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Sustainability Action Fund Concordia celebrates 13 new student projects

The Faculty of Fine Arts and Gina Cody School partner on the 4th edition of the awards
July 5, 2021
By Rebecca Black and Sylvie Babarik

Rolls of different coloured cloth. Vanessa Mardirossian’s winning research focuses on the use of food waste and bacteria to create textile colours.

The Sustainability Action Fund (SAF) is celebrating the work of 20 Concordia students. This year’s awards selection committee picked their 13 research projects based on innovation, feasibility and potential for advancing sustainability at the university.

Though SAF remains the driving force behind the Sustainability Research Awards, the 2021 edition was also made possible thanks to a new partnership with the Gina Cody School of Engineering and Computer Science and the continued support of the Faculty of Fine Arts.

“The Sustainability Research Awards merely show a glimpse of the incredible sustainability work students and their supervisors are doing in their respective faculties,” says Sebastián Di Poi, executive director of SAF.

“We hope that additional partnerships with Concordia faculties will allow us to recognize more deserving researchers from the growing number of annual applicants.”

This year’s call for submissions drew a record number of entries. Among the winners are six graduate and seven undergraduate research teams or students. Winning graduate projects received $1,500 each, while undergraduate ones received $800 each.

There was also an increase in the number of projects focusing on social sustainability: they made up nearly half compared to environmental sustainability projects.

Cooking colours from food waste

Vanessa Mardirossian is among the 2021 recipients. She’s pursuing a PhD in the Individualized Program focusing on the use of food waste and bacteria to create textile colours. Her work also aims to develop eco-literacy and promote knowledge-sharing about sustainable ways of producing textiles.

“I’m also planning a series of workshops and the creation of a long-term open-source archive as an educational resource about sustainable textile dyeing techniques,” Mardirossian explains.

Inclusivity toolkit

Le Lin, Brian Pham, Dominique Montesano, Mariah Andrews and Masheyla Anderson are being honoured for their project Unlearning Design: A Decolonizing and Inclusivity Toolkit. The five design and computation arts undergraduate students sought to address how university design curriculum tends to focus on Anglocentric and Eurocentric methods.

“We hope to bring out lessons of inclusivity for the greater conversation of diversity in design and to inspire a unity in our search for a more representative design field,” Lin notes.

The team documented issues through zine-style publications — available in print and online — using them to raise money for community-based organizations tied to each designer’s local context. This was a means of building both local and international connections of support and solidarity.

Although winners could not be honoured in person this year because of public health limitations on gatherings, each received a special trophy created by the Concordia University Centre for Creative Reuse. The prizes were designed from repurposed materials, flat enough to fit in an envelope to be easily assembled by each recipient.

Concordians looking for funding for a sustainability project or to learn more should visit the
Sustainability Action Fund's website.

The next call for student research funding should be announced in fall 2021.



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