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Working with Emerging Leaders at the University of Western Ontario

The Natural Step partnered with the University of Western Ontario’s Masters in Environment and Sustainability program to provide sustainability training to students in preparation for their spring 2009 consulting course. The TNS training and coaching allowed students to develop expertise on sustainability planning and the TNS Framework and gave them real-life experience in acting as a sustainability change agent within an organization.

The 26 students worked in small teams with clients that included the university itself, the city, a neighbouring First Nation community, multi-stakeholder regional watershed groups in Canada and Kenya, a local community organization, and local businesses. During the six-week project, students analyzed and documented clients’ current practices and presented recommendations for them to become more sustainable using The Natural Step Framework.

Following the consulting course, six of the UWO students started co-op placements with organizations using The Natural Step Framework in their work. The students prepared for their placements through a two-day TNS training course and received ongoing coaching calls and feedback on their work from TNS advisors. Students conducted preliminary assessments of their organizations, gauging client readiness for change toward sustainability through surveys, interviews and background research.  This analysis informed the scope of their work and the development of project plans. Students then conducted briefings to build greater internal awareness and understanding for sustainability, developed a high-level strategy for their organizations’ sustainability journeys, and identified early wins to build momentum and buy-in for the process.

Jennifer Reid applied The Natural Step Framework to her summer placement at a local hot tub and spa company. She said the mentorship provided by TNS staff helped give her the support she needed to be confident in her work.

"I have found the university's partnership with The Natural Step to be deeply rewarding,” she said. “The TNS Framework helped with the transition from the classroom to the workplace by acting as a practical tool for knowledge application.”

To learn more about The Natural Step partnership with UWO’s Masters in Environment and Sustainability class, read Sustainability Advisor Chad Park’s blog about the students’ projects.

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