University of Ottawa Faculty of Arts launches sustainable cities initiative thanks to $1 Million donation

Planet earth covered with skyscrapers and a patch of green space
Creating better cities for the future. That’s the goal of the University of Ottawa Sustainable Cities Initiative, which will bring together a critical mass of experts, researchers and graduate students to undertake interdisciplinary, collaborative, solutions-oriented research that will help cities across the country and around the world become more sustainable.

The University of Ottawa and the Faculty of Arts wish to thank the Gauthier family for their generous donation of $1 million to fund this five-year research program focused on achieving sustainable cities.   

A sustainable city, simply put, improves the quality of life for residents in the face of significant environmental changes by leveraging the power of creative thinking, citizen collaboration, new forms of data and technology. 

This initiative is being spearheaded by Faculty of Arts Dean Kevin Kee and will be managed by Vice-Dean (Research) Brian Ray from the Department of Geography, Environment and Geomatics. 

“The human sciences are an integral part of creating sustainable cities,” says Dean Kee. “How can we live well on a planet with limited resources? How do we build communities amidst diversity? How do we ensure that people who’ve had different levels of support have equal opportunity to succeed? By combining different perspectives, we will find compelling solutions to some of our biggest problems.”  

The initiative will culminate with an international conference at the University of Ottawa in 2027 to present findings and assess its global impact.  

“$200,000 per year over five years will make significant advances possible by mobilizing thought leaders whose work in urban sustainability is needed urgently,” says Jacques Frémont, president and vice-chancellor of the University of Ottawa. “We are proud that the Faculty of Arts is leading this initiative, which will shape the urban landscape of the future.”  

Frémont adds: “Thank you to the Gauthier family for seeing this project through after André’s untimely passing in 2021. His vision and his contribution to creating a more sustainable world is a legacy uOttawa will hold dear.” 

The Sustainable Cities Initiative’s success will rely on bringing together thought leaders from academia, industry, government and civil society. This collective experience will encourage interdisciplinary research that not only addresses challenges associated with a warming climate but looks toward a more environmentally and socially sustainable urban future.  

This is the third major donation announced under uOttawa’s reIMAGINE fundraising campaign, which strives to reIMAGINE the role of a university in society and enable research with the power to transform Canada and the world.  

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