Photo Credit: The University of St. Micheal’s College logo
Alexandra Biron announced as inaugural winner
Lorenzo Canneri, The Mike Contributor
On October 23, The University of St. Michael’s College (USMC) announced a new award for the Corporate Social Responsibility and Sustainability (CSRS) program. The CSRS program is a learning program created to allow its participants to earn their graduate degree in sustainability and corporate social responsibility while also being able to work full-time.
Only 30 applicants are accepted into the CSRS program every year and they come from across the world. The program lasts a year and is comprised of only 11 day and evening sessions. The sessions include a learning management system, meetings with mentor groups, and monthly practice webinars. One of the final assignments in this program is to work, under the mentorship of CSRS faculty, on a Capstone Project focused on the participant’s own company.
The CSRS program is designed for a variety of applicants ranging from the business sector, government, and not-for-profit organizations. Organizations such as the Bank of Montreal, the United Nations, and the City of Toronto have participated.
The typical student in this program usually has at least one post-secondary degree and some experience in their respective field. The goal of CSRS is to give its students the tools to apply CSRS to their work through the Capstone Project. The main goal of the award and program is to lead organizational change by becoming a CSRS change agent, and to gain a global perspective by starting to examine corporate social responsibility and sustainability.
“The Corporate Social Responsibility [and Sustainability] program is a vital offering at the University of St. Michael’s College [USMC], helping businesses and institutions focus on ways to become better — and more effective global citizens, whether environmentally, socially, or economically,” said USMC President David Sylvester. Sylvester has also stated that, “program participants return to their workplaces as leaders engaged in social impact that benefits their employers and society.”
In response to launching the CSRS’s new award Sylvester stated, “We want to celebrate these extraordinary changemakers with this new award.” The four projects nominated for the award for the 2018–19 graduating class were the following: Stand up! For Youth Mental Health: Will Community Investment PayOff for Family Channel? by Nikki Bryan, Indigenous Impact Report by Alexandra Biron, Bringing to Life a CSR/Sustainability Conversation for the City of Mississauga by Andrea McLeod, and a CSR Strategy for Canadian Real Estate Association by Sarah Thirnbeck.
These projects were chosen because they have shown distinguishing characteristics in one or more of the following criteria; advancing social and/or environmental impact, introducing innovative practices in social and environmental responsibility, sustainability, environmental, social, and operate governance (ESG) and/or significantly advancing social and environmental responsibility, sustainability, and/or ESG of the creator’s organization.
The winner of the award was Alexandra Biron, whose project was inspired by a report from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and focused on outlining commitments that have made to Indigenous communities across the country. The nominated projects were judged by a panel comprised of Kaz Flinn, the USMC advisory committee for the CSRS program, Stephen Scharper, Associate Professor at the School of Environment and the Department for The Study of Religion at U of T, and Mary Ann Sayers, graduate of CSR program and Senior Business Consultant at West Pine Consultants Inc.
The final reports for the Capstone Projects for the 2019–20 academic year will be completed by September 15, 2020.