British Columbia Library Association

Supporting sustainability through liaison

By Emily Nickerson

This article was originally submitted to BCLA Perspectives in February 2020.

Supporting sustainability through liaison

I recently began a new gig as an academic librarian, moving from a corporate law organization. Over the past year I’ve been adjusting to working at an academic institution and focusing on getting to know my subject liaison areas and familiarizing myself with their research, programs, and values.

One of my subject liaison areas at the University of Victoria is the Gustavson School of Business. Coming in, I knew that one of Gustavson’s four pillars is to be socially responsible and sustainable (Gustavson School of Business, 2019a), but I didn’t truly grasp how integrated that pillar was in every aspect of the school’s operations until I arrived. Joining the Gustavson community has inspired me to explore what I can do differently in my practice as a subject librarian.


Since 2018 the Gustavson School of Business has been a champion of the United Nation’s Principles for Responsible Management Education (PRME) which seek to realize the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) through responsible management education. PRME champions include a select number of institutions who have radically changed curriculum and research in this area, and serve as examples and guides to PRME signatories (PRME Secretariat, 2020). In addition to faculty research, Gustavson introduces students to social and sustainability topics into all the core courses and specialization programs. Furthermore, the existing MBA program was redesigned and relaunched September 2020 as the new MBA in Sustainable Innovation.

Gustavson has been measuring its carbon footprint for the last decade and in 2017 started offsetting greenhouse gas emissions for travel and commuting. In 2018 came the launch of the Carbon Offset Pitch Competition, in which teams of students from across the business school are given the opportunity to submit carbon offset portfolios. That year the school became one of the first carbon neutral business schools in the world (Gustavson School of Business, 2018). Other initiatives include hosting events, challenges and competitions such as the MIIISsion Impossible challenge which has third-year students competing to create a viable business solution to a sustainability issue in an international student’s country of origin (Gustavson School of Business, 2019b). To support all of these initiatives Gustavson relies on their Centre for Social and Sustainable Innovation (CSSI).

Liaison support for sustainability

Many of the ways academic librarians can support sustainability initiatives like the ones at Gustavson are already part of a subject librarian’s job:

This list represents just a few ways librarians can support sustainability in their liaison portfolios. To move beyond this, explore resources from the IFLA and ALA groups on ideas for bigger picture changes for greening libraries, advocacy, and how libraries already are, and can continue to help meet the Sustainable Development Goals.


Emily Nickerson is the Law & Business Librarian at the University of Victoria.



Gustavson School of Business. (2018). Gustavson achieves carbon neutrality for frequent air travel. UVic News.

Gustavson School of Business. (2019a). Strategic Plan 2019-2023. Gustavson School of Business.

Gustavson School of Business. (2019b). Sustainable business challenge taps into student knowledge. UVic News.

PRME Secretariat. (2020). PRME Champions. Principles for Responsible Management Education.


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