A national environmental education organization honoured George Brown College faculty member Michael John Long for engaging students in sustainability efforts.
In April, the Canadian Network for Environmental Education and Communication presented its 2021 Award of Excellence for Outstanding Post-Secondary Educator to Long, a faculty member at the Centre for Preparatory and Liberal Studies and the faculty advisor to the student-led Sustainability Squad.
“The most beautiful thing about an award like this is the potential it gives to continue the work I love to do and want to do,” he said. “I’m thankful for that.”
A tireless supporter of student sustainability efforts
When Long started teaching geography and globalization courses at the School of Liberal Arts and Sciences in 2017, he was eager to connect with people who shared his passion for environmental issues. He began working with the Sustainability Squad, and as the group’s faculty advisor, he helped the members create a solid leadership structure and recruitment strategy. He also helped the club increase online engagement during the pandemic.
“Michael has shown a genuine commitment to educating and inspiring his students, encouraging environmental literacy and motivating them to take tangible action towards positive change,” Pyle said in her award recommendation.
“His compassion and hospitality are built into his style of leadership, and he continuously empowers and emboldens his students to become environmental advocates and leaders in their respective fields,” she added.
Long also facilitated George Brown College’s partnership with the WWF’s Living Planet Leader program, in which students receive certification for demonstrating sustainability practices and leadership at the college. He’s also a member of the Tommy Douglas Institute at George Brown.
And for the past 10 years, Long has been a member of the programming team at Planet in Focus, a Canadian international environmental film festival.
Engaging students in environmental issues
The threats posed by the climate crisis feel overwhelming and the news is often bleak. Long said the Sustainability Squad is an example of how people can come together along shared lines and fight for positive change.
“Join the club. We’re kind and we’re welcoming," he said. "We want to hear your thoughts on the environment and your approaches to resolving environmental issues."
For students who also want to act outside of the club, Long suggests volunteering for environmental organizations that align with your interests, like food justice, urban agriculture or recycling, among others.
“The sustainability community at large and at George Brown is full of kind, enthusiastic and dedicated people who want to connect and do good work,” he said.
Want to learn more?
Long loves podcasts and offers the following three recommendations for members of the George Brown community who want to learn more about sustainability: