Engaging the Community: Canada’s work world and the challenge of climate change

A SSHRC Public Outreach Grant 2011-2012

Although the topic of climate warming is of growing concern to Canadians, research about  its impact on  work and  employment, and the implications of that impact for communities, future employment, education and  training, has been neglected until relatively recently.

Canada also lags behind other OECD countries in developing research-based policies and active strategies to adapt work, education and skills training for transitioning Canada to a lower-carbon economy. Adapting work organisation and employment patterns can contribute powerfully to Canada’s efforts to slow global warming. But greening the work world requires public policy that is not employment-blind, and adaptive training to green continuing jobs as well as training for new jobs. Above all, it requires that environmental literacy spread beyond experts to the many communities—of interest, occupation, age and region—that compose Canadian society.

It is of great importance for Canada’s future that the translation of research into policy and publicly accessible knowledge take place widely and quickly.

Engaging the Community’  focuses on five publics (non-academic communities) whose engagement with shifting the relationship between climate change and work is essential:

  1. Practitioner groups in the work world
  2. Teachers and students¹
  3. Canadian climate scientists and environmentalists
  4. Policy makers both Canadian and cross-border²
  5. The wider public.

The project’s goals are these:

  1. Translate research into accessible information and educational material about the complex interdependence between climate change, work and education/training³.
  2. Engage community partners, practitioners and educators with the questions, integrating their hands-on experience.
  3. Engage the five non-academic publics both with the research and with each other, in order to broaden the use of the research, stimulate cross-pollination, catalyse ongoing collaboration among the groups, and enhance their capacity to educate and act.
  4. Increase the number of highly qualified practitioners and students capable of fostering Knowledge Translation in social climate science research and shepherding a ‘green turn’ in their organisations.
  5. Turn accessible research into solutions to practical problems.

Lead Researcher
Dr. Carla Lipsig-Mummé, Social Science, York University, Canada

Dr. Dawn Bazely, Biology, York University, Canada
Dr. Steven Tufts, Geography, York University, Canada

Partner Organisations
Canadian Union of Postal Workers
Fondation Monique-Fitzback
IRIS: York Institute for Research and Innovation on Sustainability
Learning for a Sustainable Future
United Steelworkers-Canada


¹ Secondary school teachers, secondary and post-secondary students. The Youth, Climate, Jobs Institute takes place between October 22 and November 10, 2011

² The Atlantic Forum on Work in a Warming World,  linking Atlantic provinces and New England policy makers & labour market actors, takes place on September 28 and 29, 2011.

³ The Work and Climate Change Report, a monthly publication, published its first issue on September 6, 2011.