In April 2021, the University of Waterloo sustainability office started the Sustainability Book Club as part of its Green Office program.
“The overall goal of the book club is just to sit down and facilitate these discussions between staff and students and outline steps going forward because it’s always about pushing the conversation of sustainability forward, especially how we’re integrating it into our everyday life,” said Aleks Spasevski , the sustainability engagement coordinator for the sustainability office.
While initially the club was open only to staff, it has been open for students since September of this year.
Spasevski talked about how the club’s reading list for this year was created to include different experiences, ideas and thoughts on sustainability. For next year’s list, she wants to continue these goals as well as get more diverse points of view. “I’m hoping to bring more of that into it and more diverse perspectives and we have a lot of books that are talking about climate justice, and environmental racism. We especially want to highlight these voices since a lot of us are not from a diverse background,” she said
The club reads books from different time periods, analyzing their relevance to the present day and examining how the ideas and debates surrounding sustainability have changed over the years.
“A lot of the discussions that they were having at the beginning of the 2000s or in the 90s are actually quite similar to what we’re kind of discussing now. Sure, some things have changed, but overall, the arguments in the discussions that are being had are quite similar,” Spasevski said. “One of our books at the beginning of the year was Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring [published 1962], which is an environmental classic, and I think it’s interesting to see how ideas have changed over time and how you know even ideas haven’t changed over time.”
The club is having its last meeting of the year on Nov. 18, where they will explore the book Staying Alive: Women, Ecology, and Development by Vandana Shiva.