Microlecture Series in Sustainable Living: Building a better future with Yvonne Su

Globe and York branded box for the Microlecture Series launch

York University’s free Microlecture Series in Sustainable Living is an innovative, interdisciplinary and open access program that gives participants the opportunity to earn a first-of-its-kind digital badge in sustainable living.

Throughout the Microlecture Series in Sustainable Living, six of York University’s world-renowned experts share research, thoughts and advice on a range of critical topics related to sustainability. Their leadership and expertise, however, extends beyond the six-minute presentations.

Over the next several weeks, YFile will present a six-part series featuring the professors’ work, their expert insights into York’s contributions to sustainability, and how accepting the responsibility of being a sustainable living ambassador can help right the future.

Part four features Assistant Professor Yvonne Su.

Yvonne Su
Yvonne Su

Yvonne Su is an assistant professor in the Department of Equity Studies, Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies, at York University. Su is an interdisciplinary migration and international development scholar with research expertise on forced migration, queer migration, post-disaster recovery, climate change adaptation, climate change-induced mobility, migrant remittances and social capital. She holds a PhD in political science and international development from the University of Guelph and a master’s in refugee and forced migration studies from the University of Oxford.

Q: What does it mean to be a “sustainable living ambassador” and how does it foster positive change?
A: Being a sustainable living ambassador is really important especially as we deal with the pressing concerns of the climate crisis. The issues we are dealing with as a society are so complex and we’ve come to a point where we know the answers do not simply lie in changing lightbulbs and not using plastic bags. But the solutions are also very complicated and as sustainable living ambassadors, myself and other professors at York can help unpack these complicated issues and offer multi-faceted solutions that foster positive change.

Q: What would make you most proud for viewers to take away from your lecture, and the series as a whole?
A: I think what would make me the most proud for viewers to take away from my lecture on the unequal consequences of climate change is that we need to have a deeper understanding of climate justice, especially when it comes to the injustice done to our indigenous communities.

For the series as a whole, it would be great if the audience can walk away feeling empowered to make a positive difference.

Q: Equity and equality are a common theme throughout these sustainability lectures. Why is that such a critical component of sustainability?
A: We can’t have climate justice without equity and equality. We live in a highly unequal world and those on the frontlines of climate change are often the ones that have contributed the least to climate change.

Q: Are there changes you’ve made in your work at York that other York community members can learn from?
A: Some changes that I have made to make my teaching and learning more sustainable is to have more Zoom lectures and office hours, paperless assignments and buying an e-reader so I don’t need to print out readings.

Q: How do you view collective responsibility vs. personal responsibility in creating a more sustainable future?
A: I think personal responsibility is important in creating a more sustainable future but the real power lies in collective responsibility, especially at the corporate and government level. We need citizens to hold corporations and governments responsible for their actions and inactions when it comes to climate change and sustainability.

Q: How is York leading the way towards a more sustainable future?
A: York is one of the biggest universities in Canada that is leading the way on research in sustainability and climate change. Our research often has a focus on equity and equality which is fundamental to any solutions that will contribute to a more sustainable future.

Visit the Microlecture Series in Sustainable Living to see Yvonne Su’s full lecture, as well as those by the other five experts, and earn your Sustainable Living Ambassador badge. Watch for part five of this series in an upcoming issue of YFile. Read more in parts one, two and three.