On October 9, 2020, the Leadership in Environmental and Digital innovation for Sustainability (LEADS) program held its first virtual mini-symposium to welcome 23 students and 11 professors and expand on the vision for the program. 

The event featured opening remarks and an introduction to the program by co-founders Damon Matthews, Professor and Research Chair in Climate Science and Sustainability, Geography, Planning and Environment at Concordia University, and Amy Luers, Senior Advisor of the Sustainability in the Digital Age initiative. This was followed by a ‘lightning round’ of presentations on their research by professors involved in the program.

Students introduced themselves in a roundtable, and then participants formed three breakout groups to discuss their visions and/or hopes for the program, as well as what it means to be a leader in today’s context. A new definition of collective leadership might be developed as the program evolves.

LEADS is a collaboration between Concordia University, McGill University, Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM), Université de Montréal, and Future Earth’s Sustainability in the Digital Age (SDA) initiative. Funding is provided by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC).

Students were particularly excited about applying scientific knowledge for good and developing the skills to carry out impactful work that leads to real change. They seek to apply in practice the knowledge they acquire from the program and see that their work makes a difference “on the ground” at the sustainability-digital intersection.