Systems Methods for Environmental Managers & Introduction to Governance for Sustainability



A central aspect of the 2nd year MEM Residency is a case study that allows students to directly apply and experience the content of both courses. For the past five years we have considered and worked to address a number of on-campus sustainability issues. The case has an iterative element where students, working in small assigned teams and as a class, further the recommendations and ideas that have been identified and developed by prior classes. Each residency has explored and further developed these suggestions so that they can be implemented by RRU to improve or address campus sustainability issues.

This year we have decided to move beyond the RRU’s gates. In corporation with the City of Victoria and through their CityStudio program, we will be considering how the City and the Capital Regional District (CRD) can demonstrate regional leadership through a more effective approach to regional governance.

As in years past, at the end of Residency the class presents or pitches their findings and recommendations to City Council along with any interested CRD officials, stakeholders and staff. The ultimate goal is to make a beneficial contribution and have our ideas and insights put into practice – in this case – to ultimately improve the governance of the region.


The class project provides students with a real-life challenge to achieve transformative change for a more collaborative, effective and presumably sustainable, healthy, and better future within the City of Victoria and the Capital Region – an area with an established governance structure. Students must achieve this without causing harm – to the agencies or institutions involved, to those they interview, to their fellow classmates, the surrounding community, and their instructors.

Class Project Stages


Course participants enter the on-line course environment. They are provided with an overview of the course and the associated class project. They complete the pre-residency readings and assignments, and begin preparing for the residency experience.


This is the period when much of the work on the class project occurs – including any supporting research activities.

Week 1:

  •   Sensing – Participants begin to work together as teams on the assigned projects. Individual teams develop work plan, scope out situation, and identify interests, issues and opportunities. This week often involves data collection, surveys, interviews – in an effort to more completely understand the situation, context and point of view of their subject.

Week 2:

  • Presenting – Participants dive deeply into the project as a team and as a class. Detailed issue analysis, diagnosis of drivers and causative influences, development of draft recommendations by individual teams.

Week 3:

  • Realizing – Fine-tuning. Teams come together to collectively present their work to key City of Victoria and Capital Region administration and staff members. Provision of accompanying material necessary to ensure the successful implantation of your projects is a key element of this stage. This year, following the class presentation students will give individual presentations on their residency experience to the class.


  • Reflecting – An opportunity for the students to reflect on their experience. In previous classes, a core group uses this time to pull together a summary report along with supporting documentation that they then share with City of Victoria and Capital Regional District elected officials, staff and consultants.

Team Assignments

Working in 6 assigned teams of 5-6 members, the class will consider the possibility of amalgamation in the Capital Regional District and the potential impact and consequence to the City of Victoria.

The class will receive input and direction from the course instructors, City and Regional District officials and consultants.

Teams will select their area of focus in the first week of residency. The teams are required to work together so that they can provide a cohesive proposal and presentation to the City of Victoria at the end of the third and final week of their residency.

Assignment Details

At the end of Week 1 and Week 2 two different members from each team will give a tight, 8-minute (max!) presentation to the entire class, concerning your team’s portion of the Class Project, updating the class on what you have discovered and developed for that week.

Presentation sessions will be run as a seminar/coaching session in which all members are engaged. The goal of these sessions is to help each other hone the presentation materials and improve each other’s presentation skills. Each team’s presentation will be followed by a 2-minute Q&A session with the class. The class, instructor and guests (if present) will assess each presentation.

**Presenters will provide a reflection on their performance in their journals**

**pdf copies of each team’s presentation are to be submitted to Moodle**

On Thursday, October 20th, the day before the last day of class, we are working with City staff to have you present your brilliant findings and suggestions to the City of Victoria.

Week 1 – “SENSING” – Your Approach, The Situation, Problem/Opportunity Identification & Initial Analysis

Week 1 will be spent developing a “sense” of the project and of each other. How are you organizing as a team to undertake the assignment; what were/are the broad issues and characteristics of this specific topic area needing consideration?

Your presentation should describe the topic area, how you intend to investigate it as a team, sources of information/research, key players, potential issues and opportunities, aspects of the topic area that may require special consideration, potential linkages with other teams, etc.

Week 2 – “PRESENCING” – Detailed Issue Analysis, Diagnostic & Preliminary Recommendations

Building on work done in Week 1, Week 2 will involve diving deeper into the case study, ultimately to develop and share a more detailed understanding and analysis of your team’s project. Identify potential opportunities for governance solutions. What are the issues? What are the underlying forces that are driving them? Who could it impact? What could impact you? What are the opportunities?  What would you suggest?

Week 3 – “REALIZING” – Collective Development & Sharing of Recommendations

Teams come together to present their work to the City of Victoria. What should this presentation involve given the challenge to produce/present/host something that results in lasting/transformative change? How are you going to present each other’s work as a class? Given your understanding of the situation and what you have been tasked with what would you recommend so that these ideas are successfully implemented? What are the governance issues and how might they be addressed? What might the City, the Region and their residents resist and how will you address this? How will you share your ideas so they are received and implemented? How is your work connected to the recommendations of other consultants or stakeholders? Is this a project that requires further work by next year’s 2nd year MEM Residency?


The class project accounts for a 45% of the total course mark. 30% of the total course mark is assigned to the Teamwork aspect of the project (Assignment 4a) with remaining 15% is dependent on the individual student’s contribution (Assignment 4b).

A breakdown of the associated assessment is as follows:

  1. The weekly presentation (clarity, comprehension) & their participation in both the presentation & discussion (5% of total mark)
  2. Personal participation (10% of total mark)
  3. The quality of the teams’ work over the three weeks residency (30% of the course mark)


View the presentation webcast from Committee of the Whole: