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Seven Teaching, Learning and Research Environments Stream Projects led by faculty and staff at UBC Vancouver and Okanagan have received grant funding through the 2023/24 UBC Wellbeing Strategic Initiative Fund: Teaching, Learning and Research Environments Stream. A further 26 projects are being supported by the UBC Wellbeing Strategic Initiative Fund for the 2023/24 fiscal year.

From working with Syilx Elders and Knowledge Keepers on Okanagan campus to explore Indigenous assessment and possibilities in education to improving mental health and social connection through dog therapy on Vancouver campus, this year's projects showcase the diverse ways in which faculty and staff are embedding sustainable health and wellbeing strategic initiatives within teaching, learning, and research environments.

Learn more about this year's inspiring projects below. Congratulations to all staff and faculty recipients!

2023/24 Funded Teaching, Learning and Research Environments Stream Projects

Exploring Indigenous Assessment and Possibilities in a Bachelor of Education Program

Faculty Lead: Desiree Marshall-Peer, School of Education, UBC Okanagan 

Historically, First Peoples have been erased from K-12 classrooms. Recognition is integral to the wellness of First Peoples. Alongside Syilx Elders and Knowledge Keepers, this project will explore definitions of assessment, current views, and what possibilities can exist through Indigenous Assessment. In a voluntary 4 x 2hr seminar with Elders teaching in circle to inform Teacher Candidates of Indigenous views about learning, this project aims to co-create assessments that move beyond colonial structures/paradigms supported by the First Peoples Principles of Learning (2006). The faculty lead seeks to support teacher praxis in unlearning colonized ways, embodying Indigenous knowledge systems, and honouring Indigenous ways of being. 

PAWS your Stress: The Experiences of Dog Therapy Programming in the Faculty of Dentistry 

Faculty Lead: Zul Kanji, Faculty of Dentistry, UBC Vancouver 

​​​​​​Dog therapy programs have been shown to reduce stress, homesickness, and anxiety. This pilot will introduce dog therapy programming within the Faculty, aiming to improve mental health and enhance social connections for students, faculty, and staff. The team will invite dogs from the Pacific Assistance Dogs Society (PADS) and plan an educational session exploring how animals can support wellbeing. Focus groups will be arranged for team members to discuss their experience and impact on wellness. This project aligns with the Wellbeing Strategic Framework and Okanagan Charter by promoting mental health and resilience, social connection, and inclusion by embedding wellbeing practices in academic lives and campus culture across all settings. 

Development of Guides to Grief and Compassion for UBCO Students & Faculty 

Staff Lead: Helen Sharp, School of Nursing, UBC Okanagan 

Members of the campus community experience loss, suffering, and grief from a variety of sources. Examples can include the death of a family member or someone in the campus community, natural disasters, or socio-political turmoil. Grief can be uncomfortable to navigate and too often, people withdraw for fear of saying something upsetting when compassion and social connection are most needed to support wellbeing, resilience, and mental health. Consistent with the Wellbeing Strategic Framework, compassionate responses can be learned and supported. The team will help facilitate access to these skills by developing Brief Guides to Grief to support students and faculty. 

Light Up: Igniting Postdoctoral Resilience at UBC 

Staff Lead: Walter Sena, UBC Postdoctoral Association, UBC Vancouver 

Wellbeing remains a significant challenge for postdoctoral researchers, with 79% of Canadian postdocs reporting mental health issues (2020 Canadian National Postdoctoral Survey). Despite the available statistics, there is a growing need to capture comprehensive data relating to UBC's postdocs' wellbeing. This project aims to address this need by conducting a biennial survey to evaluate and track the mental wellbeing of postdocs to inform actionable strategies for improvement. This initiative aligns with the UBC Wellbeing Framework, aiming to integrate mental health resilience into the campus culture, and supports the Okanagan Charter's vision for health-promoting educational institutions. 

EMPHASize: Creating Body Size Inclusivity & Preventing Eating Disorders on Campus through Education

Faculty Lead: Sally Stewart, School of Health and Exercise Sciences, UBC Okanagan 

The Okanagan Charter's first call to action, embed wellbeing into all aspects of campus culture, is what this project aims to do. This team will further develop innovative, engaging learning modules to disseminate broadly to faculty (health-related teaching disciplines & others through CTL/CTLT workshops), students (health-related discipline courses; online student wellbeing canvas shell) and institutional units impacting student wellbeing and campus/learning experiences (Health & Wellness clinicians, rec. staff, varsity coaches etc.). Knowledge of weight stigma/bias and EDs is critical for an inclusive institution and in preventing EDs, a most common, deadly mental health issue in students. 

Self & Collective Care Series: Adapted for Faculty & Staff

Faculty Lead: Elisabeth Bailey, School of Nursing, UBC Vancouver 

Led by Dr. Elisabeth Bailey, the UBC-V BSN program developed the Self & Collective Care Series, a set of 4 modules designed to support nursing students to gain skills related to self & collective care, reflective practice, & social belonging. Each module consists of asynchronous pre-work and a facilitated debrief session. The pilot offering of this series started in September 2022 and is currently being evaluated. For this project, the team would like to adapt these modules into a self-paced resource available to all faculty, staff, and clinical instructors in nursing so that all members of our community have access to these resources for their learning & to build capacity for collective care. 

Changing The World From Here: Campus Grassland Restoration Course Impacts Wellbeing

Faculty Lead: Sumer Seiki, School of Education, UBC Okanagan 

Climate change is a critical issue of our time. In response, the faculty lead created a new course, EDST 498: Climate Justice in Action, that will physically bring truth, reconciliation, and healing to our campus. This course is open to students from across campus. This integrative and problem-focused climate justice-in-action course will help learners transform an acre of campus invasive weeds into a rich, biodiverse space filled with native plants. Students will be leaders learning skills to begin climate action. In taking up this work, the project aims to counter some devastating impacts of climate change and invest in campus sustainability. 


The Office of Wellbeing Strategy welcomes inquiries from staff and faculty to explore future UBC Wellbeing Strategic Initiative Fund (SIF) projects and opportunities, within and beyond the scope of the fund. The annual UBC Wellbeing SIF will open again for project proposals in spring/summer 2024. For more information, please contact


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We all have a hand in shaping campus environments that support health, wellbeing, and sustainability. By championing wellbeing, we can build stronger and more inclusive communities at UBC and beyond.