McGill hosted a series of Sustainable Futures Career Days from Nov. 2 to Nov. 3 as part of its Bicentennial programming. The events aimed to equip McGill students with the skills to integrate sustainability into their studies and career goals. The series opened with a keynote delivered by Chantal Line Carpentier, a McGill alumna, and included a workshop on the United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Goals, a panel discussing the steps toward a career in sustainable development, and one-on-one student sessions with speakers from previous events.
Carpentier graduated from McGill with a bachelor of agricultural and environmental sciences in 1990 and a master’s degree in science in 1992. Gérald Cadet introduced her at the Career Days opening, noting that her work at the UN as chief of the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) at the New York office.
“Previously, she was the major groups’ coordinator for the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs, where she led a consultation with the non-state actors in the negotiations on the Sustainable Development Goals,” Cadet said. “And prior to that, she was a focal point for food security, sustainable agriculture, and sustainable consumption as a sustainable development officer at DESA, the Department of Economic and Social Affairs of the UN.”
Carpentier began her address by describing her experience at McGill. Carpentier also emphasized how different aspects of her education helped her in her professional life. In particular, she mentioned the importance of interdisciplinary learning and collaboration with people from different fields.
“We’re very confident in our field […], but we’re not very confident working with the others,” Carpentier said. “And so, [working with people in different fields] is something that I found was very useful later in my career [….] This is something that is primordial if you want to solve the sustainable development problem that we have.”
Some students, like Clare Scott, U0 Science, believe the Bicentennial Career Days’ theme of sustainability comes off as superficial with McGill as its host.
“I think any events that do promote a culture that supports sustainability and wanting to integrate that into other areas of student life like networking and career planning [are] inherently good,” Scott said. “But I think there are other things that McGill could be doing that could convince us a little more that they care about this topic.”
Offering up a call to action outside of the Bicentennial Sustainable Future Career Days’ messages, Scott pointed to the potential that divestment from fossil fuels has to make a concrete impact in countering environmental problems and promoting sustainability.
“Divesting from their fossil fuel investment is probably one of the more tangible things that I’ve seen promoted around campus throughout student groups,” Scott added. “I think that that would be one of the more impactful things that McGill could do to support sustainability.”
A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that the Paul Olioff was Carpentier’s mentor. In fact, he was not. The Tribune regrets this error.