Building a better world

“Canada and the world face many problems” claims the University of Guelph’s (U of G) website, but don’t worry, they’re working on it.

The Better Planet Project was formally launched last month as part of the celebrations surrounding the university’s upcoming 50th anniversary.
With a fundraising target of $200 million, $88 million dollars has already been raised to help reach the Project’s stated goal of “[accelerating] research that will help to make real, sustainable changes, ensuring the current and future welfare of [their] local and global communities.”

Leading the campaign is Tye Burt, a U of G alumnus and a member of the university’s board of directors. He sees the Better Planet Project as an opportunity for the university to continue its tradition of community involvement, and perhaps make even greater strides. 

“It’s a strategy that individuals, organizations and business can all support; it will empower people by showing them they can help bring about change.”   
 The Project is divided into four main categories in its efforts to improve the lives of people worldwide: food, environment, health and communities. Money raised will go to build infrastructure, fund student programs, scholarships, bursaries, travel grants and learning initiatives and create faculty positions.

Joanne Shoveller, vice-president of alumni affairs and development explained, “These dedicated positions will help to accelerate the pace of Guelph innovation and the transfer of knowledge into practical applications.”

The school of engineering, the college of management and economics and the Ontario veterinary college health sciences centre at Guelph will be among the first to receive renovations and new infrastructure. By 2014, Shoveller expressed the hope that the Better Planet Project will have helped the university to appoint 50 research chairs dedicated to making the world a better place in their own unique and innovative way.

The Project’s goals are set high in each area of focus. The Project’s leaders see U of G as a place to make a difference in the world because it provides the potential to allow their researchers to “find better ways to maintain good health, prevent disease and treat illness — not just for Canadians but also for our neighbours around the world.”

Organizers also note on the Project’s website that the university’s “expertise adds value to the Canadian food industry and benefits farmers worldwide so we can all produce more, safer food using fewer resources.”

In a YouTube video that is a part of the fundraising effort, Alastair Summerlee, president of U of G since 2003, explained, “We know that we can make a significant contribution to this planet.”

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