Graduate Studies Opportunities in Sustainability Research at the University of Waterloo

We are seeking one PhD student and one Master’s student, starting in September 2024, to join the Sustainability Policy Research on Urban Transformations (SPROUT) lab in the Department of Geography and Environmental Management (GEM). While pursuing their degree at the University of Waterloo, these students will be funded through a combination of scholarships, research assistantships, and teaching assistantships, completing a thesis or dissertation under the supervision of Prof. Sarah Burch. They will be part of an international team that explores urban sustainability transitions and the transformative potential of small businesses.

Housed in the SPROUT Lab, TRANSFORM explores the role of small businesses in triggering and accelerating sustainability transitions in a range of countries, including Canada, the United States, Germany, Sweden, and Australia. We are investigating the potential for low-carbon technological and social experiments to scale up, influencing the behaviour of other businesses, sectors, and communities. There is some flexibility within this mandate. However, the new PhD and Masters students would pursue their Master’s or Doctoral degree in GEM, designing their thesis or dissertation to specifically support the objectives of TRANSFORM. Students must independently apply for, and be accepted into, the relevant degree program at the University of Waterloo.

The SPROUT Lab, led by Dr. Sarah Burch (Professor, Canada Research Chair in Sustainability Governance and Innovation and Waterloo Climate Institute Executive Director) is an energetic, interdisciplinary team with a passion for tackling complex social and environmental issues using rigorous qualitative and quantitative methods. Exciting opportunities exist within this group for peer mentoring, conference attendance, publications, and collaborative learning.

Students interested in these positions should possess experience and skills (appropriate to their level) in at least one of the following areas:

  • Environmental governance and political geography
  • Entrepreneurship and innovation
  • Sustainability science
  • Urban climate change responses
  • Sustainability transitions and experiments
  • Business strategy and organizational behaviour

For more information, please contact Dr. Sarah Burch (

Potential students are encouraged to express interest in these positions by sending the following materials to Taginder Clair ( by April 15, 2024.

  • A letter of interest outlining your research interests and experience
  • Curriculum vitae
  • Transcript or unofficial list of grades from highest degree obtained

For more information:

  • University of Waterloo:
  • UW Faculty of Environment graduate programs and application procedures:
  • Geography and Environmental Management graduate programs


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