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Centre for Building Sustainable Value

Catherine Cassels

I’m Catherine, and pre-Ivey, I pursued an Honours Specialization in Art History and Museum Studies in the School for the Advanced Studies in the Arts and Humanities at Western University. The community-based projects and interdisciplinary nature of this program have encouraged me to look at the world and business uniquely, specifically focusing on using my education to make my community and world a better place to live. I hope that with my education, I can use a combination of my creativity and business knowledge to help encourage equity, inclusion and sustainability in any role I take.  

What is your definition of sustainability?

Sustainability means fostering an environment, in business or otherwise, that focuses on the planet, especially ecosystems’ wellbeing and growth. Sustainability means not only maintaining our environmental standards but actively working to improve the harmful overuse and destruction of the natural environment. Additionally, it means being holistically ethical and taking measures to ensure that no resource is being exploited, including people and animals. Being sustainable is important both on a large and small scale; whether that means working for a company actively combatting climate change or purchasing ethically made clothing, we can all play our part in ensuring a sustainable future.  

What role do you see sustainability playing in your professional career? 

In my career, I would ideally like to focus on the idea of social impact, advocacy, and change. Whether this means working for a non-profit or a larger corporation to improve their sustainability measures, I would like to know that my career is not contributing to but actively combatting harmful practices to our planet and its people. Businesses and business leaders have a massive impact on the future of our planet and our society as a whole. Ensuring that all corporations, whether ethically focused or not, have ethically-minded staff is critical in guaranteeing that we are not falling behind as a society. 

Additionally, based on my previous major in Art History and Museum Studies, I would be interested in combining business, sustainability, and arts knowledge and potentially working in the arts and culture sector. Working in museums that focus on education about the natural environment, sustainability, and ethics would be a worthwhile way to help educate and spread awareness about these issues. 

What sustainability projects have you been engaged in? 

I have always been interested in sustainability and the environment since I was very young, from growing vegetables in my garden starting at age 8, frequently going on walks to clean up the forests by my house with my family, and going vegetarian at the age of 14. In high school, my friends and I decided to make sustainability a focus and worked together to create the Sustainability Club. This club raised money for local environmental organizations by selling plants to students, hosted events raising awareness and teaching sustainability skills, and creating sustainability incentives for students, like Meatless Mondays in our cafeteria.  

I have had the opportunity to be a Co-Director of ICONOCLAST Collective, an arts, culture, and politics publication in university. As Co-Director, my team and I have tried to create themes for our bi-annual issues, focusing on issues within our society, including one on sustainability and our connection with nature title UPROOTED, and another focusing on raising the voices of BIPOC students titled (UN)HEARD. These publications have allowed students’ voices to be published and for their viewpoints to be heard by the Western Community, and our associated podcast helps amplify these perspectives. Our goal is to spread awareness and focus on sociopolitical issues through creativity, which I very much resonate with within every aspect of my life. 

Catherine Cassels

Catherine Cassels