SFU’s largest student society — formerly Sustainable SFU — has recently rebranded, changing its name to “Embark.”
All undergraduate and graduate students are members of the student-led, not-for-profit society as a result of the sustainability levy that is included in the semesterly student fees. The levy is $2 for full time students and $1 for part time students.
After undergoing a rebranding process over the summer, the Embark website and brand was launched to the public on September 1.
Embark’s Executive Director Joshua Cairns explained that over the past few years the rebranding of Sustainable SFU was being considered in order to “adopt a really unique identity and help distinguish ourselves on campus, as far as what we do, and how we are different from the SFU Sustainability office.
“‘Embark’ really spoke to what it is we do, which is we want to empower students to create sustainable change on campus, and to carry that wave of momentum into the world [. . .] beyond SFU,” said Cairns.
“Essentially, what we do is empower students to become sustainability leaders, and we do that through grants, training, and engagement.”
The society worked with Dossier Creative, a local organization that specializes in branding and innovation.
Two SFU student interns at Dossier Creative helped create the entire brand, including everything from the name and the logo, to the feel of the new look.
According to Cairns, the rebranding process involved asking the questions, “Who are we?” and “Where are we headed?”
Aside from changing the name and appearance of the brand, the rebranding process allowed the society’s staff and board of directors to reevaluate their key values.
Those values identified as most important included empowerig, disrupting, collaborating, and changing the world, said Cairns.
He noted, “Once we got those values down [. . .] we were really able to figure out what the name should be, what the logo should be, but also how we should change the organization to reflect those values.
And that’s why now we’re increasing the amount of grants that we have available, because that’s a key way that we can help empower them to make sustainable change.”
Embark will also provide professional development opportunities for students, as well and working on engaging them by offering training workshops — something Sustainable SFU did not facilitate.
Workshops will be held throughout the year on topics including “Outreach 101,” op-ed writing, public protesting, and more.
Cairns mentioned that old initiatives such as the harvest boxes, teaching gardens, and bike-to-work week events will still be a big part of what they do.
He identified pushing the university to divest from fossil fuel companies as their primary goal within the value of “disrupt” this year.
“It’s becoming a more urgent issue,” said Cairns. “We’ve had great interest from the student body to get involved with us to help make that happen, because I think they’re also identifying with this brand […] very well.”
The key theme of “collaboration” will be enacted through outreach and dialogues in order to gauge the specific interests for SFU students and to build partnerships with other groups on campus in effort to engage as many students as possible.
Cairns explained, “Any priority or initiative that we identify, we need to appreciate that there’s probably a whole other group of students, or a whole other group of faculty or staff on campus that are also working towards the exact same end goal.”
For Embark, changing the world is more of an overall guiding value that will point them in the direction they want to go, and allow them to keep their vision in mind. “It speaks to the fact that we won’t just accept the status quo and business as usual,” said Cairns.
“Our ultimate end goal is that we want to change the world. Every decision we make, every initiative we take on, should contribute to a positive change in the world.”