September 8, 2022: IRES Faculty Seminar with Lisa Westerhoff (First Seminar in Term 1)

IRES Seminar Series

Time: 12:30pm to 1:20pm

Location: Beaty Museum Theatre (2212 Main Mall)

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Life after academia: From research to policymaking


I used to bristle when I heard people make comparisons between academia and “the real world”; now nearly seven years into my consulting career, I understand what they meant. While the thoughtful deliberation typical of academia has little place in the world of climate policymaking, I believe that many of the skills I learned during my time in academia are what have allowed me to meaningfully contribute to solving the climate crisis. In this talk, I’ll walk through my transition from academic to consultant, and explain what research looks like in the fast-paced and outcome-driven world of climate consulting. From “best practice” reviews to technical and financial analysis, stakeholder and public engagement, and simply drawing on our own opinions, consulting is inherently multi-disciplinary. Pattern recognition, critical thinking, clear communication, and translation between “languages” are just a few of the ways research and practice come to meet.

Lisa Westerhoff

Lead of the Policy and Planning team at Integral Group


Lisa completed a PhD at IRES under John Robinson (now at the University of Toronto), and now applies her expertise in climate change, sustainability, and resilience planning as the lead of the Policy and Planning team at Integral Group. She and her team work on projects ranging from zero-emissions buildings codes and plans to energy and carbon disclosure policies, citywide climate plans, campus and portfolio decarbonization strategies, and risk and resilience assessments. She is the author of several academic publications on strategies for increasing climate change resilience and energy and emissions reductions, and was the winner of the Canada Green Building Council’s Green Building Champion Award in 2019.