Thinking Globally Acting Locally


The Thinking Globally, Acting Locally (TGAL) Research Forum took place on June 6, 2023, and featured a keynote address by award-winning broadcaster, Ziya Tong, author of The Reality Bubble.

Read the Western News story HERE.

Community Presentations

Western University, in partnership with the City of London and London Public Library, held three TGAL community presentations at the Masonville and Central library branches during November 2023.

An Initiative with Impact

Are you passionate about sustainability? Do you want to make a difference in your community by developing innovative solutions to local sustainability challenges?

September 30, 2022 
Submission deadline

November 2022
Announcement of the selected teams

May 2023
Teams submit their reports

June 6, 2023 
Western hosts Research Forum

Thinking Globally, Acting Locally is an innovative new pilot program aimed at supporting student-led initiatives that engage with our local communities to collaboratively advance sustainability.

This new initiative will engage teams of undergraduate and graduate students, supported by a faculty mentor, to conduct research projects focusing on at least one of the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. As part of the research proposal, each team will identify an external advisor from a community organization who will collaborate on the project and leverage the research for real-world impact.  

In addition to the above criteria, each team will:

  • include at least two undergraduate students.
  • include at least one graduate student as a “senior researcher”, “project manager”, and “peer mentor”.
  • include one Western faculty mentor.
  • have an opportunity to set goals, reflect on learning, and identify transferable skills, all hallmarks of the experiential learning process.

The main outcomes of this initiative are to:

  • develop viable solutions to local sustainability challenges.
  • increase the visibility of Western's contributions to community sustainability challenges.
  • support and promote high-impact research and experiential learning for students.

This initiative will enhance research and experiential learning opportunities for both undergraduate and graduate students. It will also provide graduate students with professional skill-development opportunities in mentoring and managing projects.

This initiative will focus attention on local sustainability challenges and will foster the development of innovative solutions with the potential to benefit our local communities. It will also highlight Western’s commitment to sustainability and to engaging with and supporting our local communities.

Announcing the Selected Teams!

We are pleased to announce that four student-led research teams have been selected to advance the UN Sustainable Development Goals in the London community. The teams will be taking on sustainability issues ranging from Good Health and Well-being, Reduced Inequality, and Climate Action, to Sustainable Cities and Communities.

We invite you to read a short synopsis of each team's research below:

Indigenous voices - Integrating unique ways of knowing into modern health care systems

Indigenous peoples belong to distinct social and cultural groups that share collective ancestral ties to the lands and natural resources where they live, occupy, or from which they have been displaced. Notably, Indigenous Peoples suffer disproportionately from the burden of mental and physical illness, despite representing only 6.2% of the global population. This inordinate representation of health issues among Indigenous populations is unequivocally linked to their shared experience of continuing injustice. Overcoming the lack of participation and consultation is a fundamental facet of exclusion faced by Indigenous Peoples, and it becomes a critical point of departure for building responsive and coherent health policies. To address the root causes of Indigenous Peoples’ health problems, there must be full recognition and exercise of Indigenous Peoples’ collective voice, unique ways of knowing, and right to self-determination in our modern-day health care systems. In collaboration with staff at London Health Science’s Indigenous Health and Wellness program, and members of the local Indigenous community, the current project aims to reduce health care inequalities between Indigenous and non-Indigenous populations.

Riverside tree planting for climate change resiliency

In the coming years, as the effects of climate change continue to manifest in our region, we can expect a dramatic increase in the severity and frequency of extreme weather events, including intense storms and prolonged droughts. Unprecedented, rapid changes in environmental conditions are already having catastrophic effects on the hydrology of rivers and bodies of water all over the world. The Thames River (Deshkan Ziibi) connects the City of London and Western University to nearby First Nations Chippewas of the Thames First Nation, Munsee-Delaware Nation and Oneida Nation of the Thames. The resilience of this river under climate change affects all of us. This project aims to improve the ecological health of the river, mitigate increased flooding risk, and build better upstream relationships with Nations and communities within our river watershed.

Playing for Keeps: Sustainability Potential of Playgrounds

Playing for Keeps is a multidisciplinary project that investigates the sustainability potential of playgrounds. While existing research has clearly established the critical role that playgrounds have in the development of healthy futures for children, little has been written about playgrounds’ broader effects for sustainability. Thus, our project asks: How can playgrounds contribute to the well-being of people, function as a sustainable, resilient, safe and inclusive environments, and contribute to local-level climate solutions?

The Effect of Environmental Regulations on the productivity of Canadian manufacturers

Pollution emissions of Canadian manufacturers reduced by 80 percent on average during the last three decades, while their output increased by 40 percent. This phenomenon is known as manufacturing clean-up. While the conventional wisdom is that more output production should generate more pollution, data shows the opposite. Studies show that firms managed to reduce their pollution per unit of output. This reduction, called the technique effect, is responsible for most manufacturing clean-up. Did firms change their processes, adopt cleaner technologies, or shift from producing dirty products to cleaner ones? Did some firms shut down and exit the manufacturing sector? Why and how did they decide to do so? Understanding the underlying mechanisms that led to this global phenomenon will help us design better policies; policies that boost economic output while reducing pollution and Greenhouse gas (GHGs) emission levels of manufacturers. In this study, we will analyze the mechanisms behind the decisions made by manufacturers in London that led to the reduction in pollution per unit of output. Specifically, our study will focus on changes in air-pollutant and GHG emissions of manufacturers in London.

$20,000 for Research Support

Up to five research teams will be selected from the submitted proposals to pursue their research projects.  Research projects will be evaluated based on the following criteria:

Development Goals

  • The team clearly identifies how their idea supports at least one of the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals.


  • The sustainability issue is clearly identified and supported with facts and statistics.
  • The proposed solution addresses the problem in an interesting and/or original manner.

Project Plan

  • The project’s objectives are focused and clearly specified.
  • The project’s indicated approach clearly addresses the stated objectives.
  • The project clearly outlines a timeline for implementing its plan.
  • The project clearly specifies its anticipated impact for the local community.
  • The project clearly indicates the relevance of its local solution(s) at the global scale.


  • The project plan is practically feasible within the specified timeline.
  • The project plan clearly outlines and justifies the budget (finances, resources, etc.) required to implement its proposed solution.

Critical Local Engagement

  • The team clearly demonstrates engagement with local community partners and/or stakeholders in the development and planning of their idea.
  • The team demonstrates they would work with local leadership in implementing their proposed project plan.

The selected teams will each receive a budget of up to $20,000 to support the achievement of their project goals. Each team will be expected to complete their research with targeted outcomes that are achievable within a seven-month time frame (November – May).

Celebrating Achievement

The teams will be required to present their achievements at a Thinking Globally, Acting Locally Research Forum hosted by Western. The forum will celebrate the teams’ achievements and promote the implementation and advancement of their work.

In addition to presenting at the forum, teams are encouraged to work with their external advisor to create a knowledge mobilization plan to share their project with the broader community and to foster ongoing efforts related to the work.

All undergraduate and graduate students in all Western degree programs are eligible and encouraged to participate.


Varun Ravikumar (he/him/his)
Coordinator, Thinking Globally Acting Locally (TGAL)
Western University
School of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies
International and Graduate Affairs Building, Room 1N07
London, ON, Canada N6A 3K7 |