Practitioner and Elder-in-Residence

John Patterson


In September 2012, SENS was pleased to welcome John Patterson as our practitioner-in-residence. Patterson has extensive experience managing environmental projects in the private sector, and with organizations such as the Canadian International Development Association and the World Bank in Vietnam, Indonesia and other countries. He is available as a resource for students to discuss project management, career planning and any other questions they may have or advice they may seek regarding the environmental profession. In addition, he also gave a two-day project management workshop in October 2012 as part of the SENS Professional Skills Certificate.

 News Spotlight: SENS welcomes John Patterson

His career has taken him around the world, and now U of S alumnus John Patterson has found his way back to the University of Saskatchewan as the school’s practitioner-in-residence for the 2012/13 academic year.

With a BA from the U of S and a Master of Environmental Design from the University of Calgary, Patterson has worked for the World Bank, the Asian Development Bank and SNC Lavalin in environmental advisory and environmental project management roles. His résumé reads like the passport of a seasoned world traveler: Vietnam, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Indonesia, Bhutan and Malaysia.

SENS had been considering hosting a practitioner-in-residence for some time, and when John contacted then Acting Executive Director Maureen Reed, the match seemed perfect. Given his extensive background as a project manager and as an environmental advisor, his credentials were ideal. “When I first met with John, he spoke about what he could offer to our students—such as a project management workshop and ideas about professional practice,” Dr. Reed says. “He is genuinely interested in working with young people. He fits with SENS professionally and philosophically.”

Patterson has facilitated a project management workshop for students from SENS, Geography and Planning, and Toxicology, and will assist in advising students in the Master of Sustainable Environmental Management program about professional practice as they embark on their ENVS 992 research projects.

“I enjoy the enthusiasm of ‘younger environmentalists,’” Patterson says, when asked why he has chosen to become part of the SENS community. "Through SENS, I have exposure to people who are defining and addressing environment and sustainability issues, locally and abroad.”

Perhaps Patterson’s most important role at the school will be to provide encouragement to students as they look toward their careers in the environment and sustainability sector.

“Starting your career may be frustrating as you believe you have much to offer. You do! Graduates of SENS will have communications skills and will have demonstrated they can work unsupervised and complete high-quality projects on-time. SENS also offers a highly useful experience working with others through the ENVS 992 Research Project. My suggestion is for SENS students to gain the maximum knowledge and experience available, set high standards for themselves and persevere, persevere!”

As many SENS alumni have gone onto successful careers in provincial government, with consulting firms or with NGOs, Patterson’s words of advice seem to have already been proven true.


From October 21 to November 12, 2011, we were pleased to host Randall Tetlichi, First Nations Elder, traditional healer and teacher from Yukon College in Whitehorse. He is a highly respected Vuntut Gwitch’in elder who works with youth and facilitates workshops and courses on traditional healing and sharing of indigenous knowledges at the college. 

Tetlichi stayed at the U of S for three weeks and held public presentations, taught classes, met with faculty, staff and administrators, collaborated on research projects and immersed himself in the U of S community. Cultural perspectives were broadened, new friendships made and much was learned during his visit. The visit was organized by SENS assistant professor MJ Barrett, whose own research includes a focus on Aboriginal perspectives and inclusion of indigenous knowledges in environmental decision‐making.

Randall Tetlichi

The Elder-in-Residence program serves to broaden the student experience beyond traditional academic lessons and expose them to cross-cultural knowledge and the different ways communities and people value and interpret environment and sustainability. The U of S and Yukon College have a partnership established through a Memorandum of Understanding that enables the sharing of programs, research and other resources for the benefit of both institutions.

“Randall taught us that learning is holistic and knowledge comes from relationships, spirituality, care, and respect. Sustainability is nothing but respect for the natural law of caring for ‘everything.’” Ranjan Datta, PhD student.


SENS thanks the International Centre for Northern Government and Development, the College of Education, the Department of Geography and Planning and the Canadian Light Source for their financial and in-kind support of the Northern Elder-in-Residence visit.

For more about Randall Tetlichi, read the On Campus News feature story.