Lakehead ranks among top universities in the world for societal impact

Thunder Bay and Orillia, Ont.

Lakehead University has once again been ranked in the top 10 per cent globally for universities making an impact through a commitment to sustainability and positive societal change, and the top-ranked university with under 10,000 students in Canada and North America.

The 2024 Times Higher Education (THE) Impact Rankings evaluated 1,963 participating institutions worldwide according to the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The UN’s 17 SDGs were established in 2015 as a blueprint for achieving a better, more sustainable future for all, and include goals such as no poverty, zero hunger, life on land, life below water, and partnerships focused on advancing the SDGs, among others.

Lakehead’s ranking reflects key operational initiatives, curricular programming and research projects that focus on addressing sustainability and inequality.

“Students are more often choosing where to study based on an alignment of values because they want to be part of a learning environment that is making a positive impact on local and global communities,” says Gillian Siddall, President and Vice-Chancellor of Lakehead University. “It is an honour to be recognized for Lakehead’s deep commitment to tackling some of our world’s greatest challenges. Being ranked in the top 10 per cent globally really hits home how much a university of Lakehead’s smaller size consistently exceeds expectations. This is an exceptional achievement that students, faculty and staff can all take pride in.”

THE’s Impact Rankings assess a university’s success in delivering on the UN’s 17 SDGs across the areas of research, stewardship, outreach and teaching using a range of quantitative and qualitative measures. Of the 1,963 post-secondary institutions evaluated, THE ranked Lakehead as a world leader in:

11th in the world and 3rd in Canada for SDG1: No Poverty. Lakehead University’s campuses are located in regions where the median income is below the provincial and national average. As one of the largest employers, post-secondary institutions and economic drivers in northwestern Ontario and Simcoe County, Lakehead University has a direct impact on the economic and social resiliency in the regions it serves. Lakehead delivers numerous supportive anti-poverty programs for students—including providing over $11 million annually in scholarships and bursaries—in addition to community-based programs such as the Ingenuity start-up assistance program to help local businesses get off the ground.

12th in the world and 2nd in Canada for SDG15: Life on Land. This SDG focuses on conserving life on land, including protecting, restoring and promoting sustainable terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably managing forests, combating desertification, and halting and reversing land degradation and biodiversity loss. Lakehead University incorporates sustainability principles into curriculum, research initiatives and campus operations to ensure the health and resilience of our ecosystems for generations to come. Students at Lakehead enjoy a range of programs that support land ecosystems through education including programs in environmental studies, natural resource management, forestry management, sustainability sciences, and more.

20th in the world and 4th in Canada for SDG14: Life Below Water. Healthy lakes, rivers and oceans are essential to human existence and Lakehead is a world leader in conservation and sustainable use of fresh-water ecosystems. Through strategic partnerships, Lakehead is leveraging collective expertise to drive innovation and impact marine conservation initiatives to foster environmental stewardship. Lakehead supports healthy aquatic ecosystems through community outreach programs, research initiatives, and degree programs such as undergraduate studies in water resource science.

The Impact Rankings also placed Lakehead University as 37th in the world and 4th in Canada for SDG6: Clean Water and Sanitation, 65th in the world and 7th in Canada for SDG13: Climate Action, and 84th in the world and 11th in Canada for SDG17: Partnerships for the Goals. Lakehead performed in the top 200 universities in the world spanning 14 of the 17 SDGs.

“Lakehead is a gem among Canada’s many university offerings for both domestic and international students,” says President Siddall. “We are a leader when it comes to building a better, more sustainable future—we have accomplished so much and have more to do as we strengthen our commitment to SDGs in our new strategic plan that is currently under development. For students who know that this kind of work is essential for our collective future, this year’s rankings solidify Lakehead as a destination of choice for anyone who is passionate about sustainability and building a hopeful future.”

Lakehead University’s two campuses are located in Thunder Bay in northwestern Ontario next to Lake Superior and the boreal forest, and in Orillia, known as Ontario’s lake country. As a leader in environmental programs, students benefit from exceptional field work and immersive learning experiences, cutting-edge laboratories, research opportunities, and have access to world-class faculty offering supportive instruction in smaller class settings.

This year’s Impact Rankings evaluated post-secondary institutions from over 125 countries including 24 Canadian universities.

To view Lakehead’s full results, visit the university’s Times Higher Education profile at:

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Times Higher Education Impact Ratings 2024
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