Meet the CEN: Staff Spotlight with Kshamta Hunter

“Meet the CEN” is a new series that shines a spotlight on the dynamic individuals who make up the heart of our Community Engagement Network (CEN). As we continue to foster collaboration, learning, and community-building within the realm of community engagement at UBC, it’s our pleasure to share the stories and insights of those who drive this essential work forward.

Meet Kshamta Hunter!

We’re thrilled to introduce you to Kshamta Hunter, the Manager of Transformative Learning and Student Engagement within the Sustainability Hub at UBC. In addition to her role, Kshamta is an instructor in the Faculty of Education and a recent recipient of the UBC President’s Service Award for Excellence. With a deep commitment to sustainability and climate action, Kshamta empowers students to lead and learn through immersive community engagement experiences.

Dive into Kshamta’s interview, available in both video and written formats below.

How do you support community-university engagement?

My work with the Sustainability Hub and in my teaching centers around the intersection of learning and leadership, primarily focusing on student engagement. Community engagement becomes essential when we think about sustainability and climate crises and how to make these experiences relevant for our student community here at UBC.

At the Sustainability Hub, we run various engagement programs for our students, such as the Sustainability Scholars Program, a graduate internship program where students work with our community partners on their sustainability and climate action goals. We also have the Sustainability Ambassadors Program, an immersive leadership experience for students to learn and lead experiential learning projects with their community partners. Recently, we introduced a new Catalyst Certification Program aimed at validating and recognizing student leadership in climate crisis and sustainability, which often goes unnoticed.

How did you get started in community engagement work?

My introduction to community engagement began through student engagement at the Sustainability Hub, where engaging students in sustainability and climate action is crucial for relevance and experiential learning. I connect students to community projects where they can work on sustainability issues relevant to them.

What does reciprocal community engagement mean to you?

Reciprocal community engagement means building relationships on mutually beneficial terms by aligning goals through understanding your partners, which requires time and effort. It involves getting to know the community partners and finding a middle ground to align our goals together.

Can you share an example of reciprocal community engagement?

Last year, students from the Sustainability Ambassadors program, collaborated with the Dunbar Residents’ Association on developing a 2-3 year Youth Engagement Strategic Plan. The plan they worked on had a strong focus on fostering sustainability, building intergenerational relationships, addressing social isolation, and combatting food insecurity within the Dunbar community. It was informed by extensive research of local examples and community outreach consultations. 

Initially, the students faced challenges in aligning their goals with the community partner. We had to invest time in various meetings, both over Zoom and in person, to communicate and understand each other better. Despite the initial challenges, in the end, we achieved clarity in our goals and exceeded expectations, leaving both the partner and students satisfied with the outcomes. The experience highlighted the importance of investing time in meetings and getting to know the people you work with.

What is a challenge you face working in community engagement?

One challenge I’ve faced is compensation. UBC lacks clear compensation guidelines for students, staff, faculty, Indigenous and non-Indigenous community members. This often leads to discussions without clear guidelines to follow. I find the UBC Indigenous Financial Guidelines document beneficial for creating our unit-level guidelines and acknowledging the work community members do.

Can you share a resource for others doing community engaged work?

A resource I use frequently is related to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), also known as Global Goals. The British Columbia Council for International Cooperation (BCCIC) has a Movement Map that identifies local community organizations and NGOs working on the SDGs. It’s a valuable tool to connect with organizations working on similar goals in your community.

If you’d like to find out more about UBC Sustainability Hub’s programs and connect with Kshamta directly, visit