With extreme weather becoming more prominent in the world, the need to address and help prevent further climate change has become more necessary than ever. Brock University is now providing students with an opportunity to be a part of that prevention with a minor in Environmental Sustainability provided through the Environmental Sustainability Research Centre (ESRC). With Hurricane Harvey, the first major hurricane to touch landfall in the U.S. since Hurricane Wilma, the timing couldn’t be any more perfect.
The new minor aims to combine the study of social and environmental sciences with economics, ideally suited to equip the student not only with an understanding of how to protect the natural environments that are necessary for survival, but to do so in a way that helps protect and even improve the overall quality of human life. For instance, what ways can we protect the environment from worsening climate conditions while still supporting the overall population through its continued growth.
While it is easy to see the larger picture, it is hard to consider the impact of even the smallest actions of an individual on the environment’s overall health. Looking at extreme weather over the past few decades in the form of hurricanes like Katrina, Sandy, or most recently Hurricane Harvey, make it easier to see why it is so important to integrate environmental sustainability into society.
This new minor will allow students the opportunity to delve into the subject while still in their undergraduate degrees, inspiring more students to consider future paths in green energy, and in protection of the natural environment that is in need of addressing. Additionally, Environmental Sustainability does not only address current issues of climate change, but touches on all aspects of life through addressing the environment and our relationship to it.
Perhaps the most interesting aspect of the new minor is how varying the range of co-operating centres and departments involved are, from Earth Science and Economics to Studies in Arts and Culture and even Visual Arts. This is for a very specific reason, particularly that the new minor, while being about Environmental Sustainability, is, at its core, about breaking barriers between subjects, working in tandem to provide students with a wider, more nuanced understanding of environmental issues. Additionally, the minor aims to take “ a transdisciplinary orientation to encourage connections among ideas and prepare students to engage with a dynamic and complex world.”
With the program involving so many different transdisciplinary aspects, the minor is a suitable addition to many different fields of study, so students outside of Geography and Earth Sciences might find this to be an interesting choice in further enriching their educational experience.
Though the Environmental Sustainability minor is still under development, two second year courses will be available online for the fall semester: Introduction to Environmental Sustainability (ENSU 2P01) which involves a look into the overall concepts and importance of Environmental Sustainability, and Environmental Sustainability in Practice (ENSU 2P02) which involves an introduction into the practice of Environmental Sustainability in a variety of fields.
Additional third year courses are also available and while they do not have the second year courses listed as prerequisites, students are strongly recommended to take the second year courses first. A minor in Environmental Sustainability will require 1.5 ENSU credits to be quantifiable as well as an additional 2.5 credits from a list of approved courses. Students are allowed to take an Environmental Sustainability course without minoring, however registration will favour those who are minoring first.
While there is only a minor currently available in Environmental Sustainability, if students wish to continue exploring the subject post-undergrad, Brock University also offers The Sustainability Science and Society (SSAS) graduate program, first available in 2014. This program offers students the chance to gain a Master of Sustainability within either 16 months or 24 months, as the program is offered in two different paths: Scheme A which includes classroom studies and practical experience, or Scheme B which involves extensive research experience. The program totes an emphasis on “overcoming barriers among traditional disciplines and sectors”.
For more information on The Sustainability Science and Society graduate program, please visit https://brocku.ca/esrc/ssas/.