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Department of Environment and Resource Studies


Nature of the Program

The Department of Environment and Resource Studies offers both an Honours Regular program and an Honours Co-operative program.

These two Honours degree programs are oriented towards study of the many dimensions of human inter-relationships with various environments, including natural and managed landscapes, buildings and cities, small groups, communities, and whole societies. Through problem- and issue-oriented inquiry into such complex relationships, along with related study in contributing academic disciplines, ample scope is provided for acquiring a broad-based education, as well as technical knowledge and skills.

The current emphases in research and scholarship among the faculty fall into three major thematic areas:

  1. Sustainable Environmental and Resource Systems
  2. Environmental and Social Impact Assessment
  3. Natural Area Management

Many of the positions held by graduates of the Department can be described by one of these headings.

An even more important goal of the programs offered by the Department is the development of abilities to think and to analyse which are not artificially constrained by conventional boundaries of academic disciplines. The importance of the ability to analyse environmental situations from a broad perspective derives from the recognition that the complex interrelated problems of the contemporary world and of the future will only be resolved through this type of approach. These problems require attention from people who not only have specialized technical abilities, but also have increased perspective, awareness and understanding. They must also have the ability to work effectively in cooperation with others and to take responsibility for the human, social, and environmental implications of the results.

The Environment and Resource Studies programs are flexible and do not concentrate on one technical or pre-professional field to meet specifications for particular jobs. Rather, by presenting a wide range of subjects and problems inherent in the theme of human-environment relationships, the programs allow students to see for themselves what the needs of society are. Through selection of topics for study within required courses, through selection of electives, and through summer work experiences in the Regular program and work-term experiences in the Co-operative program, students can equip themselves for careers which will meet those societal needs.

Some graduates of the Department of Environment and Resource Studies further enhance their qualifications through graduate study.

Graduates holding the BES degree in Environment and Resource Studies have found employment in a range of government agencies in fields such as natural resources management, pollution control, social services planning, and urban affairs as well as with private corporate and consulting firms in the communications industry and environmental design; with other universities as full-time teaching or research personnel, and with community agencies in various social programs. Many also dedicate themselves to considerable voluntary work with environmental and community-based organizations. Others who have graduated from Environment and Resource Studies have gone on to post-graduate work in programs such as urban and metropolitan studies, natural resources administration, regional planning, environmental engineering, law, systems design, teacher training, adult education, and communications studies.

The Department is fortunate in having a multidisciplinary faculty whose formal education and experience range over a number of disciplines in the natural sciences, social sciences and the humanities. They bring to the program qualifications in such fields as agriculture, biology, communications, economics, geography, law, mathematics, physics, political science, and sociology, as well as a variety of experiences in such diverse areas as ecological research, economic studies, urban affairs, technology assessment, and work with international organizations.

For the approach used in Environment and Resource Studies, considerable academic innovation has been desirable. Besides lectures and labs, the program emphasizes open-door, personal contact among students and faculty members; student-selected projects and community work; field trips to environments other than lecture halls; team teaching; a regular flow of visitors from outside the University; and workshop instruction to help develop techniques and skills relevant to environmental studies. Students in both the Regular and Co-operative Environment and Resource Studies programs are encouraged to relate aspects of their academic program to summer or work-term employment, involvement with community organizations or other self-generated activity. Students often incorporate this experiential learning into the university-based educational process. For many students a RthemeS-oriented program of this kind offers a more satisfying undergraduate education than traditional alternatives.

More information may be obtained from the Undergraduate Officer, Department of Environment and Resource Studies.

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Bachelor of Environmental Studies
(Honours Environment and Resource Studies Program)

The formal admission requirements of the program are listed beginning "Admissions" of this Calendar. Six OAC credits including English are required.

The Faculty of Environmental Studies expects that students enrolled in any of its programs should be able to demonstrate competence in writing. Accordingly, all students newly admitted to the Faculty (except those who have passed OAC 1 English with a final grade of 80% or higher) are required to write the English Language Proficiency Examination during their first term of registration (normally scheduled during registration week in September). The English Language Proficiency Program is recorded on the student's academic record as Arts 000Y. Because of the necessity of communicating research and project results, both in the program and in careers after graduation, writing skills are particularly important in Environment and Resource Studies.

Applicants who have been out of school for a number of years are considered on the basis of their work experiences, their involvement in environmental activities or interests in environmental studies, as well as their past academic record.

There are 13 required courses in the program. The first-year introductory courses examine major environmental themes from the viewpoints of the natural and social sciences. In the second year, further work in natural ecology and the social sciences including techniques for investigating environmental questions and experience in conducting a systematic enquiry through the device of small group projects helps to introduce other perspectives and themes running through environment and resource studies. Additional course work on research design, methodology, and information or data handling is also required in the second year.

The core requirements for the third and fourth years include an in-depth examination of the development of environmental thought and a two-term independent project course in each year, in which the student, working with an advisor, develops a project proposal and undertakes research. Arrangements to receive extra credit for project work have been provided for those who learn most effectively through undertaking self-directed work under the guidance of faculty and other advisors.

The emphasis given to project-oriented learning within the program reflects the importance attached to having students develop increasingly sophisticated abilities for coping with situations that are inherently complex, value-laden, ambiguous and uncertain. Project-oriented learning provides the occasion to practise skills in problem definition, information and data gathering, analysis and synthesis of material, and presentation of results in a suitable format using the most appropriate communications media. Skills of this nature can be refined, adapted and applied in whatever context or situations students choose during and after their university years. An increasing number of students incorporate work with governmental agencies, community organizations and other groups into projects they select for their third- and fourth-year project assignments and, in a few cases, well-conceived and executed projects have led to employment in a variety of organizations.

Elective courses can be chosen from anywhere in the University and options start from the first year in the program. Faculty will advise on this, but essentially there are five possibilities, as follows:

  1. The Honours Regular and Co-operative Programs
    Students take the required core program and whatever sets of elective courses they wish to round out their individual interests and skills.
  2. A Joint Honours Degree
    Students can elect to take a Joint Honours degree with another department, which will require fulfilling the core program of a second department as well as Environment and Resource Studies.
  3. A Minor
    Students can elect to take a Minor with another department, which requires completion of ten term courses in another department, as designated by that department.
  4. An Option
    Students can elect to take one of the recognized Options outside of the department involving choices among sets of courses all bearing on some theme or field of interest. See, for example: Society, Technology and Values (STV), Administration, Canadian Studies, Legal Studies, Management Studies, Peace and Conflict Studies. These are listed in the Calendar under "Interdisciplinary Programs". A Business Option, offered jointly with Wilfrid Laurier University, is also available. The requirements of the Business Option are outlined in "Academic Programs" in the calendar.

In each case students should give careful consideration to their choices in terms of the educational goals and possible careers they may wish to pursue after obtaining a BES degree. They would also do well to seek information and advice on the kind of undergraduate courses favoured by graduate programs in which they may be interested.

The recommended course load is five term courses per term. Each student must have completed 40 term courses or the equivalent to graduate. Of these, 13 are specific required courses. An additional five courses must be selected from ERS and/or ENV S courses, with 22 courses as free electives. A cumulative overall average of 65.0% and a cumulative average of 70.0% in ERS/ENV S courses must be maintained. There are several evaluation techniques used to determine grades.

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The Honours Regular Program Requirements


Year One
ARTS 000 English Language Proficiency Exam (not a course)
ENV S 195 Introduction to Environmental Studies
ERS 100 Analysis of Environmental Problems 1
ERS 101 Analysis of Environmental Problems 2
ENV S 178 Introduction to Environmental Research Methods

plus electives for a total of ten term courses


Year Two
ENV S 200 Field Ecology
ERS 218 Introduction to Sustainable Environmental and Resource Systems
ERS 285 Greening the Campus

plus electives for a total of ten term courses


Year Three
ERS 390A Environmental Research Project
ERS 390B Environmental Research Project
ERS 395 Development of Environmental Thought

plus electives for a total of ten term courses


Year Four
ERS 490A Senior Honours Project
ERS 490B Senior Honours Project
ERS 496 Environmental Thought and Strategies for Sustainability

plus electives for a total of ten term courses


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The Honours Co-operative Program Requirements

Terms 1A, 1B, 4A and 4B are the same as Years One and Four respectively of the Regular program. During the Winter term of Year One (1B) interested students may apply to enter the Co-op program. Admission decisions to the program will be made during May-June following 1B. Students will be notified as soon as these decisions are made. In the Fall term (2A) Co-op students will be interviewed for jobs. The first work term will be in the Winter following 2A. A total of four approved work term reports is required for the Honours Co-op degree. The Co-op schedule is as follows:
Terms 1A and 1B
Same as Regular program
Term 2A
ENV S 200 Field Ecology
ERS 218 Introduction to Sustainable Environmental and Resource Systems
ENV S 178 Introduction to Environmental Research Methods

plus electives for a total of five term courses


Term 2B
ERS 285 Greening the Campus
ERS 390A Environmental Research Project
ENV S 200 Field Ecology (when offered)

plus electives for a total of five term courses


Term 3A
ERS 390B Environmental Research Project

plus electives for a total of five term courses


Term 3B
ERS 395 Development of Environmental Thought

plus electives for a total of five term courses


Terms 4A and 4B
Same as Regular program
Deviation from this schedule may cause difficulty in satisfying all requirements.

Note
The arrangement of academic and work terms, and further information on Co-operative study generally, are given in Chapter 5 of the Calendar. Students transferring to ERS with 5.0 credits of advanced standing and considering the Co-op program should consult the ERS Admissions Officer or Undergraduate Officer. Only a small number of transfer students (two or three) will be admitted to the ERS Co-op Program each year. These students will be selected from Co-op applicants on the basis of applicants' marks in the first semester of their enrolment in ERS.

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Joint Honours Programs

Students may combine Environment and Resource Studies with another academic discipline to earn a Joint Honours degree. Arrangements to do this have been approved with 13 other departments and more are being considered. Students interested in Joint Honours should consult with the Undergraduate Officer.

Minors

Consult "Academic Programs".

Options

Consult Interdisciplinary Programs.

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