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Faculty of Arts
Faculty of Education
Faculty of Environmental Studies
Faculty of Fine Arts
Faculty of Pure and Applied Science
Atkinson Faculty of Liberal and Professional Studies
Osgoode Hall Law School
Schulich School of Business
Courses of Instruction
Glendon College

The Bachelor in Environmental Studies

The Faculty of Environmental Studies offers both a Specialized Honours BES program (120 credits) and a bachelor program (90 credits).

The Faculty of Environmental Studies (FES) provides a unique educational experience in an expanding field of study and research. Defined broadly from an interdisciplinary perspective, environmental studies at FES is a combination of core courses and four distinct academic and professional areas of concentration in:

  • Environment and Culture: Philosophy, Arts, Technology and Education;
  • Environmental Politics: Development, Globalization and Justice;
  • Environmental Management: Policy, Resources and Conservation; and
  • Urban and Regional Environments: Analysis, Planning and Design.

A coherent set of core courses, area of concentration courses and elective courses provides a well-rounded education in various fields relating to natural, built, organizational and social environments. Faculty members come from a wide range of backgrounds including political science, ecology, planning, philosophy, sociology, geography, economics, education, architecture, and anthropology. All share a commitment to exploring the complex questions and solutions of the human and environmental challenges facing the world.

The BES program introduces students to the links between the exploitation of the natural world and justice issues related to class exploitation, racism, and gender inequity. Fully aware of the growing interdependencies of human and natural life worlds in a globalized environment, the Faculty of Environmental Studies believes that an inclusion of non-Western perspectives is essential to a fruitful discussion of all environmental issues. To that end, faculty members strive to include a broad range of perspectives in their course offerings. York's BES program is designed to equip students with the knowledge and understanding to deal effectively yet sensitively with complex environmental and social problems arising at the local, regional, national or global scale.

In the first two years of the program, students take required courses that introduce them to the wide range of environmental studies while building critical academic and practical knowledge, including research, writing, analytical and communication skills. During the latter half of the first year, students start creating their "Plan of Study", a portfolio-style document, that helps to guide them through the BES program. The plan of study is also initially used to identify an area of concentration, which is designed to give structure and focus to a student's program in the years ahead. The plan of study process is supported by group and individual advising by staff, faculty and teaching assistants in core and foundation courses.

The BES program offers four areas of concentration that reflect the Faculty's broad understanding of environmental studies. Students in the program use these areas of concentration to help them begin to define their own interests within the plan of study. In their second year, each student will take two of the four "foundations courses" which introduce each area of concentration. While students will be required to choose one of the four areas as their "home", they can still change their focus during the second year. Normally, students that switch areas will have to take the foundations course of the area they switch to during the third year (if they have not taken it during their second year).

What the BES program offers:

  • interdisciplinary expertise to understand and solve environmental problems;
  • opportunities to develop specific skills and in-depth learning;
  • a wide range of courses covering the humanities, social sciences and environmental science;
  • an outlook that includes local and global, philosophical and applied questions;
  • an emphasis on bringing theoretical and practical matters together in the classroom;
  • the knowledge and skills needed for environmental careers and graduate studies;
  • an atmosphere in which students know that learning matters.

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