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Faculty of Environmental Studies (ES) – Bachelor in Environmental Studies (BES) Program Vision Statement and Expected Learning Outcomes


Vision Statement

The Bachelor in Environmental Studies (BES) program provides a well-rounded, interdisciplinary education in various fields relating to natural, built and social environments. The program is designed to equip students with the knowledge, critical understanding and capacity to deal effectively and sensitively with complex environmental and social challenges arising at the local, regional, national and/or global scale.

BES Program Structure

The Faculty of Environmental Studies (FES) offers both the BES Specialized Honours program (120 credits) and the BES program (90 credits). Environmental studies at FES is a combination of core courses and four distinct academic and professional areas of concentration:

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

BES Degree: Expected Learning Outcomes

The BES program introduces students to the relationships between the exploitation of the natural world and justice issues. Aware of the growing interdependencies of human and natural life in a globalized world, the Faculty of Environmental Studies (FES) believes that non-Western and Indigenous perspectives are essential to a fruitful discussion of environmental issues. To that end, faculty members strive to include a broad range of perspectives in their course offerings.

The BES program is committed to preparing students to take action on critical environmental issues. Students are encouraged to explore alternatives, strategies and action related to social and environmental change. Specific learning outcomes include:

  • the ability to identify and situate complex environmental issues with a critical interdisciplinary perspective;
  • the ability to understand, diagnose and engage with complex environmental topics, especially within the area of concentration chosen;
  • the skills to tackle complex environmental issues, including key research methodologies, analytical tools and essential communication approaches; and
  • the ability to engage effectively in society on pressing environmental challenges.

Progress through the BES Program

The BES program offers a set of core foundation courses, one in each area of concentration, as well as elective courses relating to natural, built or 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 to the human and environmental challenges facing the world. This approach provides flexibility and choice allowing students to combine many areas of interest.

In the first two years of the program, students take required courses that introduce them to the wide range of ideas in 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 begin to explore the areas of concentration within the BES program they will situate themselves within. In the second year, students choose at least two foundation courses, one of which is associated with the area of concentration which they wish to pursue in more detail in subsequent years in the BES program. A specific set of courses is associated with each area of concentration. The course selections within a given area of concentration are designed to give structure and focus to a student’s program. The area of concentration provides in-depth knowledge related to the focal topics. The majority of courses are selected on the basis of individual preferences. The course selection process is supported by regular one-on-one consultation with the BES student success coodinator.

BES Degree: Faculty Commitments

The Faculty of Environmental Studies commits to provide an intellectually-challenging and safe environment for all its students. Specific provisions include:

  • a challenging theoretical and practical intellectual learning environment;
  • a wide range of courses covering the humanities, social sciences and environmental sciences;
  • instructors with expertise in a wide range of fields;
  • one-on-one advising;
  • opportunities to develop both specific skills and in-depth learning;
  • an outlook that includes local and global, historical and contemporary, and philosophical and applied questions;
  • a commitment to justice issues related to ability, age, class, gender, race and sexual orientation;
  • the knowledge and skills needed for graduate studies and/or environmental careers (e.g. community arts, environmental education, urban planning, environmental policy, human/gender rights, international development policy).