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Sustainability Studies Elective Group

Interested in Sustainability Studies but don't have space for a full Minor? Consider the Elective Group in Sustainability Studies!

Many of the most pressing issues of the day have to do with the way humans interact with the environment. In fact, it can be argued that our very survival depends on our ability to interact in a sustainable way with the non-human components of the Earth. The issue of sustainability therefore cuts across disciplines, as does this elective group. Sustainability studies are therefore a good complement to any degree. With this in mind, this elective group is open to BA, BSc, and BComm students.

Credits required: 15

6 credits

This course begins with an introduction to the science of ecology and to the concept of sustainability as an ecological principle. The concept of sustainability is then broadened to include humans, as students are introduced to ethics, economics, and resource management from an eco-centric point of view. Students are encouraged to think critically about current environmental problems and to take action on an individual project. 

NOTE: Students who have received credit for BIOL 208 or for this topic under a BIOL 298 number may not take this course for credit.

NOTE: Students registered in a Biology program may not take this course for credit towards their Biology program but may take it towards the Sustainability Studies Elective Group.


The current state of biodiversity around the world and the forces that affect this diversity are the main focus of this course. It addresses the origins of this diversity, the advantages of variability in the environment for human life, and the contemporary challenges to this diversity. This course is intended to emphasize holistic thinking and system analysis.


9 credits chosen from

This course examines a number of global environmental issues from an interdisciplinary perspective. The complex interactions and interdependencies among the biophysical, socio-economic, political, and cultural aspects of global environmental change are explored in relation to issues such as global warming, desertification, deforestation, declining biodiversity, and acid rain.

NOTE: Students currently registered in a Human Environment, Environmental Geography, or Environmental Science program may not take this course for credit.



Prerequisite: open to students who have successfully completed 24 credits in any department. Students who do not have this prerequisite may register with the permission of the Department.

This course surveys major themes and problems in global environmental history from the last ice age to the present, but focusing primarily on Europe, Africa, Oceania, and the Americas since 1500. Topics include the history of ideas about nature; climate change; the Columbian Exchange; the environmental impact of science, technology, population growth, and urbanization; the politics of conservation; and environmentalism.

NOTE: Students who have received credit for this topic under a HIST 398 number may not take this course for credit.


From a variety of perspectives, including historical, environmental, economic, and cultural, this course examines major issues facing the world today. These issues may include international trade and the economy, the regulation of garbage and pollution, the decline in cultural variability, the spread and control of disease, and the effects of mass communication. This course is intended to develop an appreciation of a global view of the challenges which the world is likely to face in the next few decades.


This course explores the main differences between the world’s major cultures, religious beliefs, and philosophies, and addresses the tensions between establishing universal values and maintaining cultural diversity in an age of accelerating globalization. There is also an emphasis on the conception of different levels of social complexity, principally the role of the individual, the interpersonal, and the group within a society. This course is intended to develop team research and presentation skills, and the ability to communicate and work effectively within a small group setting.


This online course is an introduction to the emerging field of global environmental politics. It surveys the present environmental crisis and the roles of states, international organizations, and civil society. Various case studies dealing with oceans, forests, fisheries, biodiversity, global warming, and others are used to illustrate the inherent complexity of transnational ecological issues in the era of globalization.

This course explores the basic issues of the philosophy of science by examining the nature of science as an activity and a way of understanding the world. Cultural variations in the philosophy of science are discussed as well as contemporary disputes involving the interpretation of science: Darwinism; the “Science Wars”; science and religion; and feminist critiques of science. This course is intended to develop critical thinking and analysis, and deductive and inductive reasoning.

This course approaches the relationship between culture and communication by examining what it means to be an engaged citizen. Students explore cultural strategies in a global world with a view to expanding awareness of the role of imagination and creativity in expression and interpretation, and sensitivity to the role of cultural and other differences in the processes of communication. The class center on ideas about the body in relation to variations in cultural experience and how visual and performative expression impacts questions of interpretation, aesthetics, and ethical judgment.

This course explores the role of business in developing a sustainable global society. Students explore current environmental and societal concerns and the role of business in influencing them. Students learn how the relationships between business and various stakeholders, including communities, governments, and the natural environment, can create opportunities for generating economic, environmental, and social value.

This course focuses on the emerging business environment, and how organizations implement ecologically, socially, and economically sustainable management. Sustainable strategies are explored within the context of global economic development, to develop organizational vision, products and processes for achieving long‑term sustainable prosperity.

NOTE: Students who have received credit for this course under a MANA 299 or COMM 299 number may not take this course for credit.


This course examines recent developments in ethical theories as they are applied to questions of environmental practices. Topics discussed may include the moral significance of nonhuman nature, duties to respond to climate change, economics and sustainable environmental protection, and environmental justice.

NOTE: Students who have received credit for this topic under a PHIL 298 or 398 number may not take this course for credit.


This course studies energy — a critical resource for civilization — and the impact of energy consumption on societies and the environment. Topics include renewable and non-renewable energy sources, the physics of energy including the second law of thermodynamics and the notion of entropy, energy production and distribution, and social and global environmental issues such as pollution, sustainability, climate change, regulation and the future of energy. Lectures only.

NOTE: Students registered in Physics, Chemistry, Biochemistry, Electrical and Mechanical Engineering programs may not take this course for credit.

Course curriculum

Consult the Courses section for schedules and descriptions of the courses offered for this program this year.

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