Skip to main content

Prospective students

Why choose us?

Grad student Isabel Giguere in the field
Grad student Isabel Giguere in the field studying black-tailed deer.

From day one, you’ll dive into real-world learning like exploring the Salish Sea, participating in local restoration efforts, or joining a field school in France. Our approach combines hands-on experience with the wisdom of communities. We aim to work together to empower you with the courage, creativity and hope needed to face the future’s complex challenges.

Environmental studies at UVic offers an integrated, experiential and impassioned course-load. The school really balances the despair you get from learning about the state of our global environment and social health with the tools and passion to get out in the world and do something about it.

The three streams

Our strength is built on three core focus areas that help us face environmental issues by seeing the whole picture through science, society and everything in between. This approach sets us apart, giving us the tools and knowledge to dig deep and make real impact.

Ethnoecology explores how people and nature live together, highlighting how diverse cultures respect and protect the Earth. Join Trevor Lantz, Natalie Ban, Darcy Mathews and Gerald Singh as they interpret our changing relationship to nature and bring this knowledge to bear on critical issues of land rights, climate change and the recovery of knowledge.

Ecological restoration focuses on repairing damaged environments, restoring them to their natural, healthy states. Join Eric Higgs, John Volpe, Brian Starzomski, Nancy Shackelford and Loren McClenachan to learn about effective, long term ecological restoration and the integrated approach this requires.

Political ecology examines the impact of leadership and business decisions on the environment, seeking solutions to environmental challenges. Join Karena Shaw, James Rowe, Deborah Curran and Sarah Hunt in understanding the main barriers to change and recognizing the subtle shades between simple black and white solutions.

Our history

The start of the Environmental Studies Program was thanks to many dedicated people. Marc Bell, Derrick Sewell and other faculty members at UVic suggested ways to tackle environmental issues. They proposed a low-cost and quick-to-implement Environmental Studies Program. In 1972, a detailed plan was shared with the Arts and Sciences faculty for feedback. By 1974, Dean Jean-Paul Vinay formed a committee to put key parts of the plan into action, starting the university-wide experimental Environmental Studies Program.

The program was approved with a condition to review it in four years. In 1978, an extensive review took place, and the steering committee made several recommendations. They suggested making ES a regular interdisciplinary program with its own director and steering committee. The Faculty of Arts and Sciences, the University Senate and the Board of Governors approved these recommendations. In 1979, ES became a regular campus program, eventually growing into the School of Environmental Studies by 1999. Many students and faculty were involved in its early stages, and after 36 years, most of the original goals have been achieved.