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Research & partnerships

ES alumni Walker Tottman in the field camping on Mount Colonel Foster

In the School of Environmental Studies, our commitment to understand the world and our role in it pushes us beyond the usual boundaries. Merging science with social studies and the humanities, our research takes us from the heart of local communities to the vastness of the global stage.

Our faculty and graduate students are at the forefront of deepening our grasp of environmental issues and humanity's connection to the Earth.

Our community

Our people

What sets us apart is the calibre of our team. Our ranks include pioneering scholars and celebrated researchers, united not by individual accolades but by a commitment to work together.

Collaborating with diverse partners across academia, First Nations, government bodies, NGOs and global communities, we weave a mosaic of insights. This collaborative spirit has earned us accolades, but more importantly, it drives our shared goal of effecting meaningful change in the world.

Our partners

Our partners are crucial to our research and education efforts, making our work both meaningful and possible. They connect our students to real-world experiences and help bridge academic learning with practical application, working together to create lasting impacts on communities and the environment.

Grad students in the field at the Arctic Landscape Ecology Lab
Field research in the Tuktoyaktuk Coastlands with the Arctic Landscape Ecology Lab.

ES colloquium series

Join us for our weekly Research Colloquium series, designed to bring all of environmental studies together with the larger community to share thought provoking discussions. Speaker schedules are shared at the beginning of each term in September and January.

Graduate student hosts begin with a land acknowledgement and introduction to the speaker, followed by a 35-40 minute talk, then a chance to ask questions and share.

We look forward to seeing you there!

Wednesdays, 11:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m., September-April
David Turpin Building, Room B255

Our current research

Explore the cutting-edge work of our faculty research teams, where our three stream approach—ethnoecology, ecological restoration and political ecology—drives collaborative innovation.

In the Arctic Landscape Ecology Lab, Dr. Trevor Lantz and his team study how the Arctic's environment is changing, from permafrost melting to increased shrubs. By analyzing landscapes and ecosystems, they aim to understand these changes and how to address them.

As Canada Research Chair in Indigenous Political Ecology, Dr. Sarah Hunt / Tłaliłila’ogwa works collaboratively with diverse communities, students and knowledges to re-envision justice across the scales of Indigenous bodies, homes and lands/waters.

Dr. Deborah Curran’s team dives into the world of water and watershed sustainability, examining how laws and policies can help or hinder our response to environmental changes. They're all about making sure communities can adapt and thrive, using water wisely and respectfully.

Dr. Volpe’s Ecogastronomy Research Group use quantitative analyses of food and wine production systems to reveal linkages between ecological and social sustainability, “quality”, and the primacy of place … “Ecogastronomy”.

Dr. Eric Higgs’ team draws on multiple perspectives and methods to inform ecosystem restoration. These include repeat photography to track changes in mountain landscapes (the Mountain Legacy Project); practical and conceptual frameworks to guide interventions under conditions of rapid change; and bringing restoration closer to design professions, fostering connections with architecture and landscape architecture.

Dr. Natalie Ban and the Marine Ethnoecology Research team work towards a better future for coastal and marine systems – including people – through community-led and-engaged research on conservation and fisheries. Working mostly in British Columbia, they use methods from natural and social sciences, and braid together western science, local knowledge and Indigenous knowledges when appropriate and invited by partners.

Collaborating with First Nations, Dr. Darcy Mathews’ team delves into the ancient bond between people and their environment, using archaeology and ethnoecology. They uncover how past societies lived in harmony with nature, offering lessons for sustainable living today.

Dr. Loren McClenachan and her team focus on historical marine ecology, environmental history and marine conservation. They use archival and interview-based methods to quantify and contextualize long-term ecological changes to coastal seas and human perceptions of change, prioritizing work with management implications.

Dr. Nancy Shackelford’s Restoration Futures Lab focuses on restoration and stewardship of native ecosystems. They combine ecological theory with practical restoration work, aiming to enhance socio-ecological values in degraded ecosystems at local and global scales. Their work bridges ecological and social boundaries to understand the complex drivers of restoration outcomes.

Dr. James Rowe and his team study social movements and political theories to find paths toward social and ecological justice. By exploring strategies for change, they aim to address global challenges like climate change and inequality, pushing for a more just and generous world.

Dr Kara Shaw's team uses political ecology to understand environmental issues, arguing that the real challenges lie in our social and political systems. By rethinking politics and community actions, they seek transformative solutions for pressing environmental problems.

Focusing on the balance between society, economy and the environment, Dr. Gerald Singh and his team aim to find sustainable solutions that respect our planet. They tackle big questions, like how to reduce our impact on the earth while achieving goals for a better future.

Dr. Brian Starzomski and his team study biodiversity, how it's changing and why it matters, from protected areas to urban environments. They use tools like iNaturalist to gather data, aiming to protect unique ecosystems and the special species that call them home.

The ACME Lab tackles big ecological questions, studying how wildlife adapts to changes in climate and landscape. Partnering with governments, NGOs and First Nations, their research across Canada informs strategies to protect biodiversity, focusing on wildlife's behaviour, survival and the impact of human activities.