Field schools and courses

Enthnoecology fieldschool students working with plants

Students working together on Tl’ches (Chatham Island) during an ethnoecology field school offered in partnership with the Songhees Nation. Students and community members contributed to a collaborative research project led by the Songhees Nation.

student group lunch peru

Professors Peredo and Turner with their students in Lamas, Peru’s Andean-Amazon region living sustainably.

Students participating in a trust fall exercise

In the Redfish School of Change, students learn to be leaders in the fields of ecological sustainability and social equity.

Students hiking in a field

A field school offers a unique experiential learning environment that is not possible in a traditional classroom.

Students participating in a personal reflection exercise overlooking the Salish Sea on Saturna Island

Critical reflection and journaling are important academic components of the Redfish experience.

group photo lodge

Galiano Island Field Study students with Professor Eric Higgs, summer 2018.

Summer 2022 field schools and application deadlines: MARCH 1, 2022

Summer field schools 2022 - offerings TBD soon!

Application Instructions

Please email one PDF file directly to the course instructor that contains:

1) a one-page cover letter outlining your interest in the course, your preparation for it, and how it supports your academic and professional plans,

2) a CV, and

3) Unofficial Transcripts.

Name the file as follows: Last Name, Course Number, Application. (e.g. Smith ES 433 Application.pdf)

Biodiversity and Conservation of Coastal BC

ES 470 Biodiversity and Conservation of Coastal BC is designed to allow students to gain understanding of ecological methods, biodiversity science, and current conservation and restoration topics in coastal, marine, and terrestrial biodiversity. The majority of the course is taught outdoors around the Hakai Beach Institute through field trips, laboratory exercises like a shore crab capture-mark-recature exercise, and student-led research projects.

Visit the Starzomski Lab for more details, photos, and course syllabus. 

For information about other field schools at top British Columbia universities, visit BC Field Schools: Biology and Environmental Studies.

Community and regional coastal-marine conservation

ES 470: Community and regional coastal-marine conservation

This 5-day intensive field course aboard the schooner Passing Cloud will give students first-hand experience of the issues facing coastal and marine conservation at a community and regional scale. Course activities will include meetings with stakeholders, presentations, discussions, and projects. Registration is by application, and there is an additional fee to take this course.

Visit Dr. Ban's Marine Ethnoecology Research group for more details and photos.

For information about other field schools at top British Columbia universities, visit BC Field Schools: Biology and Environmental Studies.

Ethnoecology Field Methods - Summer 2023

ES 481 Field Methods in Ethnoecology is a two week ethnoecological field methods class in partnership with the Songhees Nation. The class is offered at Tl’ches (Chatham Island) and is a compressed format field course designed to provide students with both fundamental and more advanced field skills necessary for a career working outside in the sciences. This is entirely hands-on training, travelling each morning by zodiac from Victoria to the islands. Skills include wilderness navigation and travel, surface survey, ethnobotany and plant identification, tree increment boring, field mapping, subsurface testing, soils and sediments analysis, note-taking, photography, and many other practical skills. While you will learn advanced technology, such as drone mapping and high-precision GPS, the spirit of the course is one rooted on the land, of taking the time to develop your ability to see the land and ocean in new ways. This class involves both Lekwungen Coast Salish elders and community members, and your field work actively contributes to a collaborative research project with the Songhees Nation. Additional fees are necessary to support field expenses and a community event.

Prerequisites: Third year standing, ES 200, and at least one on ES 301, 321, or 341.

Galiano Island Field Study - Summer 2022

ES 471 Galiano Island Field Study is in a compressed format field study focused on regenerative and restorative designs for ecological and social resilience. Offered in partnership with the Galiano Conservancy Association with field portion based on Galiano Island. Additional fees are necessary to support field expenses.


  • If taken as ES 471,
  • ES 200 and ES 341; or
  • permission of the school.
  • If taken as ER 412,
  • ER 311; and
  • admission to Certificate or Diploma program in Restoration of Natural Systems; or
  • permission of the program.

Visit Dr. Higgs’ course website for more details and photos.

galiano boat

Challenges and Trade-offs From Farm to Plate - Summer TBD

ES 481 Topic: Challenges and Trade-offs From Farm to Plate is an intensive food-focussed field course. Students along with instructors John Volpe (UVic) and Dan Hayes (The London Chef) together with a wide array of producers, distributors, chefs and food professionals will examine the opportunities and challenges of food production, quality, security, identity and sustainability from farm to plate on southern Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands. Students will be introduced to the breadth of food value chains in the Victoria region and undertake a critical examination of trade-offs and opportunities for the regional food future. There will be intermittent “lecture days” on the UVic campus but this is largely a “hands on”, off-campus field course with overnight or multiday regional trips.

Permaculture Field School - Summer TBD

ES 473 Practical Permaculture Applications is hosted on a functioning permaculture homestead and educational facility on Cortes Island, BC. The course will emphasize applied and experiential learning, focusing on the design, implementation and maintenance of permaculture systems. Students will learn skills and techniques related to the establishment and maintenance of agroecology, perennial polyculture, animal husbandry, plant propagation, natural building, and the implementation of small-scale water and energy systems. Cortes Island offers a rich variety of ecosystems that we will visit and learn from, including old growth and second growth temperate rainforests, clearcuts, and both marine and freshwater aquatic ecosystems.

Visit UVic Permaculture for more information or contact  View student video Permaculture Field School 2017 on Linnaea Farm - Cortes Island.

Redfish School of Change - Summer 2023

Salmon don't carry passports. Orcas don't identify as Canadian or American. The waters of the Salish Sea are shared between Canada and the United States, and many of the gifts and challenges of the region affect both nations. How are the people who share the same bioregion-but carry different passports, working for change? How can we, as residents of this special region, best apply our skills and talents to benefit this region?

The Redfish School of Change explores these questions through an interactive and experiential field school. It is designed for undergraduate students interested in being leaders in the fields of ecological sustainability and social equity. Over the course of six weeks, students in this interdisciplinary leadership program travel, live and learn on both sides of the border in the Salish Sea. The program brings together students from Western Washington University in Bellingham, Washington with students from the University of Victoria. As a Redfish student, you work alongside local educators, serve community groups, and engage with experts in the fields of environment and social justice.

Redfish students at rest and play
Redfish students at rest and play.

Redfish students stop for some rest, and play, while cycling the Lochside Trail in Saanich.  Much of the transportation during the Redfish field program is human-powered, including cycling, kayaking, and hiking.