Skip to main content

Environmental Studies

Study the social, cultural, political and scientific aspects of environmental issues. In this program, you’ll look at innovative solutions to environmental challenges. The areas of focus at UVic are:

  • ethnoecology
  • ecological restoration
  • political ecology

Potential careers

What can you do with an environmental studies degree? Here are a few jobs that relate to the program:

  • ecologist
  • sustainability coordinator
  • environment impact assessment officer
  • fishery conservation officer
  • environmental technician
  • energy conservation officer
  • eco-adventure tourism guide
  • wildlife habitat specialist
  • ecology assistant
  • Indigenous education advisor
  • treaty negotiator
  • policy impact analyst
  • research analyst
  • urban or regional planner
  • community engagement coordinator
  • waste management officer
  • environmental educator
  • sustainability educator
  • field or parks technician
  • natural resources specialist
  • climate action campaigner

Some of these roles may require post-graduate studies or training. 

Find a career that fits you

Experience & connections

Opportunities in the environmental studies program

  • With the Co-op Program you can alternate study with paid work. 

Opportunities outside your program

  • With a work study position you can develop skills during your study term.
  • Volunteering is a great way to give back to your community while you build skills.

Networks you can connect to

Here are a few professional associations related to environmental studies:

Hands-on learning opportunities

These courses in the environmental studies  program offer extensive hands-on learning.

Community-service learning

ES 380 - Environmental Topics: Topics in Political Ecology
(variable course topics)
SOSC 300 - Working in the Community
Volunteer with a community organization (40 hours) and explore course concepts


Co-op work terms
Alternate academic study with paid work terms to gain workplace experience


ES 321 - Ethnoecology
Explore local and traditional environmental knowledge systems

ES 341 - Past, Present, and Future Ecologies
Examine the effects of ecological and cultural awareness on restoration

ES 384 - Natural and Social Systems Theory
Apply principles of systems theory to natural and social systems

ES 407 - Mindfulness, Sustainability and Social Change
Apply mindfulness techniques to environmental and social change projects

ES 409 - Food in Place, Skills for Change
Gain training in working with multi-party disputes, First Nations and non-governmental organizations

ES 421 - Ethnobotany: Plants and Human Cultures
(involves engagement with Indigenous communities)
Engage with Indigenous knowledge holders as you explore ethnobotany

ES 446 - Sustainable Fisheries
Observe and evaluate sustainable fisheries in the field and classroom

Field experience

ES 415 - Integral Systems Theory: Philosophy and Practice
Practice integral systems theory through engagement with O.U.R. (one united resource) Ecovillage

ES 423 - Traditional Systems of Land and Resource Management
(involves engagement with Indigenous communities)
Examine the benefits of traditional ecological knowledge on restoration strategies

ES 473 - Practical Permaculture Applications
Pursue an advanced practical study of permaculture principles in an field-based setting

ES 481 - Advanced Environmental Topics in Ethnoecology
(variable course topics)
Examine environmental areas through seminars and projects

Field school

ES 370 - Intermediate Field Study
Take part in a field-based study of environmental problems and solutions

ES 403 - Field Course in Reconciliation, Ecology and Place-based Law
(involves engagement with Indigenous communities)
Analyze the structure of law, policy and sustainability in a region

ES 429 - Urban Ethnoecology
Explore how city dwellers interact with urban and peri-urban habitats

ES 441 - Advanced Principles and Practice in Ecological Restoration
Investigate the meaning, limits and significance of ecological restoration

ES 470 - Advanced Field Study
(involves engagement with Indigenous communities)
Identify an environmental problem and design the solution process

Red Fish School of Change
Develop a community action plan during the course of a wilderness expedition

Professional and technical skill development

ES 378 - Leadership Skills for Change
Build the skills to lead effective change in community-engaged settings

Research project

ES 341 Past, Present, and Future Ecologies
Examine the effects of ecological and cultural awareness on effective restoration

ES 405 Climate, Energy and Politics
Work with community organizations to develop solutions to climate change

ES 429 - Urban Ethnoecology
Explore how city dwellers interact with urban and peri-urban habitats

ES 480 - Advanced Environmental Topics in Political Ecology
ES 481 - Advanced Environmental Topics in Ethnoecology
ES 482 - Advanced Environmental Topics in Ecological Restoration
(variable course topics)
Examine environmental areas through seminars and projects

Work experience

Work experience work terms
Take part in a modified co-op program requiring one or two work experiences

These courses are not always offered as described.

What you'll learn

Every student at UVic builds skills all employers look for. At UVic Co-op & Career we call these  "competencies". This is what you’ll learn in the environmental studies program.


  • understand how changes made by humans threaten ecosystems and use research to address these problems
  • understand why and how social, economic and political systems are degrading biophysical systems
  • understand how social, economic and political systems can be reshaped to respect biophysical limits and nurture ecological resilience
  • understand the characteristics and complexity of Indigenous and local knowledge systems and how they could help solve environmental problems
  • understand why and how social and biophysical knowledge must be brought together to solve ecological restoration problems
  • explain how successful restoration projects are conducted
  • understand the basic principles of complex systems theory and how they can be applied to social and biophysical domains
  • understand the need for and challenges of interdisciplinary research for environmental issues
  • be familiar with participatory research
  • be familiar with the importance of, and differences between, native and non-native species
  • be familiar with current and novel ecosystems
  • understand biodiversity and the threats to it
  • understand the history of colonialism and how it manifests in environmental challenges
  • be familiar with the centrality of decolonization and social justice in environmental solutions


  • analyze and integrate environmental research across the humanities and the natural and social sciences
  • integrate and apply diverse forms of knowledge
  • apply theoretical insights to environmental challenges
  • design and conduct basic studies to address environmental questions
  • use quantitative methods to present and analyze data
  • write effectively in a range of formats and for a variety of audiences
  • develop and deliver effective presentations for academic audiences and the general public
  • think independently and creatively about environmental problems and research
  • work in diverse teams that include a range of stakeholders to address issues of common concern


  • value and respect the complexity inherent in cultural-ecological interactions
  • recognize and respect a diversity of perspectives and values
  • appreciate interdisciplinary research and research across a range of disciplines
  • be committed to collaborative research and practice, including community engagement, respecting all knowledge holders and perspectives
  • respect scholarly integrity in all aspects of research and practice
  • appreciate the tensions and differences between research, advocacy and activism
  • understand the limitations of your environmental knowledge and skills
  • understand the inherent uncertainties in environmental research
  • be an ecological citizen who recognizes a responsibility to others and to future generations, as well as to equity, decolonization and environmental justice

What's next?

To explore more visit the environmental studies site. For degree planning contact your adviser for help.