Sustainability in academics and research

Students with a clay demonstration
Environmental studies students with their clay art works. The pieces are now a part of the collaborative mural in the David Turpin building.


The University of Victoria is focused on integrating sustainability into its courses and experiential learning programs.

Sustainability education enables us to understand ourselves and our connections with the wider natural and social environment. Currently UVic offers hundreds of undergraduate and graduate courses that include sustainability themes in a wide variety of different disciplines. Check out the list of sustainability focused and related courses for 2018-19.

For a summary of what's currently offered, see below:

Sustainability related disiplines

Academic sustainability spotlight

  • The Gustavson School of Business has been developing students' skills and awareness to do business sustainably and responsibly by building these values into core curricula for over 15 years. In that time, its importance has grown both in the world and in the minds of our students, faculty and staff, to the point that sustainability is now one of the four pillars of the school's mission and values. In 2011, the School launched the Centre for Social and Sustainable Innovation (CSSI), UVic's first intra-faculty centre, that connects teachers, researchers and community around building Gustavson's pillar of sustainability.
  • The School of Environmental Studies is an interdisciplinary program based on three pillars: ethnoecology, political ecology and ecological restoration. It has become one of Canada's most extensive academic programs focused on exploring and solving environmental issues in society. ES 200, an Introduction to Environmental Studies, has a unique focus on food security issues and is considered one of the largest classes in Canada focused on food issues with over 550 students enrolling annually.
  • The Division of Continuing Studies offers a series of practical how-to courses and seminars on environmental sustainability for the campus and surrounding community. Courses are affordable and flexible, anddesigned for both personal and professional development. See their website for more info on their sustainably themed courses and diploma programs including the popular Ecological Restoration Professional Specialization Certificate.

Experiential and service learning

The Redfish School of Change is an interactive and experiential field school designed for undergraduate students interested in food security, ecological sustainability, and social equity. Over the five week course, students participating in this interdisciplinary leadership program live and learn in some of the most beautiful places in British Columbia, while working alongside local food producers and ecological restorationists, and engaging with experts in the fields of environment and social justice. By accepting only sixteen students each year, the program provides customized instruction and support helping students to flourish and develop their capacity and confidence to lead home communities on the environmental issues.

The Department of Geography hosts a number of field schools that bring students out of the classroom into community and wilderness settings:

  • Cascadia Sustainability Field School (GEOG 388 and 391)
  • Coastal Field School (GEOG 424, 457 and 474)
  • Hakai Field School (GEOG 453)
  • Field Studies in Physical Geography (GEOG 477)

The Faculty of Social Sciences now offers an interdisciplinary service learning course,Working in the Community: Lessons in engagement (SOSC 300). Students take their learning out of the classroom as they complete 40 hours of voluntary work with a community organization. Students are expected to critically reflect on their practicum experience and its implications for social science scholarship and self development. Other classes include a community service learning component such as Personal Health, Wellness and Potential (EPHE 142).

The Enviornmental Law Clinic offers law students the opportunity to work under the supervision of a senior environmental lawyer to provide legal representation and legal assistance to community/conservation groups and First Nations, produce citizen handbooks and other public legal education materials, and advocate on a wide range of environmental law reform issues.

The UVic EcoCAR2 team is made up of UVic engineering faculty and students who are competing in the NeXT Challenge, a three year competition between universities sponsored by the US Department of Energy and General Motors. Students use a real-world engineering process to design and integrate their advanced technology solutions into a GM-donated vehicle.


UVic is consistently ranked in the top tier of Canada’s research-intensive universities. UVic researchers lead Canada and the world in addressing some of the most complex fields of inquiry that is facing society, economy and environment.

Our particular research strengths include oceans, climate change, global change and sustainability. Notable research programs include:

      • Ocean Networks  operates world-leading ocean observatories off the British Columbia coast and in the Arctic. The regional NEPTUNE and coastal VENUS cabled observatories supply continuous power and Internet connectivity to a broad suite of subsea instruments from the coast to the deep sea, supporting research on complex ocean and Earth processes in ways not previously possible.
      • Pacific Institute for Climate Solutions (PICS) is hosted by UVic builds on the strengths of BC’s five research-intensive universities to develop climate change solutions and lead the way to the development of sound public policy and informed effective solutions.
      • POLIS Water Sustainability Project is a research centre focused on water policy and governance issues, and acts as a bridge between theory and action.

Learn more about our sustainability-minded research initiatives by visiting the UVic Research website and by checking out the links below:

Research initiatives

Community-based research

  • Centre for Community Health Promotion Research is devoted to creating equitable conditions for health by generating knowledge based on the interrelationship of theory, practice, policy, education, and community-based research.

Experiential Learning: Co-op at UVic

The Co-operative Education program at UVic provides students with the opportunity to engage in experiential learning during their degree program. During the 2016-2017 academic term, there were at least 138 reported job placements pertaining to sustainability. Students looking to pursue a career relating to sustainability can participate in work terms that are socially, economically and environmentally sustainable.