What is the difference between Environmental Studies and Environmental Science

Environmental Studies focuses on the complex issues regarding the sustainability of the global environment in the face of human development. The program integrates humanities, natural and social science, environmental policy and planning perspectives.

Environmental Science is the scientific study of the environment and the effects of humans on environmental systems. You will acquire knowledge from many academic disciplines including biology, chemistry, engineering, geology, economics, political science and physics.

What types of jobs could I get with a degree in Environmental Studies?

Our graduates are working all over Canada and in the world in vital roles for environmental and social change. They conduct fieldwork in resource, park and ecology management program, analysis and assessment in all levels of government, policy and legal decision making roles. For example, there are more than 318,000 environmental industry employers in Canada ranging from the government to IKEA. To learn more about what our graduates do, please visit our Alumni profiles page.

When can I start the BES program?

We accept applications for Fall, Winter and Summer. Full and part-time options are available. For more information, visit Admission Requirements.

What will my classes be like?

Lectures are the most common class type. Lectures are large classes and generally all the students in the course are addressed by the same professor. Lecture size ranges from 75-500 students. In our program, instructors may host lectures outside for hands-on learning. Many classes include a lecture and a tutorial and/or lab.

Tutorials are led by a tutorial leader who is a graduate student. The average class size is anywhere from 15-30 students. Concepts covered in lecture are explained in more detail and this setting provides the best opportunity for you to get clarification and to have your questions answered.

Labs are structured to do “lab work” and involve more practical learning. The lab setting could involve using geographic mapping software in a computer lab, or conducting science experiments in a traditional lab setting. Sometimes, a lab can mean a specific time slot for field trips. Most often, labs are smaller in size, with approximately 20-40 students.

What courses do I take?

The following is a list of core courses students take in their first year:

ENVS 1000 – Earth in our hands: Introduction to Environmental Studies

This course will give you a broad understanding of environmental studies, viewing the fate of the Earth as “in our hands". Learn how to live more sustainably, and to better understand how our actions impact the world.

ENVS 1200 – Taking action: engaging people and the environment

In small groups, discover how to identify, research and act on environmental and social justice issues. Connect with organizations addressing the issues, and get involved by taking action!

* ENVS 1500 – Introduction to Environmental Science: the web of life

In studying the environment, scientific questions will come up. This course prepares you to find the answers. No scientific background is required.

*ENVS 1800 – Environmental writing

To effect change, you need to communicate well. This course provides the tools you need to create environmental action through your writing.

Free elective of your choice

Some say variety is the spice of life. Your degree offers added room to grow, with time available for classes outside of environmental studies.

* More options may be available in place of these courses. Your academic adviser will help find the best fit for you.

How many transfer credits will I receive?

If you are transferring from an accredited college or university you may be eligible for transfer credit. All transfer credit decisions are made on an individual basis only after you have been admitted and accept our offer of admission. You will find out how much transfer credit you are eligible to receive at your enrolment appointment. To learn more, visit York’s transfer credit policies.

What other program options can I pursue with the BES degree?

In addition to taking courses in the BES program, you have the opportunity to specialize in a specific subject or combination of subjects. Our customizable degree program allows you to join two of your interests into one program, and also provides you with 5 different certificate options and 4 different dual credential programs to specialize in your specific professional goals. For program options and requirements, please refer to the BES Handbook.

Do you offer co-op or internship?

We offer a unique Summer Placement program for third-year students. This program is designed to provide students with the opportunity to apply their classroom learning in a workplace environment and also count towards their degree. Our Environmental Career experts assist students with finding internships and jobs in the sector. Detailed information on the course description and eligibility requirements can be found in the BES Handbook.

What is the BES Dual Credential Programs?

The Dual Credential programs offer students the opportunity to receive a combined university degree and a college diploma in less time. Participating colleges include the following:

York-Humber College: International Development

York-Seneca College: Urban Sustainability

York-Fleming College: Ecosystem Management Technology

Further information regarding the Dual Credential programs and eligibility requirements can be found in the BES Handbook.

What is the difference between Urban and Regional Environments in BES and an Urban Studies program?

Like all of our specializations in the Faculty of Environmental Studies, the area of concentration ‘Urban and Regional Environments’ approaches its subject matter from a systemic, holistic and critical perspective. Specifically, with regards to similar programs such as urban studies or human geography, this area of concentration in our BES program subjects matters of urbanization to a view that involves an urban political ecological (UPE) approach. This involves looking at ‘urbanization’, the process of building and rebuilding cities, and ‘urbanism’, urban ways of life, through the lens of socio-natural metabolisms, streams of matter, information and energy (water, oil, money, food, etc.) that connect the physical and the social worlds and flow through cities and establish urban life as we know it. Students learn how such flows are enabled through technical and social infrastructures and are governed by political institutions and planning agencies. Our program offers both a local and global perspective with a focus on the aboriginal land on where our cities grew as much as the globalized networks of distant connections that establish urban worlds today. Home to an ongoing research program on global suburban studies, FES provides a view of today’s metropolitan areas “from the outside in” by recognizing that most people in Canada and abroad live in new and emerging suburban forms and experience suburban ways of life in this 21st “urban century”. In contrast to a traditional urban studies approach, the BES program situates urban development in the context of climate change challenges and the demands of living in the age of the Anthropocene. Sustainability and resilience are major topics.