Environmental Sustainability

Duration: 4 years

Delivery: Full-time

Credential: Ontario University Honours Bachelor Degree, Ontario College Diploma

Location: Years one and two – Georgian Barrie Campus; Years three and four – Lakehead Orillia Campus


Become an informed, environmentally conscious and responsible citizen with excellent communication skills and problem-solving abilities through this joint degree-diploma program. As a Lakehead-Georgian graduate, you’ll be prepared to meet the growing demands of interdisciplinary practitioners in the diverse fields of science and sustainability.

Career opportunities

  • biological/lab technician
  • ecologist
  • environmental analyst/consultant
  • chemist
  • environmental educator
  • engineer
  • microbiologist
  • research associate/specialist
  • sustainability specialist

Admission requirements

Program-specific requirements for Ontario high school students: Grade 12 U English, one credit in Grade 12 U Math and four additional Grade 12 U or M credits.

Program courses

ENSU 1033 Introduction to Environmental Sustainability

An introduction to Environmental Sustainability. Students will apply interdisciplinary strategies to address, in a collaborative setting, complex problems with respect to environmental issues, such as pollution, waste management, and energy efficiency. Special consideration will be given to Aboriginal cultural and ethical perspectives with respect to the land.


BIOL 1130 Plant Biology

An introduction to plant diversity stressing the evolution of plants. Comparative morphology of vegetative and reproductive structures will be emphasized. Topics will also include functional anatomy, photosynthesis and respiration.


MATH 0210 Quantitative Methods for the Social Scientist

An introduction to probability; random variables; discrete distributions. Analysis of data: measures of dispersion and location; normal, t, chi-square and f tests, contingency tables, analysis of variance; linear regression and correlation.


NRMT 1011 Canadian Forest Plant Species

An introduction to the identification of trees of Canada including important introduced species. Lab instruction builds upon field school experience and emphasizes identification, classification, site requirements and uses of important species. Lecture instruction emphasizes relevant conifer and hardwood morphology, taxonomy, Canadian forest vegetation and elementary ecological concepts. Scientific names and terminology are used in lectures, laboratory work and examinations. Each student is required to complete a plant collection and to pass an outdoor tree identification test.


COMP 1059 Computer Technology for Environmental Applications

Effective computer technology skills are essential for student success. In this laboratory course, students engage with hands-on applications of the computer technology that is standard in the environmental industry. Ongoing file and data management is emphasized as a key skill in student learning.

ENSU 2033 Inquiry into Environmental Methods

Students will be introduced to theoretical and practical aspects of tools and techniques used in environmental research. Themes include Quality Assurance and Quality Control (QA/QC) procedures and certifications, Geographical Information Systems, basic scientific methods, and tools and techniques used in quantitative as well as qualitative research in the environmental field.

Prerequisite(s): ENSU 1033


ENSU 2111 Environmental Thought and Policy

Students will examine both applied and practical environmental philosophy in the study of human-environment interactions. Various principles and policies for analyzing assumptions, methods and environmental movements such as ecofeminism, bioregionalism and environmental pragmatism, will be studied.


BIOL 1110 Animal Biology

An introduction to the study of the structure, function and organization of animal life. Discussion of the evolution and classification of major invertebrate and vertebrate animal phyla, animal body plans and reproductive strategies.


GEOL 1130 Crust of the Earth

Emphasis is placed on the Earth’s crust especially on near-surface processes and their products. The principles of stratigraphy, significance of fossils, variety of depositional environments and hydrogeology are some topics that will be presented. Discussion of geology and the environment will include geological resources, energy consumption and changes to the natural environment caused by human activity.


ENVR 1005 Workplace Safety and Employment Readiness

Health and safety along with employment readiness is a necessity for all students entering the workforce. This course provides an overview of current legislation and standards pertaining to environmental health and safety and the process of preparing students for entry into the workplace. Historical perspective, health and safety management systems, hazardous materials management, WHMIS, biological, physical and chemical hazards, environmental monitoring devices, confined space entry, personal protective equipment, and emergency response. Personal workplace development will also be examined.


MATH 1018 Intro to Technical Math

This course provides a foundation in mathematics in technology programs. Students develop skills in mathematical thinking and problem solving, and appropriately apply technology in the solution of problems using algebra, geometry, right angle trigonometry, trigonometric functions of any angle, systems of linear equations, and the graphs of the primary trigonometric functions.

BIOL 2210 Introductory Geology

Interrelationships of plants and animals with the environment. The distribution and dynamics of plant and animal communities. Aspects of applied ecology and conservation.


CHEM 1003 Introduction to Applied Chemistry

Students examine the fundamentals of chemistry such as atomic structure, properties and nomenclature of compounds, chemical bonding, and reactions. Problem solving skills are employed while investigating stoichiometry concepts including moles, solutions and gases. Related laboratory experiments are performed.


ENVR 1007 Water Treatment

This course provides an introduction to the study of water treatment processes and distribution. The physical, chemical and biological characteristics of source water will be examined along with current regulations, methods of treatment and issues surrounding the provision of potable water. Students will participate in the evaluation of common physical, chemical and bacteriological testing. The content of the Ontario Ministry of the Environment (MOE) Entry Level Drinking Water Operator course will be covered.


ENVR 2014 Environmental Management Systems and Audits

This course is a study of the current practices and policies pertaining to the development, implementation and maintenance of environmental management systems (EMS) in an organization. ISO standards will be examined and case studies will be used to highlight the key factors involved with EMS implementation. The process of assessing environmental impacts and aspects and implementing continuous improvement measures will be addressed. Comparable health and safety management systems will be examined to reinforce management system concepts.


ENVR 2017 Soil Properties

This experiential course builds on the foundational principles of soil science by introducing students to field sampling and the laboratory analysis of soils. Students learn sampling methodologies and descriptive techniques, sample preparation, analytical methods and instrumentation for various chemical, physical and biological soil parameters; as well as data analysis and reporting. Emphasis is placed on developing field, laboratory and technical communication skills.


SURV 2002 Environmental Surveying

This course is an introduction to survey concepts, measurements, computations and automated surveying. It covers the required mathematical concepts, the theory and operation of survey instruments, the measurement of distances and angles, leveling and all associated calculations. Emphasis will be placed on field surveying where students will learn to capture electronic field data and utilize that information for environmental applications.

Prerequisite(s): MATH 1018

GEOG 2232 Introduction to Geomatics and GIS

An introduction to the fundamental principles and techniques that comprise the field of geomatics, especially Geographic Information Systems (GIS). Topics include the collection and visualization of geographical data through various means, database construction and manipulation, and exposure to analog and digital spatial technologies, such as GPS, surveying and digital aerial photography.


CHEM 2002 Applied Organic Chemistry

In this course, students learn the basics of organic chemistry with emphasis on real world uses and applications. Students examine the structures, properties and nomenclature of classes of organic compounds as well as carbon bonding of compounds. Relevant organic chemistry reactions are introduced and related laboratory experiments are performed.

Prerequisite(s): CHEM 1003


ENVR 2004 Waste Management Strategies

This is course is a study of the complexities associated with waste management and environmental effects; relevant legislative requirements; integrated waste management strategies; disposal and diversion methods and site selection; site closure and post-operational uses. This course will have both a classroom component where solid waste management issues and practices will be learned and a non-classroom component where students will apply these practices in real-life situations.


ENVR 2018 Environmental Assessment and Contaminants in the Environment

This course examines the nature and behaviour of environmental contaminants and practices used in the protection and conservation of water and land. Students will review environmental assessment legislation and use case studies to illustrate ecological complexity while developing skills to assess and mitigate the impacts of various projects. Students will prepare environmental assessment reports based on field investigations. Site remediation techniques and Record of Site Condition requirements are also examined.

Prerequisite(s): CHEM 1003


ENVR 2019 Environmental CAD

This course introduces students to reading and interpreting engineering drawings and using the computer as a drafting tool. Students will prepare and interpret environmental land survey and civil engineering drawings. Emphasis will be placed on contours, plan and profile, cross-section and determining earthwork quantities, topographical survey and structures as it relates to environmental engineering. Specific CAD techniques and procedures will be applied to the creation of these drawings.

Prerequisite(s): COMP 1059


ENVR 2020 Wastewater Treatment

This course provides theory related to the conceptual design and operation of a variety of wastewater treatment processes with an emphasis on fundamental principles. The course covers physical, chemical, and biological processes as well as sludge processing. In addition, discussions of engineered and natural processes for wastewater treatment are examined. Students also examine the testing required for performance evaluation of a variety of wastewater treatment processes.


LAWS 2010 Environmental Law and Policy

The course is designed to develop working knowledge of statutory and common law practices that apply to the environment. Students will have an opportunity to apply this knowledge to case studies to illustrate how environmental law applies in real situations. The course incorporates on-line use of current Acts, Regulations and Guidelines and students will become familiar with Municipal, Provincial and Federal environmental law including duty, breach and liability.

ECON 2212 Environmental Economics

An examination of the linkage between economic activity and the environment. Topics include the valuation of environmental amenities, market failure, optimal pollution levels, incentive compatible regulation including pollution permit trading and a comparison of policy in Canada and other countries.

ENSU 3013 Field School in Environmental Sustainability

Students will participate in a five to seven-day excursion, or a series of day excursions, to examine ecological, socio-economic and cultural characteristics of the environment. Sites visited will vary depending on the central theme chosen for the course. The field component is followed by a classroom component involving identification and assessment of concepts, and issues, arising from the field excursion, oral presentations and discussions, and the submission of a research essay.

Prerequisite(s): ENSU 2033


ENSU 3033 Aquatic Resources Planning and Management

Students will investigate biological, chemical and physical aspects of aquatic resources and human control systems. Emphasis will be placed on complex management challenges, derived from the interaction between the water cycle and human control agencies. Major themes include water supply, water quality, hydropower, flood control, and Aboriginal issues with respect to water resources. Each theme will be examined across a range of scales, technologies, and communities.

Prerequisite(s): ENSU 1033


ENSU 3053 Inquiry into Environmental Conservation

Students will be introduced to environmental conservation concepts, theories, issues and strategies. Major themes will include environmental law, management, and Aboriginal-government relations. Lectures will discuss historical (including traditional Aboriginal perspectives), conceptual, empirical, and experimental approaches to environmental conservation. Oral presentations, written reports and investigative assignments will include case studies as well as the practical application of conservation principles.

Prerequisite(s): ENSU 2033


BIOL 2711 Biology of Microorganisms

An introduction to microbial cell biology, genetics and interactions between microorganisms and humans. Laboratory work includes basic microbiological techniques and identification of microorganisms.


NRMT 2054 Indigenous Peoples and Natural Resources

An overview of Indigenous Peoples and natural resources, with an emphasis on Indigenous participation in forest management. Topics include: historical and modern-day treaties and their impacts on natural resources development and management; what it means to incorporate Aboriginal and treaty rights in natural resources development and management; Indigenous Peoples’ relationship to forest land and resources; natural resources policy developments and practices related to Indigenous issues at international, national, regional and local levels; and Indigenous Peoples’ relationships with provincial and federal governments and stakeholder groups such as environmental non-governmental organizations, natural resources industries and forest dependent communities.


GEOG 2331 Climatology

An examination of atmosphere processes, weather phenomena, macroclimates, microclimates and the nature of climatic change. Laboratory work will include the analysis of meteorological and climatological data and the study of weather maps.


GEOG 2351 Geomorphology

An examination of terrestrial and marine geomorphological processes, and the effects of structure, time and climatic change on the development of landforms. Laboratory work will include the analysis of landforms from maps and aerial photographs.


ENSU 3073 Environmental Biotechnology

Students will investigate current technical, cultural, and ethical issues in environmental biotechnology, including plant biotechnology and genetically modified foods, mammalian cloning, reproductive technologies, gene therapies, drug development and approval processes, implications of cloning to biodiversity and lateral gene flow, and bioremediation using genetically modified organisms.

Prerequisite(s): BIOL 1130 or BIOL 2711


ENSU 3113 Biomonitoring of Environment

An in-depth investigation of definitions, concepts, principles and strategies of biomonitoring of the environment. Topics covered include Environmental Specimen Banking (ESB) and the Multi-Markered Bioindication Concept (MMBC), and their role in prophylactic health care.


GEOG 3471 Environmental Assessment and Management

An examination of the basic principles of biophysical and socio-economic impact assessment and how these are integrated into environmental management policies. Particular attention will be paid to environmental management systems.


ENSU 3111 Energy and the Environment

Students will examine the interconversion and utilization of energy, traditional and alternative sources, consumption and waste of energy in the industrial society, energy intensity of food production, strategies and technologies for energy efficient construction, impacts on environmental quality and human health.

ENSU 4013 Field School in Environmental Sustainability

Students are required to complete a minimum of three weeks field program. The normal time for this course is during August. Location of the project areas may vary from year to year, but, generally regions adjacent to Orillia will be visited. The students will be exposed to a variety of field techniques in interdisciplinary (e.g. biological, geographical and geological) settings and will be required to formalize field observations in reports.

Prerequisite(s): ENSU 3013


BIOL 3610 Environmental Biology

The impact of environmental degradation on organisms and the earth is studied through an in-depth examination of human population growth, renewable resource depletion and pollution. Particular attention will be given to specific crises in agriculture, forestry and wildlife management. Causes and prevention of these renewable resource problems are discussed.


BIOL 3151 Biogeography

A study of the distribution and dispersal of organisms. An examination of how biotic and abiotic factors interact and species distributions respond to dynamic environmental processes such as climate and glaciation. Topics covered include: history of biogeography, distribution of species, communities, and biomes; speciation and extinction, endemism, dispersal, history of lineages and biotas, patterns of continental and oceanic diversity, island biogeography, and human impacts on species distribution.


BIOL 4711 Applied and Environmental Microbiology

A fundamental knowledge of the role of micro-organisms in global nutrient cycles, interrelationships within and between microbial communities and environmental factors affecting microbial structure and function. Microbiological aspects of terrestrial and aquatic environments and selective topics on biotechnology will be discussed. Both traditional and molecular analysis for microbial communities will be introduced.


ENSU 4010 Seminar in Environmental Sustainability

Students will employ research strategies used in various disciplines to explore complex topics. A proposal for a focused, multi-and/or interdisciplinary research project in the field of Environmental Sustainability will be developed.

Prerequisite(s): ENSU 2033


ENSU 4033 Research in Environmental Sustainability

Students will carry out the research project approved by the instructor in Environmental Sustainability 4010. Students enrolled in the Environmental Sustainability program are required to select their research proposal appropriately in consultation with the Department. Various research clusters will be identified such as Land Management, Water Resources Management, Urbanization, Aboriginal Environmental Concerns, Traditional Ecological Knowledge Systems, Environmental Manipulation, Conservation Biology, Energy, Biodiversity. A written report and oral presentation will be required.


ENSU 4901 Honours Thesis in Environmental Sustainability

Each student will design and complete an advanced independent research-based thesis on a selected topic in Environmental Sustainability. Students must verify which Sustainability Sciences faculty member will supervise the research before completing the third year of study. The thesis topic must be approved by the supervisor no later than the second week of September. The student will prepare a written thesis and present a Sustainability Sciences Department seminar.


ENSU 4110 Freshwater Ecology

The ecological, biological and physical properties of various freshwater ecosystems are examined. Field component involves collection of water and sediment samples from lakes and rivers and their biological and chemical characteristics in the lab. Field sampling will include aquatic weeds and benthic sample collections and their analyses in the laboratory.

Prerequisite(s): BIOL 2210


ENSU 4111 Materials, Manufacturing and Waste

Sustainable manufacturing and waste management are examined throughout the course content. Refining, extraction and production methods of materials are examined, with a focus on the associated long-term implications of the energy required and waste created. The properties of materials will be explored, especially as they define the end of materials’ usable lifespan and impact waste management.


GEOG 4211 Advanced GIS and Spatial Analysis

An advanced course in the applications of geographic information systems, spatial analysis, and the display of spatial data. Practical exercises will provide hands-on experience using GIS software. Specific applications covered depend upon the expertise of the instructor.

Prerequisite(s): GEOG 2232


BIOL 4115 Plant Ecology of Disturbed Habitats

Habitat and plant community response to natural and human induced ecosystem disturbances will be discussed with special reference to type, intensity and frequency of disturbance. Particular attention will be focused on regeneration strategies of dominant plants, species diversity and composition, nearground microclimate, and changes in soil physical and chemical properties. Vulnerability and resilience of ecosystem integrity will be explained on the basis of biotic and abiotic factors with special reference to boreal forests. Remediation of adverse ecological impacts resulting from human induced disturbances will be discussed. Technical writing based on field and laboratory studies, term papers, and seminar presentations are required components of the course.


NRMT 3135 Restoration Ecology

An introduction to the theory and practice of restoration ecology. The major topics covered in this course include: the integration of ecological theory and restoration, challenges and methods of restoring populations and communities, restoration of ecological functions, and statistical issues and study design in ecological restoration.