About the Master of Sustainability

Our program aims to facilitate society’s transition towards sustainability by offering high-quality graduate education, enriching research and applied experiences, and engagement in problem-solving through innovative pedagogy.

Degree Requirements

Students can tailor the SSAS program to specific career and research interests through enriching classroom learning with practical experience or intensive research experience.

Students in Scheme A will complete the following components to earn their degree:

  • 2 terms of in-class work
  • 1 term of co-op placement
  • 1 term of writing a Major Research Paper

Scheme A is designed to be completed in 16 months (4 terms). Students who complete these requirements will earn the designation of Master of Sustainability, Co-op.

For information about specific course requirements and degree structuring, visit the Brock University Graduate Calendar.

Students in Scheme B will complete the following components to earn their degree:

  • 2 terms of in-class work
  • 4 terms of writing a Thesis

Scheme B is designed to be completed in 24 months (6 terms). Students who complete these requirements will earn the designation of Master of Sustainability.

For information about specific course requirements and degree structuring, visit the Brock University Graduate Calendar

Courses

Each year the ESRC offers graduate level courses to students in the SSAS program, and students in other graduate programs at Brock. Please note that not all courses are offered every year. For a full list of current graduate course offerings, visit the Brock Graduate Registration Guide.

SSAS Core Courses

SSAS 5P01 – FOUNDATIONS OF SUSTAINABILITY SCIENCE AND SOCIETY

This course provides students with an overview of the concepts of sustainability by exploring the interactions between natural and social systems and how those interactions affect how societies can meet their current and future needs while protecting the environment. It is expected that the concepts behind specific global actions will be examined through the UNESCO Biosphere Reserve concept. The course will include not only lectures but also discussion panels and debates.

SSAS 5P02 – METHODS FOR ENVIRONMENTAL INQUIRY

Students are introduced to the current research methods, concepts, and forms of inquiry used by transdisciplinary researchers interested in environmental sustainability. The aim is to expose students to the different ways that issues related to sustainability and the environment are framed, examined, and discussed using qualitative and quantitative tools.

SSAS 5P03 – PROBLEM SOLVING IN THE ENVIRONMENT

This course exposes students to contemporary applied approaches to address sustainability issues across a range of spatial and temporal scales. Students consider case studies, gain project management competencies, and engage in experiential problem solving.

SSAS 5P04 – TRANSDISCIPLINARY SEMINAR

The aim of this transdisciplinary seminar is to provide students with an opportunity to present their research to peers, academics and professionals. Students will actively share results of their research, participate in scholarly exchanges with visiting and guest academics and engage with professionals within the sustainability field.

SSAS Elective Courses

Elective courses are chosen from: those offered by ESRC and a maximum of one half-credit from a graduate course in another program. Please note a maximum of one-half credit course at the undergraduate level (above 3P90 with appropriate revision for graduate credit). SSAS elective courses will be rotated, with at least two being offered by ESRC annually.

SSAS 5P11 – WATER RESOURCE ECONOMICS, MANAGEMENT, AND GOVERNANCE

Students investigate the values associated with water resources, its management, and associated decision-making processes. International and Canadian case studies are used to explore concepts such as total economic valuation, integrated water resource management, water vulnerability, and adaptive water governance.

SSAS 5P12 – CLIMATE CHANGE ADAPTATION AND TRANSFORMATION

Climate change represents a complex issue that affects natural and managed ecosystems from the global to the local. This course introduces students to the various aspects of climate change from multiple perspectives including but not limited to climate change scenarios and projections, mitigation and adaptation, the concept of resilience in climate change and the steps towards transformations. The topics will integrate concepts from biology, climatology, sociology, economics, and political science.

SSAS 5P13 – LANDSCAPE ECOLOGY AND ECOSYSTEM MANAGEMENT

This course examines the drivers and consequences of global changes on the ecology of species at a range of spatial scales and introduces the utilization of geospatial statistics (e.g., GIS and RS) analysis. Topics covered include spatial ecology, disturbance ecology, conservation, public policy and health.

SSAS/BIOL 5P22 – CURRENT TOPICS IN CONSERVATION ECOLOGY AND BIODIVERSITY

This course aims to explore and discuss current trends in this field using an interdisciplinary approach. Topics may include concepts related to conservation strategies, impacts of conservation efforts on ecosystems, communities or species populations, biodiversity assessment, invasive species, balance of conserving biodiversity versus ecosystem services, and issues related to policy, management, economic and social concerns.

SSAS/POLI 5P66 – POLITICS AND THE ENVIRONMENT

Examines the various linkages between politics and environmental outcomes. Political factors examined include democracy, federalism, bureaucracy, and the policy process.

SSAS 5P80 – DIRECTED STUDY

Specialised study in sustainability science on an individual basis, under the direction of an ESRC faculty member. These courses are used in special circumstances to examine a significant topic in their area of concentration.

SSAS 5V80-5V89 – SELECTED TOPICS IN SUSTAINABILITY SCIENCE AND SOCIETY

A topic in sustainability science and society.

SSAS Co-op Courses

SSAS 5N90 – CO-OP Professional Preparation Course

An in-depth series of workshops and interactions to prepare learners for co-op placements and career development. Topics include résumé writing, interview skills, diversity in the workplace, and the job posting process.

SSAS 5N01 – WORK PLACEMENT I

A four month work term placement that provides a unique learning experience directly related to the student’s chosen area of concentration. Students will work with an organisation (public or private sector) and placements will be organised through the Co-op Programs Office at Brock University.

SSAS Research Project Courses

SSAS 5F90 – THESIS

An in-depth research project involving the preparation and defense of a thesis which demonstrates capacity for sustained independent work and original research in sustainability science and society.

SSAS 5F91 – MAJOR RESEARCH PAPER

A substantive inquiry in sustainability science and society which demonstrates capacity for independent research and critical thinking.

There are also many other professional development (non-credit) opportunities for graduate students in the SSAS program who are interested in enhancing their professional skills while studying at Brock. These include:

Co-op

Students enrolled in Scheme A have the exciting opportunity to enhance their academic learning experience with a co-op placement. Brock’s Co-op Programs Office offers students a chance to gain career-related work experience, develop a network of contacts, and gain a better understanding of what it is like to work in the Environmental Sustainability field.

For more information on the Co-op Programs Office, please visit: https://brocku.ca/co-op. 

WHAT TYPES OF CO-OP OPPORTUNITIES ARE AVAILABLE TO SSAS STUDENTS?

Our students have secured co-op placements with a wide variety of employers. For specific positions, check out our current student and alumni profiles, but here are just a few other examples of positions:

  • Camp Director, Royal Botanical Gardens Discovery Camp
  • Research Assistant, Federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans, Charlottetown, PEI
  • Research Associate, Fisherwick Collaborations Inc.
  • Research Assistant, Great Lakes Issue Management and Reporting Section, Environment Canada
  • Jr. Communications Officer, Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada
  • Educator, Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup

Are you an employer looking to hire a SSAS Co-op Student?

Our Master of Sustainability students in Scheme A are required to do a co-op placement during the Spring/Summer term (May-August). Due to COVID-19, we are also looking for placements for the Fall 2020 term (September-December). If you are interested in learning more about how your organization could hire a SSAS co-op student, please visit the Prospective Employers webpage or connect with the Co-op Programs Office at 905-688-5550 ext. 4325 or co-op@brocku.ca.

Student Life

The City of St. Catharines — home to Brock University — is situated in the heart of the Niagara Region of Ontario, Canada.

With a population of approximately 130,000, St. Catharines is a friendly, mid-sized community that is within easy reach of major cities such as Toronto, Hamilton, Niagara Falls and Buffalo, New York. The local community offers a wealth of entertainment, recreational and cultural activities. St. Catharines provides Brock students with all the advantages of a prosperous urban centre located in a safe, inviting and affordable community.

Niagara has a strong public and private sector transportation infrastructure which includes bus and rail links to Toronto and Buffalo. Busing within the region includes links from the campus to surrounding communities, and a St. Catharines bus pass is included with each student’s registration package. On-campus parking is available with the purchase of a parking pass. Two international airports and two regional airports are within an hour’s drive.

This all comes together to make St. Catharines a wonderful and affordable place to live, work and study!

The Master of Sustainability program at Brock University is governed by a Graduate Program Committee, administered by a Graduate Program Director, and supported by a Coordinator. For detailed information about the governance of the SSAS program, including Rules of Procedure, visit our SSAS Governance Webpage