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

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

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

Scheme C is designed to be completed in 12 months (3 terms). Students who complete these requirements will earn the designation of Master of Sustainability.

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

An overview of the concepts of sustainability, 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. The course includes lectures, experiential education, discussion panels, and debates.

SSAS 5P02 – METHODS FOR ENVIRONMENTAL INQUIRY

Current research approaches and methods, concepts, and forms of inquiry used by transdisciplinary researchers interested in environmental sustainability. The different ways that issues related to sustainability and the environment are examined and discussed using qualitative and quantitative tools.

SSAS 5P03 – PROBLEM SOLVING IN THE ENVIRONMENT

Contemporary applied approaches to sustainability issues across spatial and temporal scales. Case studies, project management, and experiential problem solving.

SSAS 5P04 – TRANSDISCIPLINARY SEMINAR

Students present their research to peers, academics, and professionals, participate in scholarly exchanges with visiting and guest academics, and engage with professionals within the sustainability field. Note: This course will be evaluated as credit/no-credit.

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

The values associated with water resources, its management, and decision-making processes. International and Canadian case studies to explore innovations in water science from social and biophysical perspectives.

SSAS 5P12 – CLIMATE CHANGE ADAPTATION AND TRANSFORMATION

Aspects of climate change from multiple perspectives including climate change scenarios and projections, adaptation, resilience in climate change and steps towards transformations. Special focus will be devoted to the theoretical and applied aspects of climate change adaptation and planning.

SSAS 5P13 – LANDSCAPE ECOLOGY AND ECOSYSTEM MANAGEMENT

The drivers and consequences of global changes on the ecology of species at a range of spatial scales using geospatial technologies (e.g., GIS and RS) and spatial data analyses. Topics include spatial ecology, disturbance ecology, conservation, restoration, management principles, 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. Note: Completion of this course will replace previous assigned grade and credit obtained in BIOL 5P02.

SSAS 5P80 – DIRECTED STUDY

Specialized study in sustainability science on an individual basis, under the direction of a faculty member to examine a significant topic in a student’s area of concentration.

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

A topic in sustainability science and society that will vary by instructor.

SSAS Co-op Courses

SSAS 5N90 – CO-OP Professional Preparation Course

The primary goal of this course, offered through the Co-op, Career and Experiential Education Office, is to provide graduate students with the tools, resources and skills to maximize co-op employment and professional development opportunities – both while at Brock and after graduation. This course is a pre-requisite for any co-op students who wish to participate in co-op job search and grade will be evaluated based on class participation including attendance and completion of professional projects.

SSAS 5N01 – WORK PLACEMENT I

Co-op work term (four months) with an approved employer providing a work integrated learning experience related to the student’s chosen area of concentration. The co-op employment is full time with 35 to 40 hours per week for 12 to 16 weeks. Students are required to meet all the work term deliverables successfully (learning objective, work site visit, work term report and work term evaluation) and fulfill their employment contract to receive a “Satisfactory” grade for the work term.

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). 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.

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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 Graduate Programs in the ESRC, including the Sustainability Science and Society Masters Program and the Sustainability Science PhD Program are 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 ESRC Graduate Programs, including Rules of Procedure, visit our Graduate Programs Governance Webpage.