SUST Courses

For full SUST course availability, please check the Academic Timetable.

Intensive tutorials, distinguished guest lecturers and speakers share their progressive thinking and insights to complement classroom learning. In the third year, ESS students begin to immerse themselves in hands-on work that matters — on campus, in the community or the boardroom, alongside citizens, NGOs and others.

First-Year Courses

SUST 1000.06 - What is Sustainability? (Fall term)

Learning to live sustainably is humanity’s greatest and most exciting challenge. The first step is seeing ourselvesour histories, perceptions, intentions and impactsclearly among the untold elements of life on the planet of which humans are a part.

SUST 1000 offers a new way of learning via a new way of teaching—professors from completely different backgrounds and disciplines co-teach the class. This is exactly the approach we need to move toward a sustainable society: different perspectives and different resources in a conversation with each other. That's what interdisciplinary learning is all about: bringing your particular interests and talents to the table, and sharing them with others.

As a student in SUST 1000, you will learn about themes and approaches from across faculties and disciplines – including history, design, indigenous knowledge and lifeways, economics and biology – that have informed and continue to shape our understanding of humans’ shifting roles in the world. Through topics such as energy, water, climate change, land use, food, urbanization and social equity, students and instructors together explore what sustainability means in their lives and to the planet.

In addition to the flow of issues in class and weekly tutorials, every Thursday evening SUST 1000 students participate in a lecture and film series that is open to the public. This way our journey of discovery connects and is shared with the world outside the university.

SUST 1000 satisfies the University Writing Requirement. It is a double-weight course (6 credit hours) in fall term. Prerequisites: None.

Instructors: Steven Mannell and Will Langford

SUST 1001.06 - A Sustainable Future (Winter term)

SUST 1001 examines pathways that humanity can take towards living in a sustainable world. Drawing from diverse perspectives and applying a sustainability lens, you’ll look at some of the different ways humans make a living around the world and the impacts of those activities, focusing on the technology, social organization, and ideology of the people involved. Through critical examination of past assumptions, we explore and propose solutions for the problems facing humanity and our ecosystems.

SUST 1001 offers a new way of learning via a new way of teaching—professors from completely different backgrounds and disciplines co-teach the class. But that’s exactly what we need to move toward a sustainable society: different perspectives and different resources in a conversation with each other. That's what interdisciplinary learning is all about: bringing your particular interests and talents to the table, and sharing them with others.

As a student in SUST 1001, you will learn about tools and methods for creative problem-solving around issues of sustainability and the importance of scientific literacy. As a community of learners, each participant in the class has experience and knowledge to share.

In addition to the flow of issues in class and weekly tutorials, every Thursday evening SUST 1001 students participate in a lecture and film series that is open to the public. This way our journey of discovery connects and is shared with the world outside the university.

SUST 1001 is a double-weight (6 credit hours) course in winter term. SUST 1000 is not a prerequisite for SUST 1001. Prerequisites: None.

Instructor: San Patten

SUST 1400.03 - Exploring Sustainability (Online, Winter and Summer terms)

This online course explores ideas of sustainability using many, sometimes conflicting, perspectives and frameworks. Academics, change-makers in the community, politicians, farmers, and non-profit leaders share their stories with us. We explore the three pillars of sustainability and hear from individuals in Halifax and beyond.

NOTES: Online course with lecture videos, readings, discussion board, quizzes, hands-on assignment and written assignments.

SUST 1400.03 and SUST 1000.06 are EXCLUSIONS - credit will not granted for both courses.

Instructor:  Will Langford (Winter 2020)


Second-Year Courses

SUST 2000.06 - Local Governance, Citizen Engagement and Sustainability (Fall term)

People make decisions that influence the ways the world changes and the ways in which it stays the same.  This course is about people—the actors—and their actions. We will focus on how the actions of people in natural and built environments affect the natural world. We will explore the roles and actions of individuals as consumers, activists, and members of families and societies.

We will also explore the roles of groups of people who are employed by government departments, regulatory bodies, legal systems, corporations, non-governmental organizations and those who voluntarily participate in sustainability efforts as members of local, community, and special-interest groups.  The course uses a Problem Based Learning (PBL) approach to help us to think critically as we explore the connections between people, their actions, and the complex issues associated with environmental and social sustainability.

SUST 2000 is a double-weight (6 credit hours) course in fall term. Prerequisites: Any 1000-level SUST course

Instructors: Georgia Klein and Melanie Zurba

SUST 2001.06 - Global Environmental Governance (Winter term)

This class explores the global politics, governance and economics, as it relates to issues of social and environmental sustainability. Students are introduced to the international relations and economics that underpin the processes of negotiations around global environmental governance. Our aim is to provide discussions and suggestions for how we can move forward to a more ecologically sustainable and socially just future.

SUST 2001 focuses on six interconnected modules of that help frame the global system, as it relates to environmental issues: International Relations, International Political Economy, Global Markets and Finance, Resource Governance, International Law, and a simulated International Environmental Negotiation. As a result the class takes an interdisciplinary social science approach to understanding competing approaches, issues, and perspectives to Global Environmental Governance.

As noted, towards the end of the class, students will have the opportunity to participate as stakeholders in a simulated negotiation of an international environmental convention. This exercise will give students a unique and experiential perspective on the challenges and compromises of international environmental governance.

SUST 2001 is a double-weight (6 credit hours) course in winter term.
Prerequisites: Any 1000-level SUST course

SUST 2001 is an IDS-approved course.

Instructor: Andrew Bergel

SUST 2105.03 - Introductory Conflict Management for Sustainability (Winter term)

Arriving at decisions and consensus can be easy when we are communicating with people with similar values, interests, and needs – but conflict can arise when we find ourselves in conversations with individuals who do not see the situation as we do. In the context of sustainability, working towards sustainability-related goals requires collaboration between multiple stakeholders, disciplines, and fields – which inevitably leads to situations in which disagreement is present. It is therefore unsurprising that one of the most often cited skillsets needed by sustainability professionals is “the ability to enable, facilitate, and motivate collaborative and participatory sustainability learning, thinking, and action” (Evans, 2020). Sustainability, at its heart, is “a conflict-generating vision” (Grunwald, 2011, para. 2). You can know all you know and more, but if you cannot communicate it effectively, what is the value and impact of that knowledge?

Given the importance of these skills in the field of sustainability, the goal of this course is to provide a learning environment in which students can actively explore how to better navigate interpersonal conflict in order to positively and collectively shift towards sustainable decisions and collaborations. The course will draw upon multiple models and techniques to help transform conflicts from places of possible stress, frustration, and anger, to opportunities of transformation and greater understanding. Class time is divided between (a) in-class discussion and activity-based sessions to allow you time to put these skills into practice, and (b) ongoing reflection, activities, and assessments to reinforce the skills we cover in class.

Note: For students interested in the topic more broadly, the individual and small group focus of 2105.03 provides a helpful compliment to SUST 4125.03, Conflict Negotiation & Sustainability, which focuses on local and global conflicts and includes team-based simulated negotiations, though both courses can be taken independently of one another.

Pre-requisites: Second-year status or above

Instructor: Laurel Schut

SUST 2106.03 - Climate Change and Sustainability (Fall term)

This course introduces quantitative methods for understanding our environment and calculating change. Our natural environment is influenced by multiple natural and anthropogenic factors that can influence the trajectory of our ecosystems through time. Fundamentally, we must understand the past such that we can compare and understand the current context of global warming into perspective. This course focuses on the quantitative science behind understanding the Quaternary period, which represents the last 2.6 million years of the earth’s history. Topics will include the physical basis of climate change as well as the human activities that have influenced this change. A focus on research methods, including quantitative analysis of data, will enable students to understand how we know what we do about our past, and what it means for our future.  

Pre-requisite: Second-year status and above.

Instructor: Andrew Medeiros


Third-Year Courses

SUST 3000.03 - Environmental Decision-Making (Fall term)

Individual and collective choices for a sustainable future require decisions that account for uncertainty and complexity. Both of these are inherent to human development that is sensitive to ecological constraints along with competing human values. Given this context, this course sets out to explore a number of key challenges that generally confound decision-making, along with a variety of decision support tools (e.g. geospatial analysis tools, cost benefit analysis, and life cycle assessment), that help us integrate diverse knowledge and values for, theoretically, better outcomes. Throughout the course we will draw on resource and environment related examples and contexts, while considering the implications of disconnecting development decision-making from sustainability.

SUST 3000 is 3 credit hours in fall term. Prerequisites: 3rd year status or permission of instructor.

Instructors: Andrew Medeiros and Laurel Schut

SUST 3002.03 - ESS Engagement Project (Fall, Winter and Summer terms)


SUST 3002 is an experiential learning class which provides students with a hands-on engagement experience to pursue questions of personal and academic interest relevant to the field. In this course, students work on a specific project at an approved community partner, for approximately six to eight hours per week over a 10-12-week period (60-80 hours).

Note: Summer projects may be completed in fewer weeks as a full-time project over fewer weeks. Students wishing to graduate at Fall convocation must consult with the Course Instructor before starting to arrange a summer Engagement Project.

Students interested in an ESS Engagement Project must contact the College of Sustainability's Course Instructor or the Manager of Outreach and Partnerships with their proposal before the start of the term in which the placement is to occur. If the student has not made contact with a community partner organization, the Course Instructor will assist in matching the student's skills and interests with a community partner organization.

These contacts must be made before the term begins in order to ensure that the student and placement organization both understand the nature of the expectations of the engagement project and have reached agreement on the work to be undertaken.  

Note: Arrangements should ideally be made for Fall semester by September 1, December 1 for Winter semester and May 1 for Summer term, although this is flexible.

The Engagement Project is guided by the College's Course Instructor and Manager of Outreach and Partnerships, and evaluated by a supervisor at the community partner and a Dalhousie faculty advisor. Students will be asked to maintain a project journal, prepare an 8- to 10-page paper reflecting on lessons learned during their internship experience and make an oral presentation to their peers.  

Complete the online application here.  

ONLY third and fourth year students who have declared ESS as one of their subjects in an undergraduate degree and who have maintained a 3.0 GPA are eligible to apply for an engagement project.

SUST 3002 Checklist

  • Review SUST 3002.03 documentation
  • Contact College of Sustainability Course Instructor, Peter Mushkat ( or Manager of Outreach and Partnerships (
  • Choose project placement with the assistance of the Course Instructor or Manager of Outreach and Partnerships
  • Contact organization/department/agency to finalize proposed project
  • Draft project proposal, finalize agreement, submit the online application to the College   

NB: Summer term engagement participants planning to graduate in the subsequent Fall convocation must consult with the Course Instructor before starting to arrange a summer Engagament Project.

  • Register for SUST 3002.03 once your application has been approved by the Instructor and you have been authorized to register.
Instructor: Peter Mushkat

SUST 3038.03 - Community-Engaged Research and Practice for Sustainability (Fall term, alternating with SUST 3039 in even years)

This course has been designed to enhance students' knowledge in the area of community-engaged research and practice relating to a variety of sustainability topics, including resource and environmental management. Following this course, students should feel as though they have the foundational knowledge in the ways that communities are involved in sustainability research and practice and how such involvement is guided by community values, aspirations and capacities. Students will also gain foundational knowledge on working with communities in a variety of research contexts (e.g., thesis work, organizational or government work engaging communities).

We will begin with an overview of the roles, values, identities and experiences of communities in sustainability research and practice, and will examine historical and ongoing wrongdoings (and the need for redress) associated with community-engaged research and practice. We will then explore the many different forms of community-engaged research and the different types of values associated with each type. The principles for best practices in community-engaged research, including participatory action research (PAR) and boundary work principles will be investigated.

Students will have opportunities to apply their emerging knowledge of such principles to assignments, including a final project that will ask them to design a research approach for working with a particular community. We will also learn about communities of practice and best practices for working with organizations that are community-based or act as bridges to communities. Equity, empowerment capacity-recognition and capacity-building will be considered. Special attention will be given to work with Indigenous communities. 

Instructor: Melanie Zurba

SUST 3039.03 - Indigenous Perspectives on Resource and Environmental Management (Fall term)

This course explores issues concerning Indigenous peoples’ relationships with natural resources and settler populations within a broad socio-politico-environmental context. We will review key Canadian and international laws and guiding frameworks affecting Indigenous participation and leadership in land and resource use, environmental management and planning. In developing an understanding of Indigenous peoples’ perspectives on resource and environmental management, direct engagement must be central to the process. Therefore, students will have the opportunity to learn directly from guest Elders and Indigenous leaders who are involved in resource and environment issues. Key readings in this course will also be by Indigenous scholars who are leading the way in shaping the discourse and approaches to Indigenous resource and environmental management. We will also consider approaches to collaboration and research that are developed by, with and for Indigenous communities

SUST 3039 is 3 credit hours in fall term. Prerequisites: 3rd year status or permission of instructor.

An auxiliary fee of $75 per student is charged to pay for class excursions.

Instructor: Melanie Zurba

SUST 3101.03 - Food Systems and Sustainability (Winter term)

On a planet of seven billion heading to 10+ billion people, how we choose to feed ourselves now and in the future has profound implications for both human and non-human life and ultimately, the stability of life support systems upon which modern human societies depend. Consequently, it is critical that we not only find ways to improve the sustainability of food provisioning activities across sectors and sub-systems moving forward, but that we accelerate uptake of lower impact options now. This course sets out to provide a context within which to think about food systems and their sustainability, while examining a wide range of contemporary food production platforms and concerns.

Prerequisites: Third year status or permission of instructor.

Exclusion: Students who have completed SUST 3950 may not get credit for SUST 3101.

Instructor: Laurel Schut

SUST 3102.03 - Coastal Change and Adaptation (Summer, online. Will not be offered in Winter 2024.)

Human activities alter coastal environments directly and by influencing natural processes. We analyse the drivers of change and impacts on environment, economy and society. Mitigation and management strategies for sustainable adaptation are investigated. Lectures are integrated with student presentations, guest lectures and discussion of current coastal and marine research.

Instructor: Georgia Klein

Students must be in third year or above, or have permission of intructor.

Cross-listing: GEOG 3102
Exclusion: Students who have completed SUST 3952 may not take SUST 3102 for credit.

SUST 3103.03 - Effective Argument in Sustainability (Fall term)

This collaborative seminar challenges students to engage in argument and persuasion. Learn about the argumentative process and how to separate facts from opinions. Discussion topics emerge from the ESS Lecture Series. Contemplate multiple views on these controversial issues and become more confident and comfortable responding to the views of others.

Instructor: Georgia Klein

Pre-requisites: SUST 2000 or SUST 2001, or permission of instructor.
Lecture and seminar, lots of participation.
Exclusion: Students who have completed SUST 4950 may not take SUST 3103 for credit.

SUST 3104.03 - Sustainability and the Non-Profit Sector (Summer, online)

This course introduces the Canadian non-profit sector and its role in driving social change towards sustainability, equity and social justice at local, regional, national and international levels. It examines the particular role and contributions of NGOs in relation to state and private actors, in achieving social, economic and ecological sustainability.

Instructor: San Patten
Pre-requisite: SUST 2000 or permission of instructor.
Lecture and seminar, group work, 3 credit hours.

SUST 3106.03 - The Canadian North: Environmental Change and Challenges (Winter term)

Arctic environments are dynamic systems, they possess their own distinct natural and physical relationships with a deep history of interaction and stewardship by Indigenous peoples who call the Arctic home, and who declare ‘The Right to be Cold’.

This course introduces the challenges of environmental change faced in northern environments by first introducing how these systems form, the unique conditions in which they operate, and how they will respond to climate change in the future. Examples of questions we will address in this class include: How do human impacts influence northern communities? What kinds of ecosystems do we find in the Arctic, and how do they contrast temperate regions? How do we measure the impact of disturbance on aquatic environments? Students will learn concepts in earth system processes, aquatic ecology, human geography, and Inuit perspectives of ecological knowledge. Principles of ecosystem management will complement discussions. The emphasis of this course will be on understanding how environmental change influences human-ecological processes.

Instructor: Andrew Medeiros
Students must be in third year or above, or have permission of intructor.

Cross-listed with GEOG 3106

Exclusion: Students who have completed SUST 3956 may not receive credit for SUST 3106.

SUST 3107.03 - Communicating Sustainability: Media and Messaging (Winter term)

Sustainability is one of the most crucial news topic of our time. Through a workshop-driven approach, this course will encourage students to read these stories through a critical lens, produce journalism that is true to the science, and work with journalists on this topic.

College of Sustainability and School for Resource and Environmental Studies students will have an opportunity to learn an overview of the process and ethics of journalism. Journalism students will learn to better evaluate the sources they work with and how to add rigour to their sustainability reporting.

Each week, students will identify and critique pieces from legacy media, such as radio, TV, newspapers, and magazines; online sources including social media, podcasts and vlogs; and even current academic journal articles. We will consider these stories from the perspective of subject specialists, media consumers, and journalists. We'll look at what makes a story effective, the credibility of its sources and evidence, and how to responsibly communicate complex issues to a general audience.

In parallel with this analysis, students will pitch their own media project ideas to an "editorial board" of students and instructors, who will offer feedback. Students will then work in interdisciplinary teams to develop a piece of journalism from a pool of refined project pitches

Pre-requisites: Third-year status or above

Instructor: Celia Konowe

SUST 3108.03 - Green Finance and Environment, Social & Governance Investing (Fall term)

Curious about Environment, Social, and Governance (ESG) investing? Want to know how different forms of Sustainable Finance work and if they really deliver on their objectives? Looking to learn about how to invest in ways that drive sustainable practices and create social impact?

This course explores the rapidly growing market of ESG investing. The class begins with an overview of general approaches to financial investing, combined with an examination of how ESG investing fits into these markets. Students will then practically apply this by researching, designing, implementing, and trading their own ESG investment portfolios throughout the semester. The course will also explore project evaluation for ESG initiatives, allowing students to better understand which offer the best opportunities for investment while creating the greatest impact.

What students will leave with:

1) Knowledge of how investing in financial markets works and where ESG investments fit into these existing markets

2) An understanding of how existing financial systems can be reordered to deliver funding for projects that create positive environmental and social impacts

3) How to better assess and screen ESG projects based on their merits rather than their claims.

4) Overall competencies in systems thinking, managing complexity, project evaluation and assessment

Pre-requisites: Third-year status or above

Instructor: Andrew Bergel

SUST 3301.03 - Local Approaches to Sustainability (Summer term)

Instructors: Georgia Klein and Laurel Schut

This is an intensive 2-week field course (all day Monday – Friday) with a mixture of classroom learning and day field excursions. Assignments and readings are required in addition to the scheduled class time, so students should plan to be clear from other obligations during this time. An auxiliary fee of $50 per student will be charged to cover the costs of field trips.

This course offers students a collaborative learning opportunity to critically investigate and explore multi-faceted ways of how to approach local sustainability issues. From theory to practice, this course engages students in practices of community engagement and place-based learning; both practices are growing fields of research and increasingly applied in both the natural and social sciences. The course allows for immersion and personal engagement with the local community and the environment in situ and offers different ways of experiencing and exploring oral stories, sites of interest, affected areas, and the humans involved. This formative learning experience is inherently interdisciplinary and engages multiple modalities to address different learning styles and diverse perspectives.

The sustainability challenges that we face, both now and in the future, are large, complex, and often require unique and innovative solutions. Therefore, the focus of this course centres on resilience and how we thrive - in the context of this course, we explore resilience as the capacity to respond to perturbations, resist damage, and continue to function in a way that ensures continued thriving (rather than only surviving).

To explore these themes in more depth, we look at four modules which showcase resilient sustainability initiatives within our province: (1) Indigenous perspectives, (2) food resilience, (3) waste-to-energy and industry collaboration, and (4) what it means to ‘thrive’ as individuals, communities, and businesses.

Throughout the course, we will also examine individual resilience through ongoing reflection on the concept of active hope. Macy & Johnstone (2012) identify active hope as the following: “Active hope is about becoming active participants in bringing about what we hope for. Active hope is a practice. Like tai chi or gardening, it is something we do rather than have.” Using this concept, students will therefore explore what it means to practice resilience as an individual in the face of sustainability challenges and adversity, and ideally apply what they have learned from the local case studies to their own practice of resilience.

Learning about local issues and connecting directly with the local community allows for a deeper understanding and evaluation of approaches to sustainability, allowing students to experience varied approaches from different disciplines and fields. Throughout the course, students will work collaboratively to integrate their learning both across modules and with their academic experiences thus far. This course is an opportunity for students to immerse themselves in local approaches to sustainability.

SUST 3302.03 - Measuring Food Sustainability (Summer term)

Why is measuring food sustainability important? We are becoming increasingly aware of the impacts that our food systems have on natural environments, biodiversity, the livelihoods of our food producers, and equitable accessibility for individuals. Integrating the expertise of numerous faculty and community leaders, this field course explores how food sustainability is measured and evaluated across different disciplines. Daily hands-on, active, and experiential learning is emphasized throughout the course. The course activities and assessments range from agricultural biodiversity monitoring via beetle surveys to a summative design challenge exploring a possible solution to a food sustainability measurement challenge.

This is a two-week intensive course with time split between Dal’s Halifax campus (five days) and Truro campus (five days). As part of the course auxiliary fee, course transportation and accommodation at Dalhousie Residences will be provided for students for the week they are away from their home campus; however, food and meals are not included, and students will be responsible for their own food expenses.

Instructors: Laurel Schut and Paul Manning
Cross-list equivalent: AGRI 3302.03
Restricted to students in third year and above

SUST 3502.03 - The Campus as a Living Lab (Winter term)

In the early 1980s, the innovative environmental educator David Orr decided that university campuses should model the world that their students seek to create. Out of his ideals and commitment, the first 'greening the campus' project was created. The idea was to use the campus as a laboratory for demonstrating how to create sustainable communities. The Greening the Campus movement has since spread across university campuses in both the United States and Canada.

In this course, the Dalhousie campus serves as a living laboratory for identifying, evaluating and assessing indicators of progress toward greater campus sustainability. Working in groups, students apply problem solving models to case studies using qualitative and quantitative research methods and make recommendations for improvements on campus based on their analyses.

For a list of past student group projects and the final reports, which include a mixture of ESS and ENVS students, please click here: Past student projects.

SUST 3502 is 3 credit hours in winter term. Prerequisites: SUST 2000.06 or SUST 2001.06 or permission of instructor. Cross-listed with ENVS 3502. Exclusion: MGMT 3701 (only one of 3701 or 3502 can be taken for credit)

SUST 3701.03 - The Community as a Living Lab (Fall term)

This course introduces students to research, concepts and methods for analyzing community sustainability across a spectrum of perspectives. In this course, the Halifax community serves as a living laboratory for identifying, evaluating and assessing indicators of progress toward greater environmental, social and economic sustainability. Working in groups, students apply problem-solving models to case studies using qualitative and quantitative research methods to help community-based organizations grapple with real world problems. A variety of tools may be used including systems analysis, environmental audits, field surveys, questionnaires, interviews, and statistical analysis. Students then draw conclusions and make recommendations for improvements on the basis of their analysis.

SUST 3701 is 3 credit hours in Fall term.
Prerequisites: SUST 2000.06 or SUST 2001.06
or ENVS 1100.03 and 1200.03
or MGMT 1702.03 and 2702.03
or permission of instructor.
Cross-listed with MGMT 3701.
Exclusion: SUST 3502 (only one of 3701 or 3502 can be taken for credit)

SUST 3702.03 - Sustainable Industries (Winter term)

The course introduces students to concepts and methods for analyzing industrial sustainability through an interdisciplinary lens that highlights the necessity of including economic, social and environmental considerations. It also intends to deepen their understanding of: a) the business case (short term and long term) for industrial/corporate sustainability; b) the tools, techniques and strategies necessary to decouple economic growth of our business sectors from resource use and environmental degradation; and c) the key role that business and industry play in the sustainable development agenda. Using examples from various industrial settings, a range of management and policy mechanisms for ensuring resource sustainability are explored. 

Prerequisites: SUST 2000.06 or SUST 2001.06 or (MGMT 1301.03 and MGMT 1302.03) or (MGMT 1702.03 and MGMT 2702.03) or (ENVS 1100.03 and ENVS 1200.03) or ENVS 1000.06 

SUST 3950.03 - Topics in Environment, Sustainability and Society

This course addresses current interdisciplinary issues in sustainability with topics varying each semester. The course is taught by Dalhousie faculty, and/or visiting scholars. Please consult Academic Timetable for current offerings. 

Restrictions: The course is restricted to students in the Environment, Sustainability and Society (ESS) program, or with permission of the Academic Advisor in the College of Sustainability. Must have third year status or above.


Fourth-Year Courses

SUST 4001.03 and 4002.03 - ESS Capstone (Consecutive Fall and Winter terms)

Students work in multidisciplinary groups with community partner organizations to identify real problems and develop meaningful strategies to address them. Groups work with advisors and experts and create detailed plans of action based on strong research and analysis.

This class uses interdisciplinary teamwork to develop strategies to address specific, real-world environmental problems. Students spend three to six contact hours per week in studio/workshop sessions, plus seminars and special lectures. During the first term students and instructors together identify environmental problems and/or opportunities and appropriate community partners; form interdisciplinary student teams; develop broad strategic approaches; undertake research and develop preliminary action plans. During the second term, action plans are refined into specific activities, in concert with the community partners; research is extended in an iterative manner; final recommendations are publicly presented and published; and lessons and opportunities for future projects and methods are identified. 

SUST 4001 and 4002 must be taken in consecutive Fall an Winter terms. Credit will not be granted for SUST 4001 without completion of SUST 4002.

Prerequisites: SUST 2000.06 or SUST 3502 or SUST 3701 or permission of instructor. SUST 4001/2 is also approved as a BCD Core Elective.

Instructors: Peter Mushkat and Georgia Klein  

SUST 4004.03 - Pathways to Sustainable Energy (Winter term)

Students gain a practical understanding of how to move towards a low-carbon energy future. Students learn about international, national, and subnational policies that drive adoption of renewable energy, energy efficiency, and carbon capture and storage technologies and how the technologies work. The technological barriers to their widespread adoption and how to overcome these barriers are also discussed.

Prerequisites: ECON 1101.03 or ECON 1102.03 or SUST 2001.06 and be a 4th year student or have permission of instructor to attend.

Cross-listed with ENVS 4004

SUST 4047.03 - Biodiversity Conservation System Design (Winter term)


Conservation systems that protect biodiversity are increasingly necessary as human activities dominate the landscape, seascape and freshwater systems. Precise prescriptions for conservation design are evolving. The theory and practice of conservation system design are explored through lectures, presentations, discussions, and exercises, as an active learning module involving students, the instructor and the broader community. Topics include representation of ecological systems, focal species, population viability, habitat suitability, landscape ecology, connectivity, road ecology, and planning for species shifts in response to climate change. 

The course is designed as a co-operative teaching and active-learning module involving students, the instructor, teaching assistants (TAs), and occasional guest lecturers. The format of classes includes standard lectures, guest speakers, in-class discussions and exercises, conservation-GIS labs and assignments, and group and individual projects. The structure, content and assignments covered within the course are based in part on input from the students regarding their learning objectives. Central theoretical and applied content will be presented and discussed in the first 6-8 weeks of the term. For the subsequent weeks, students will choose between two learning streams: (1) project management in conservation-geographic-information-system (GIS), analysis, and applications; and, (2) socio-ecological issues in biodiversity conservation planning and management. In the two weeks, students will briefly present the results of their term projects in class.

This course explores the science and practice of conservation system design with a focus on biodiversity and socioecological factors. Key ecological design considerations include representation of typical ecosystems, critical areas for species at risk, hotspots of diversity and rarity, habitat requirements of focal species, the role of top carnivores, and the importance of connectivity, particularly in a context of climate change. Key management considerations include the relationship between ecosystem services and biodiversity conservation, freshwater ecology, urban ecology, international protected and conserved areas, the idea of wilderness, and anthropocentric versus ecocentric approaches to conservation.

Instructor: Andrew Medeiros

SUST 4125.03 - Conflict Negotiation and Sustainability (Fall term)

This course looks at local and global conflicts driven by: climate, politics, resource extraction, land use, and development. The class offers preparatory lectures followed by team-based simulated negotiations. Students learn techniques related to de-escalation, negotiation and debate tactics, through assuming and advocating various stakeholder perspectives.  

Instructor: Andrew Bergel
Lecture, discussion, 3 credit hours.
Students must be in third year or above, or have permission of intructor.

Crosslisted with MGMT 4125 and PLAN 4125

SUST 4800.03 - ESS Independent Study (Fall, Winter and Summer terms)

This Independent study course allows fourth-year ESS students to study a topic in Environment, Sustainability and Society not covered in other courses, or in more depth. At least one semester ahead, the student should consult with a faculty member to discuss the independent study topic, and then consult the SUST 4800 Instructor of Record for preliminary feedback/approval-in-principle. The student and faculty supervisor will complete the Independent Study Contract and Syllabus together, and submit it to the Instructor of Record for approval. The Instructor of Record must approve the Contract and Syllabus prior to granting permission to register.

Instructor of Record: Georgia Klein

PREREQUISITES: Restricted to fourth-year students in the Environment, Sustainability and Society (ESS) program, or with permission from the Instructor of Record.

Offered in any term, 3 credit hours.

Students may complete a second Independent Study (SUST 4801.03 ESS Independent Study #2) after SUST 4800.03.

Download the ESS Independent Study Contract and Syllabus Template here.

SUST 4901.03 and SUST 4902.03 ESS Honours Thesis (Consecutive Fall and Winter terms)

SUST 4901 and 4902 – Honours Thesis Project

Independent research project carried out under the supervision of an approved faculty member or university-affiliated professional. In this “full year” (September to April) course we examine and practice the research process as students complete a senior honours thesis. The fall term features weekly seminars about crafting a research question, developing a research proposal, qualitative and quantitative research methods, and research ethics. Students write introductory chapters of the thesis including the literature review and research methods, and present their research methods and research proposal. During the winter term, students perform their research, analyze the data, and write the remaining chapters of the thesis. Students summarize and present their findings in an academic poster at the end of the winter term.

An ESS Honours Thesis must take an interdisciplinary approach, and must relate to sustainability. Topics vary widely, and usually draw from the student’s allied subject. For a list of ESS Honours Thesis project, please see this link.  


Admission to ESS Honours Thesis requires a cumulative GPA of 3.3 in all SUST and ESS Elective courses at 2000 level or above, with no individual grade less than C. The admission team will be using letter grades that have been replaced with “P” to determine eligibility for ESS Honours. Please contact Kaarin ( if you want to discuss your particular circumstances with regard to any of your relevant grades that were replaced with “P”. This will be taken into consideration by the admission team.

ESS Honours Thesis is required for the BA and BSc Combined Honours with ESS as the primary subject. If ESS is the secondary subject, the Honours Thesis is typically completed in the Allied (primary) Subject. Students must discuss their intention to complete a Combined Honours degree with their Allied Subject advisor since there may be additional requirements to satisfy their Combined Honours degree requirements.

Students must apply for admission to the ESS Honours Program by completing the “ESS Honours Thesis - Intent to Register” form in consultation with a thesis supervisor. For students intending to pursue ESS Honours in 2024-25, this form is due at the end of May 2024. Please do not hesitate to reach out for help, as follows:

Students must also complete the Dalhousie Honours Application Form (scroll down to "Honours/Combined Honours" for the link to the new fillable pdf). Students must meet the Honours admission requirements for both subjects and must meet with both subject advisors to get their approval. The form must be signed by the Academic Advisor in both departments. The form is due in September but it is strongly recommended that you complete the form in the spring after registering for your final courses. Email for support!

ESS Honours Thesis may be completed by any qualified ESS Major or Double Major student. Discuss this option with the ESS Academic Advisor.

Instructor: Steven Mannell
Pre-requisites: SUST 3000 and permission of instructor.

SUST 4901 and 4902 must be completed in consecutive fall and winter terms. Credit will not be granted for SUST 4901 without completion of SUST 4902.

Must secure thesis supervisor and approved thesis plan prior to registration.

SUST 4950.03 - Advanced Topics in Environment, Sustainability and Society

This course addresses current inrterdisciplinary issuesin sustainability with topics varying each semester. The course is taught by Dalhousie faculty, and/or visiting scholars. Please consult Academic Timetable for current offerings. 

Pre-requisites: SUST 2000.06 or SUST 2001.06 or  with permission of the Academic Advisor in the College of Sustainability. Must have third year status or above.