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Department of Geography

BA in Geography (Environment and Sustainability)

Lack of access to clean water supply is an increasingly acute problem for residents of rapidly growing, large cities (Photographer: K. Bakker)


The Environment and Sustainability Program offers an integrated understanding of physical, ecological, economic, socio-cultural and political systems, as they shape the world in which we live and influence the future of life on planet earth. It provides an excellent grounding for those interested in working in the environmental sphere and a strong platform for the development of a sense of global stewardship.

The Environment and Sustainability Program offers a BA degree within the Department of Geography. It is carefully designed to integrate the perspectives of the Geographical Biogeosciences (leading to a BSc degree) and those of the broader field of Human Geography (in which a BA degree is also available), by focusing on the varied, ever-changing interactions between humans and nature.  These interactions have long been a concern of Geography, a wide-ranging discipline that provides a unique perspective on the habitable earth by bringing together scientific, social scientific, and humanistic approaches to understanding.  This program therefore offers many of the advantages associated with interdisciplinary studies of the environment and benefits from its location in a single department in which research and teaching straddle the categories that elsewhere divide knowledge and narrow the search for understanding. This location also offers students an identifiable, socially engaging, and intellectually rewarding home on campus. In sum, the Environment and Sustainability program encourages students to see the world whole, to develop a sense of global citizenship and to consider how they can act responsibly to foster the resilience and enhance the sustainability of the earth’s environments and societies. 

Evergreen golf courses, endless suburbs, parking lots and industrial wasteland - We must promote significantly different, more sustainable and sensible developments (Photographer: Elvin Wyly).

The Environment and Sustainability program proceeds from a broad base in the first two years of BA studies. Six courses (18 credits) are required. These are chosen from carefully-selected lists of offerings in the Geographical Biogeosciences and Human Geography and include one course introducing students to environmental and geographical research.  Students are encouraged to range widely beyond these courses in shaping their lower-year programs; courses with an environmental emphasis in economics, history, sociology, and political science, and others with a focus on environmental science (including courses in the Faculties of Forestry [Natural Resource Conservation] and Land and Food Systems) are recommended.

In the 3rd and 4th years, students are required to complete thirteen courses (39 credits) numbered 300 or above from the lists below. These credits are clustered in three concentrations:

Rising sea levels and changing rainfall patterns threaten the sustainability of communities across the Pacific (Photographer: S. Donner)

Environmental; Human Geography; Research and Methods. The 21 credits required for the environmental concentration are selected from a combination of GEOB (Geographical Biogeoscience) and GEOG (Geography, BA) courses chosen for their complementary emphases on and approaches to understanding human-environment interactions; the GEOB courses are designed to be accessible for BA (E&S) students.  The Human Geography course requirement (6 credits) introduces students to questions of place and human identity, and the spatial basis of cities, economies and societies. The 12 credits of Research and Methods courses provide students with a solid grounding in research methods of great value to environmental practitioners and citizens alike. On completion of the program, students will have at least an introductory grasp (depending on their course selections) of Geographic Information Science, Cartography, Statistics, and qualitative research methods. They will also have completed at least one research course (either as a field course, a research workshop or small-group seminar).  Students are encouraged to follow their particular interests in the study of environment and sustainability by selecting relevant electives from other UBC departments; further advice about options is available from the Geography Advising Office.

In general, Human Geographers make contributions to the private and public sectors in such professional fields as education, physical and social planning, urban development, industrial location, economic development, tourism, regional studies, cartography and geographical information science. In addition, students graduating from the Environment and Sustainability program are particularly well prepared for employment in environmental and resource fields, and with the growing number of groups and government departments that now include sustainability as an important part of their mandates.

More information on Geography majors and honours requirements and individual courses within each of the 4 concentrations are listed here.


The Faculty of Arts offers Academic Advising to provide students with assistance and guidance in their academic decision-making. Faculty of Arts degree requirements are here.

Your Departmental Advisor for the Environment and Sustainability Program:

Michael More
Acting Undergraduate Advisor

Office: Room 218
Phone: 604-822-2020
E-mail: geography.advisor@ubc.ca

Hours: Mon. to Fri. from 9 - 11am & 2 - 4pm

Jennifer Hamilton
Undergraduate Advisor

Office: Room 218
Phone: 604-822-2020
E-mail: jennifer.hamilton@geog.ubc.ca

Hours: On leave


Department of Geography - Faculty of Arts - The University of British Columbia
1984 West Mall, Vancouver, BC V6T 1Z2, Phone: 604-822-2663 Fax: 604-822-6150
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