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Resources, Environment and Sustainability


Degrees Offered: Ph.D., M.A., M.Sc.



K. Chan, S. Chang, S. Donner, L. Harris, M. Johnson, M. Kandlikar, C. Kremen, G. Öberg, N. Ramankutty, T. Satterfield, H. Wittman.

Associate Professors

D.R. Boyd, J. Zhao.

Assistant Professors

J. Gantois, A. Giang.


Program Overview

The Institute for Resources, Environment and Sustainability (IRES) provides interdisciplinary graduate studies through the Resources, Environment and Sustainability program (RES). The mission of IRES is to foster sustainable futures through integrated research and learning concerning the linkages among human and natural systems and to support decision making for local to global scales. RES provides a home for graduate students focusing on the integration of the biophysical (ecological), socio-economic, and political realities of resource management within the context of a sustainable, healthy environment.

Students in RES develop tailored academic programs for their graduate degrees to draw on the expertise of faculty from across the campus, as well as the private and public sectors. To enable students to develop unique graduate programs that capture the breadth of their previous educational experience and their academic and career goals, RES offers either a Master of Arts or Science degree as well as a Ph.D. Graduate student supervisors, as well as members of the supervisory committee, are selected from various units and departments across the University representing the faculties of Arts, Science, Forestry, Land and Food Systems, Commerce and Business Administration, Applied Science, Law, and Education.

Doctor of Philosophy

Admission Requirements

The academic program is flexible and, to a large extent, tailored to the educational goals of the student, though a strong interdisciplinary focus must be key to the student's plans. A dissertation proposal is required at the time of formal application to the program, as is a sample of academic writing by the applicant. The dissertation proposal facilitates the selection of an appropriate supervisor, supervisory committee, and individual academic direction. Students admitted to the Ph.D. degree program generally possess a master's degree, with clear evidence of research ability or potential.

Program Requirements

The Ph.D. program involves intensive research resulting in an original and scholarly contribution to knowledge in the field of study. The student is expected to initiate and develop a research plan in consultation with their supervisory committee. The program, because of its comprehensive nature, normally requires four years for completion. Students admitted to the RES program will be required to take RES 602, plus a methods course decided in consultation with the supervisory committee. In exceptional circumstances RES 602 may be substituted for a course approved by the supervisory committee and grad chair. Additional coursework may be selected in consultation with the student's supervisory committee and approved by the graduate program chair.

All doctoral students are required to successfully complete a comprehensive examination and required coursework within 24 months of entering into the Program. The major requirement for the Ph.D. is completion of a research dissertation that meets requirements of the Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies.

Master of Arts

The master's degree provides students with the opportunity to broaden their academic and research experience. A student's background, thesis topic, approach to research, and program electives will govern whether they will pursue either the M.A. or M.Sc. degree program.

Admission Requirements

All applicants must meet the Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies' minimum academic standards for admission. Additional requirements are stated on the RES program website.

A research investigation producing a scholarly contribution to the particular area of study is necessary. Normally, these programs will take two years to complete, including at least one year of residence.

Program Requirements

The master's degree requirement is a minimum of 30 credits, including a 12-credit thesis (RES 599). Of the remaining 18 credits of coursework, at least 12 credits must be in courses numbered 500 or above. The academic program must be approved by the supervisory committee and the graduate program chair. The intent of the program is to ensure that the student research and write an integrative thesis. Upon completion of the thesis, an external examiner (on or off campus) will be appointed to the examination committee for the thesis defence.

Master of Science

The master's degree provides students with the opportunity to broaden their academic and research experience. The student's background, the selection of the thesis topic, the approach to research, and the program electives, govern whether the M.A. or M.Sc. degree program is pursued.

Admission Requirements

Same as for the M.A.

Program Requirements

Same as for the M.A.

Contact Information

Institute for Resources, Environment and Sustainability
Resources, Environment and Sustainability Program
AERL 430-2202 Main Mall
Vancouver, BC Canada V6T 1Z4
Tel: 604.822.9034
Fax: 604.822.9250

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