U of G First to Offer Environmental Governance Degree

February 07, 2008 - News Release

The University of Guelph is about to become the first university to offer an undergraduate degree focused entirely on teaching students how to safeguard the environment through innovative approaches to governing.

Starting next fall, students can major in environmental governance, which will give them the tools and knowledge needed to participate effectively in environmental decision-making in a variety of settings from government agencies to non-governmental organizations to private industry.

"The most challenging environmental problems facing Canada and the world today such as global warming and the decline of world fish stocks will not be solved with just better natural science," said geography professor Ben Bradshaw, who helped designed the joint program between the Departments of Geography and Political Science. "These problems can only be solved through enlightened governance."

Prof. Byron Sheldrick, chair of the Department of Political Science, who also worked on designing the program, said the increasing interest in environmental issues has led to an emphasis in environmental policy-making in both the public and private sectors.

"There is a huge demand for people who have skills and experience in developing policies that bring environmental issues to the forefront," he said. "In the past, environmental governance was handled mostly by government organizations. But as the interest in environmental issues continues to grow, new players are getting involved in governance such as communities, NGO and even private corporations where social and environmental responsibility is emerging as a key concern."

Other universities currently offer courses that include aspects of environmental governance, but no other school offers a degree program, said Bradshaw.

The degree combines existing and new courses in the departments of Geography, Political Science, Economics, and Food, Agricultural and Resource Economics.

Sheldrick said it has the potential to draw students from across Canada and even internationally.

"Environmental issues are hot right now, and I don't see that changing anytime soon. I think the environment will continue to be one of the main public policy issues on the agenda, which is one reason why this program is needed."

The goal of the combined program is to introduce students to the processes and mechanisms involved in environmental governance, the factors shaping this area, the challenges and innovations of the field and emerging societal concerns.

Prof. Ben Bradshaw
Department of Geography
519-824-4120, Ext. 58640

For media questions, contact Communications and Public Affairs: Lori Bona Hunt, 519-824-4120, Ext. 53338, l.hunt@exec.uoguelph.ca or Deirdre Healey, Ext. 56982, d.healey@exec.uoguelph.ca.

University of Guelph
50 Stone Road East
Guelph, Ontario, N1G 2W1