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Experience Makes a Difference

Academic studies. Career exploration. Community involvement.

We aim to enrich undergraduate education in the Faculty of Social Sciences through fostering unique approaches to learning within the classroom and more actively engaging students in the community, as well as promoting strong relationships between academic studies, career exploration and community involvement.

Program Information

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Frequently Asked Questions

1. What is Environment & Society? 

Environment and Society is concerned with the social and spatial organization of human activity. It studies people’s relationships with their natural, built and social environments. Students of this program also study these environment-society relationships using knowledge from multiple disciplines including geography, environmental studies, urban studies, and Geographic Information Science or GIS.

2. What are the program options for Environment & Society? What are the academic requirements to be considered for the program?

There is a single or combined Honours program in Environment & Society and a three-year BA degree.

Honours Environment & Society (BA)
Combined Honours in Environment & Society and Another Subject (BA)
Environment & Society (BA)

 

McMaster also offers certificates in Geographic Information Science and Urban Studies & Planning that students can complete alongside their degree programs. These certificates provide separate credentials which signal your expertise in a particular field of study.

Concurrent Certificate in Geographic Information Science (GIS)
Concurrent Certificate in Urban Studies & Planning

Students can also elect to complete an Interdisciplinary Minor in Sustainability

3. What can I do with this degree?

Environment & Society, like all Social Sciences degrees, focuses on equipping students with a range of transferable skills that are useful in a variety of careers. These include things like critical thinking, written and oral communication skills, and data analysis and interpretation.

Students in Environment & Society programs are well positioned for graduate training and careers in some specific fields including urban and regional planning, environmental assessment, sustainability management and GIS.

4. What are some experiential opportunities in the program?

From Level II onwards, there are many opportunities for students to take part in fieldwork and applied assignments. Students also collaborate to collect data and analyze real-world problems. 

At the beginning of the third year, students have a choice of field courses where they can develop research skills related to environmental monitoring and assessment, or human geography and urban planning. These week-long intensive courses are a great way to learn skills and build relationships with other members of our undergraduate community. 

There are also have opportunities for internships in private, public and non-profit settings. Students interested in GIS have interned at the Weather Network and at Lowe’s Canada. Some students have also been interested in urban issues and worked with the City of Hamilton’s planning department, while others have worked with the Bay Area Restoration Council on issues related to environmental education, and the cleanup and restoration of Hamilton’s waterfront. For those students who prefer to remain on campus, we also have internship and independent study opportunities.

5. What are some of the topics covered by courses in the Environment and Society programs?

Courses cover topics including urban environments, economy and transportation, environmental policy, health and population change and Geographic Information Science (GIS). There are also a series of core courses on fieldwork, data analysis & research methods.

6. I’m interested in working in GIS. Will this program give me the skills I need?

These courses allow students to master the use of tools to gather, manage and analyze spatial data. Advanced courses in coding and web-based GIS are also available, so students can develop their own software tools. There is also a dedicated GIS lab within the school where students gain hands-on experience that can help meet the requirements for professional certification offered by the GIS Certification Institute.

7. I’m interested in urban planning. Is this the right program for me?

Courses dealing with how cities are planned and organized and how cities can respond effectively to major challenges such as transportation gridlock, housing affordability and climate change are available. These courses provide an excellent starting point for graduate planning programs and careers in planning.

8. What’s the difference between Environment & Society and Environmental Science?

The Environment & Society BA program focuses on the relationships between people and the environment, while the Environmental Sciences BSc program focuses on the processes and features of natural environments.

9. Do I have to be an environmentalist to enter this program?

Students in this program have a variety of beliefs and perspectives about the environment and humans’ place in it. This program includes students interested in natural resource development, planning policy, environmental law, and environmental conservation. Our program prioritizes critical thinking and problem solving over teaching any one perspective about the environment.

Download Program Brochure