RES Courses

All RES students must register in the appropriate RES thesis course below for every term of their program, including all summer terms:

  • RES 599 for master’s students
  • RES 699 for doctoral (PhD) students

 

2021W Term 1 (September 2021 – December 2021)

RES 500B: Directed Studies

Directed Studies courses are designed by a student and faculty instructor to meet the needs of a student in an area that is not addressed in the current curriculum. RES students may register in an RES Directed Studies course with the approval of their supervisor and the RES Graduate Advisor. You must have an approved RES Directed Studies Form prior to registering in this course.

RES 500D: Expertise under fire. Navigating the divide between scientific practice and science studies

Instructor: Gunilla Oberg

Day/Time: Tuesdays 2:00 - 5:00 pm

Location: TBD

Enrollment: Graduate students that either conduct natural science studies or study scientific practices (or advanced undergraduates with instructor approval and completed G+PS form)

 

Description

Scientific expertise is under fire. There is an urgent need for scientists and science scholars to jointly grapple with the attacks on science by populist politicians who claim that expertise is elitist and a threat to democracy. In this course, students will jointly explore how science experts can support democracy without turning democracy over to experts.

Science students will grapple with the role of value-judgments in science and how it plays out in their own field of research.

Humanities students studying the scientific enterprise will grapple with the communication barrier between science studies and the scientific practice.

Through the use historic and contemporary cases, students will work in mixed groups to jointly seek ways to fruitfully navigate the divide between the two communities to find ways to appreciate the social elements of science while seeking a constructive way out of the post-truth quagmire.

Background: Science studies have raised questions about the role of expertise in a democracy. Who counts as an expert? Who should be at the table? It is well documented that scientists on opposite sides of a policy-relevant scientific controversy commonly perceive the other side as biased but see themselves as objective. More data and rigorous analysis rarely resolve such conflicts, yet the expectation is that it is possible to reach consensus. This expectation hinges on the idea that the scientific enterprise is free of values and that science is a deliverer of irrefutable facts. Value-judgments are a necessary part of rigorous science because 100% certainty will never reign. Consensus is therefore not always possible and probably not even desirable. Yet, little is known about how to sensibly navigate this terrain.

RES 500H: Human Rights and the Environment

Instructor: David Boyd

Day/Time: Wednesdays 2:00 - 5:00 pm

Location:  This course will be delivered online.

Enrollment: RES Graduate Students. Non-RES graduate students or advanced undergraduates may register with instructor approval.

 

Description

One of the most dynamic and exciting areas of law and policy today lies at the confluence of human rights and environmental protection. Whether it is the right to a healthy environment, the right to water, or the rights of nature, the legal landscape is struggling to respond to the global environmental crisis precipitated by the new geological epoch known as the Anthropocene.

 

Through a critical examination of international, constitutional, legislative, and jurisprudential developments, the course seeks to provide participants with a strong foundation and new insights into this dynamic field. Innovative comparative research techniques made possible through the Internet and online translation tools will also be highlighted.

A central theme will be evaluating the differences between human rights on paper and their realization in practice. Students will be expected to engage in critical thinking about the effectiveness, efficiency, and equity of laws, policies, and institutions intended to protect human rights, while considering the broader ecological, political, social, and economic context.

A major element of the course will be a collaborative research project that provides evidence about human rights violations stemming from sacrifice zones in various regions of the world. Sacrifice zones are communities that suffer from catastrophic levels of hazardous pollution. This research will feed into a report that will be officially presented to the United Nations Human Rights Council.

RES 500H Course Outline

RES 505: Qualitative Methods in Interdisciplinary Contexts

Instructor: Leila Harris

Day/Time: Thursdays 2:00 - 5:00 pm

Location: AERL 107

Enrollment: Graduate Students (or advanced undergraduates with instructor approval and completed G+PS form)

Description

This course offers an introduction to qualitative research approaches and their practical applications for interdisciplinary research related to socio-ecological sustainability. Using a student-led learning format, we will undertake original research as well as read and critically assess qualitative research conducted in interdisciplinary contexts. We will discuss the relationship between research motivations, paradigms, and methodological choices, ethical considerations and the process of ethics review, and fieldwork experiences in both academic and applied research settings. Careful examination of representation, voice, reflexivity and researcher positioning will be investigated as part of the course. The course includes activities and assessments related to qualitative research design, ethics approvals, fieldwork methods (including observation and fieldnotes, interviewing, oral history, focus groups, visual methods, archival research) and approaches to qualitative data analysis, including coding, analysis, and write up. Students will design and carry out an original field research project incorporating qualitative methods.

RES 510: Social Ecological Systems

Instructor: Claire Kremen

Day/Time: Tuesdays 9:00 am - 12:00 pm

Location:  AERL 107

Enrollment: Graduate Students (or advanced undergraduates with instructor approval and completed G+PS form)

 

Description

Dynamics of environmental issues across temporal and spatial scales using disciplinary and interdisciplinary approaches to integrating sociological, cultural, and ecological perspectives. This course considers interdisciplinary socio-ecological approaches that allow us to consider intwined social and ecological processes together.. Course content will include exposure to core concepts and debates from SES, political ecology and allied fields associated methods that focus on the integration of socio-ecological perspectives. as well as several case studies. Attention will also be paid to the evaluation of perspectives where such integration does not occur and why this matters. Students will leave the course with an understanding of (i) how these interlinked systems and dynamics function, (ii) how existing policies, incentives, governance regimes, behaviours (individual and collective), and preferences affect these systems and processes and (iii) how new policies and institutions might learn from available research to better promote sustainable trajectories. Students will also engage in a whole-class applied research project to experience first-hand the challenges and opportunities of conducting interdisciplinary social ecological systems research and synthesis.

 

2021W Term 2 (January 2022 – April 2022)

RES 500B: Directed Studies

Directed Studies courses are designed by a student and faculty instructor to meet the needs of a student in an area that is not addressed in the current curriculum. RES students may register in an RES Directed Studies course with the approval of their supervisor and the RES Graduate Advisor. You must have an approved RES Directed Studies Form prior to registering in this course.

RES 500C: Advanced Topics in Conservation Science

Instructor: Claire Kremen

Day/Time: Mondays 1:00 - 4:00 pm

Location:  AERL 107

Enrollment: Graduate Students (or advanced undergraduates with instructor approval and completed G+PS form)

Description

This course is a graduate level seminar with lecture and discussion covering advanced topics in conservation of biological diversity.   We will read a mixture of foundational as well as recent papers covering a range of current topics within Conservation Biology.  One of the most exciting aspects of the course is that students will have the opportunity to work in interdisciplinary teams on an active conservation project, commissioned by international and local NGOs (for example, World Wildlife Fund and Delta Wildlife Farmland Trust).   Students will prepare deliverables that will help these organizations in their current on-the-ground work, under the guidance of the instructor and the project lead(s) from respective NGOs.  Group projects represent an exciting and unique opportunity to learn while contributing to conservation, and can lead to future projects or co-authored publications, resumé-building and networking.  Students will also gain experience leading discussions and developing interactive class exercises.

RES 500J: Environmental Justice Seminar: race, gender, politics and inequity

Instructor: Leila Harris

Day/Time: Thursdays 2:00 - 5:00 pm

Location:  AERL 107

Enrollment: Graduate Students (or advanced undergraduates with instructor approval and completed G+PS form)

Description

This graduate seminar will address current theoretical and empirical issues related to race, gender, and other key intersections of difference important for contemporary environmental justice concerns. The course will cover key concepts, case studies, and conceptual issues relevant to build a broad interdisciplinary and intersectional understanding of environmental justice issues, informed by relevant feminist, critical race, and social justice theories and approaches. Students are expected to read ahead of seminar, and actively contribute to class discussions and course assignments.

RES 502: Master's Interdisciplinary Case Analysis and Research Design

Instructor:  Gunilla Oberg

Day/Time:  Thursdays 9:00 am - 12:00 pm

Location: TBD

Enrollment: RES Graduate Students. Non-RES graduate students or advanced undergraduates may register with instructor approval.

 

Description

This is a course in which case studies are used to teach how sustainability questions are turned into researchable topics and what research methods (qualitative and quantitative) are used to arrive at answers.  The case studies will reflect the various foci of research at IRES.  The case studies will begin with simple questions and grow in sophistication and complexity.  Case studies will be used to explore similarities and differences in how questions in different domains are structured and researched. The students in the class will then be encouraged to develop the research questions and proposed methods for their own thesis by work-shopping their ideas in the class setting and through one-on-one mentoring with class instructors.

The case studies will be selected with the aim of highlighting key features of good research design, how different perspectives (theoretically, conceptually and methodologically) can lead to different kinds of research and how there is value in these different approaches, and foster the search for even better hybrid approaches.

Given the wide range of incoming academic and professional backgrounds among the students, peer mentoring will be used within the class to help bolster knowledge of and familiarity with qualitative and quantitative methods.
The goals of this course are to:

  • foster literacy in research methods and bring about familiarity with good research design;
  • initiate design of the research proposals for every student.

2018-19 RES 502 Course Outline *Master's

 

RES 507: Human Technological Systems

Instructor: Stephanie Chang

Day/Time: Tuesdays 2:00 pm - 5:00 pm

Location: AERL 107

Enrollment: RES Graduate Students. Non-RES graduate students or advanced undergraduates may register with instructor approval.

 

Description

The influence of science and technology on public policy is bidirectional. Science and technology (S&T) is influenced by policy decisions (policy for science) and in turn influences public policy (science for policy). The course introduces students to basic models for understanding this bidirectional interaction.  The approach is multidisciplinary, drawing upon literature in a wide range of disciplines including: economics of technological change, philosophy of science, environmental science and engineering, social studies of science, and history of technology. We will also rely upon the extensive literature written by scientists and engineers in their role as policy observers and advisors. While this literature tends to draws heavily on the North American and European cases, the course will strive to incorporate concerns of the developing world.

2018-2019 RES 507 Course Syllabus

RES 520: Climate Change: Science, Technology and Sustainable Development

Instructor: Milind Kandlikar & Amanda Giang

Day/Time: Fridays 2:00 - 5:00 pm

Location: TBD

Enrollment: RES Graduate Students. Non-RES graduate students or advanced undergraduates may register with instructor approval.

 

Description

This course will introduce students to the policy debates and responses created by climate change, which has emerged as the most complex environmental challenge facing the planet. On the one hand, changes in global climate are likely to have significant impacts in many parts of the world, and while a small number of regions / sectors may benefit many others could be devastated. On the other hand, reducing greenhouse gas emissions poses significant technological, economic and political challenges. Reductions of greenhouse gas gases will be made in the presence of incomplete information and continued scientific and economic uncertainty. Changes in human behaviour and technological innovations of the magnitude needed to significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions may be difficult to achieve.

2019-20 RES 520 Course Outline

RES 602: Interdisciplinary Research Design for Sustainability Impact (Doctoral)

Instructor: Kai Chan

Day/Time: Wednesdays 9:00 am - 12:00 pm

Location:  AERL 419

Enrollment: Graduate Students (or advanced undergraduates with instructor approval and completed G+PS form)

 

Description

In this course, students will learn how to turn ideas into researchable topics that are important, innovative, interesting, concrete, well-defined, and precise; how to identify appropriate research methods (qualitative and quantitative) and rules of evidence; how to map a project in relation to diverse literatures; and how to develop a research proposal. Topics include horizon scanning, methods review, research design, proactive ethics & participation, literature mapping, research questions and more.

The course will be managed adaptively towards a fundamental redesign for interdisciplinary sustainability problems (aren’t they all?). Readings will include new pieces designed for purpose, with student input (in some cases on potentially coauthored blog posts). The remaining portions of the course involve an explicit focus on students’ own research designs, which will develop in stages and be iteratively peer-assessed. Each week, we will engage in a conversation with an expert guest about their research. By the end of the class, students will complete a decent (annotated) draft of a proposal for their own thesis work.

Given the importance of understanding a wide range of research approaches, and the wide range of incoming academic and professional backgrounds among the students, much attention will be given to learning from peers and diverse faculty. This is an interactive seminar, where robust and consistent participation and attendance is expected of all students. Each week, the class may include lecture, discussions, and a range of mind-mapping, brainstorming and reflective exercises. Weekly readings will be available on Canvas.

RES 602 Course Outline *Doctoral

 

2022S Summer Session (May 2022 – August 2022)

 

No formal RES courses taught in the summer session.