Vancouver Summer Program

The Vancouver Summer Program (VSP) is a four-week academic program for international undergraduate students. The program provides the opportunity to take two academic courses while learning about Canadian practices and culture.


Click here to view the IRES VSP 2022 Program Brochure.


The 2020 program fee is CAD $5,450 and includes:

  • Course materials and tuition for two courses
  • Shared accommodation on UBC campus
  • Medical insurance
  • Transportation by shuttle bus to and from airport (during peak hours)
  • Vancouver city tour
  • Orientation and farewell events
  • Social activities (some activities may require an additional fee)

*Times Higher Education’s “World’s Most International Universities 2017” ranking

Note: Students are responsible for the cost of food and transportation around the city, as well as any other personal expenses they may incur.

June to July, 2022

  • Package A - Food for a Healthy and Sustainable Planet (IRES A JUNE)
  • Package B - Sustainable Futures (IRES B JUNE)

July to August, 2022

  • Package A - Climate Change, Energy and Society (IRES A JULY)

Schedules vary depending on the package selected. Typically, classes are held 5 days a week from Monday to Friday.

Example of a typical schedule:

9:00am – 12:00pm | Morning class

12:00pm – 1:00pm | Lunch break

1:00pm - 4:00pm | Afternoon class

Accommodation and residence details can be found on the UBC Vancouver Summer Program website.

Take a virtual tour of UBC!

The IRES VSP includes organized social and cultural activities, which are a great opportunity to make friends with other VSP students from around the world, as well as local UBC students! Additionally, these activities are opportunity to learn more about Vancouver and Canadian culture.

Example activities include:

  • Welcome event and Orientation
  • UBC campus tour
  • Vancouver city tour
  • Sports day
  • Pizza night
  • Board game night
  • Museums
  • Farewell event

Optional weekend trips to the following locations may also be organized:

*additional fees may be required

The IRES VSP includes approximately 39 hours of class time. Courses are directed and taught by UBC faculty members. Classes are interactive and may include group discussions, guest lecturers, research projects, laboratory experimentation, and short fieldtrips.

Courses do not received UBC credit but course credit may be granted by the student’s home university (at its discretion).

Note: Many course packages have a minimum and maximum class size, so we encourage you to register your students early. Course packages that do not have the minimum number of students will not be offered, but students may transfer to other packages.

Package A: Sustainable Futures (IRES A June)

Analyzing Ecology, the Environment and You

Ecosystems and the benefits they provide to people lie at the heart of many sustainability issues such as food security, energy production, corporate environmental responsibility, and resource management. Often time, these are not reflected by management and policy approaches. Students in this course will gain expertise on human impacts on ecosystems, the processes by which ecosystems render benefits for people (ecosystem services), methods for analyzing impacts and benefits, and the ways that individuals and organizations incorporate such information into their decision-making. Through field trips to a range of ecosystem types, lectures, and exposure to innovative organizations in the public and private sector, this course will consider the opportunity for innovative progress towards sustainability from stronger and deeper ecological grounding. Students will learn how they can support this type of progress in their careers and day-to-day lives.

Decision-making about Oceans in the 21st Century

In this course, simulations and workshops will help students consider the variety of stakeholders involved in decision-making related to ocean conservation. You will be trained to tackle our rapidly changing global environment and the often conflicting role of oceans in biodiversity conservation, food security, climate change, and ecosystem services to humans. This course provides an overview into ocean conservation issues and in-depth skill-building via field trips that cover a variety of ocean issues, as well as guest lectures from and/or visits to organizations that are innovating solutions to components of these challenges in a variety of ways. Content, discussion, and exposure to experts and research and strategies will equip and empower students to better understand and become more engaged in ocean issues, no matter how close they are to a coast.

Package A: Climate Change, Energy and Society (IRES A July)

Climate Change: Causes, Consequences and Adaptation

Climate change resulting from the use of fossil fuels in the global energy system is perhaps the single greatest collective challenge facing society in the 21st century. Acting on climate change will dramatically alter the global economy and job creation sectors. As a student you need to be prepared for employment opportunities associated with climate change. In this course, students will learn the science behind human induced climate change, and examine possible consequences and impacts across the world. You will study how experts make predictions of future climate change and its impacts, and how societies will need to re-organize their economies and institutions to adapt to new climate realities. This hands-on course includes field trips and presentations from industry guests, giving students the chance to communicate directly with experts working in the field.

Energy for Sustainable Development

Globally, large-scale innovation in energy systems are needed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Technological and business innovations have begun to transform the global energy system. You will learn from experts about the development of renewables such as solar and wind, the deployment of electric vehicles, and the diffusion of new ‘mundane’ technologies like improved cook stoves in the developing world. You will build your ability to communicate with professionals about what is driving these innovations, how might their promise be reached and their benefits be maximized, and what social and policy efforts are needed to sustain them. This hands-on course includes field trips and presentations from both governmental and non-governmental employees, giving students the chance to communicate directly with industry experts.

Package B: Food for a Healthy and Sustainable Planet (IRES B July)

Sustainable Food and Farming Systems

In this course, lectures and assignments will incorporate data science allowing students to understand how experts use quantitative techniques in sustainable farming solutions. Our food and farming systems are one of the greatest causes of global environmental problems. Agriculture is responsible for continued deforestation, biodiversity loss, greenhouse gas emissions, depletion of freshwater resources, and water pollution. You will be given an overview of global agriculture (spatial distribution of crops and livestock, irrigation and fertilizer use), its historical evolution, environmental consequences, socio-economic dimensions (who/where are farmers, land tenure, labour, food sovereignty, right to food, access to food), and some proposed solutions for addressing these challenges. Students will uncover stories on what the data tells us about sustainable intensification, organic farming, agroecology, genetically modified foods, smallholder systems, and supply chains.

Sustainable Diets and Nutrition

This course emphasizes analytic and communications skills that will enable students to participate in contemporary sustainability debates. Nearly 1 in 7 people today remain undernourished, while 2 billion are malnourished. Students interested in public health, global health, medicine and health systems management will learn why a nutritious diet is critical to raising the quality of life of a large section of the world’s population. Students will learn the fundamentals of health education and communication, regarding concepts such as calorie calculation versus nutrition, dietary diversity, macro vs micro nutrients, vegetarian/vegan diets, food safety, and the relationship between diets, human health, and planetary health. Students will also become familiar with systemic strategies and policy issues, such as the role of dietary shifts as a critical pathway toward meeting the United Nations Sustainable Development goals.


Please click here to see the eligibility requirements.

For registration and payment, please see the UBC Vancouver Summer Program website.

Nivretta Thatra
IRES Special Projects Coordinator