Welcome!  This site is a working document.  Please visit often for updates on where we are in the development of a sustainability pathway/concentration for undergraduates at UBC.

Contact Shona Ellis (shona@mail.ubc.ca) for more information or to provide comments.

Initial Mission:

Students in UBC’s Biology Program develop knowledge and skills to prepare them to interpret, evaluate, investigate and communicate about the natural world.  The mission of the Sustainability Pathway is to provide an opportunity for students to pursue a sustainability focus in conjunction with their development as biologists.  This concentration will incorporate courses developed specifically about sustainability as well as those that address elements of sustainability attributes and pillars.   Students will be able to complete a significant amount of degree requirements with sustainability electives as well as gain application experience through real-world options and a project-based Capstone course.  They will graduate equipped and motivated to address the challenges in our complex and changing world.


The University of British Columbia is committed to providing its 47,000 students (~38,000 undergraduates) the opportunity to study sustainability. Achieving balanced coverage of this interdisciplinary topic requires coordination and collaboration between departments, faculties, and the community.   UBC biology is currently working on developing a sustainability pathway that students can take as a concentration.  Developing a robust program is challenging due to the size of the institution, diversity of programming, and integrative nature of the topic.  The Biology Sustainability Committee, CTLT (Centre for Teaching. Learning, and Technology), CLI (Community Learning Initiative), and the USI (UBC Sustainability Initiative) are also working together to develop workshops to help faculty integrate sustainability into their courses.

We received Teaching and Learning Enhancement Funding which has helped to kick off the project.  Additional funds have come from the Faculty of Science (Skylight Grant).

The principal objectives of this project were to:

  • Develop a sustainability pathway for students in biology that integrates the three pillars of sustainability and addresses graduate attributes (2010, 2013) as outlined by the USI Teaching and Learning Office.
  • Use the USI’s attributes to develop learning objectives for the sustainability pathway.
  • Identify courses currently offered that support the pathway.
  • Identify and evaluate sustainability initiatives at other institutions.
  • Determine if additional course development is required to support sustainability teaching and learning.
  • Develop an interdisciplinary capstone course.
  • Develop graphics and mindmaps to assist comprehension on sustainability.
  • Explore ways to administer a pathway (minor in sustainability studies, concentration, etc).
  • Establish partnerships with other groups on campus including UBC Community Learning Initiative, SEEDS, Go Global, COOP, and Let’s Talk Science.
  • Develop a pathway model other units can adopt.
  • Develop an advising website and network for students pursuing a focus/concentration in sustainability.