PhD in Social and Ecological Sustainability

University of Waterloo

Date Posted: Oct. 31, 2016
Submitted by: Julian Dautremont-Smith
Sustainability Topic: Curriculum
Content Type: Academic Programs
Program Type: Doctoral Degree
Distance: Local Only
Commitment: Full-Time


The PhD program in School of Environment, Resources and Sustainability (SERS) is devoted to understanding and pursuing sustainability in a dynamic and complex world, and to considering and integrating understanding across disciplines and scales from the organism to the planet.

Three broad conceptual themes guide the design and delivery of the SERS PhD program:

  • Assessing the theoretical foundations and practical implications of progress towards sustainable societies, and application of this analysis as a broad context for specific work in particular situations;
  • Understanding socio-ecological interrelations as dynamic complex systems vulnerable to being over-stressed by human activities; and
  • Examining conventional and alternative social arrangements, including institutions and governance, as means of improving human wellbeing and environmental responsibility.

Within this general orientation, faculty and student research can be focused on quite specific topics but always with attention to the larger context of social and ecological systems and to the normative sustainability objectives within which the topics are embedded. Students pursue topics of particular interest to them, with guidance from faculty members and other people with appropriate experience.

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