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The SSS program is an "Interfaculty" program between the Arts and Sciences, offered in close partnership between Geography and the McGill School of Environment, and involving other departments at McGill.

The program will provide the inter-disciplinary and integrative knowledge and skills required to understand and address the sustainability challenge in its multiple dimensions. It is built upon three pillars:
1) Science and Technology, to provide an in-depth understanding of the underpinnings of the problems of concern (i.e, the '
what');
2) Economics, Policy, and Governance, to understand
how we can make the Sustainability transition; and
3) Ethics, Equity, and Justice, to discuss
why we need change, and the issues of equity and justice associated with taking action.

The courses in the SSS program will cover all 3 pillars. In particular, the following 3 integrative courses will provide an overarching foundation for the entire program.

ENVR 201 (Fall) Society, Environment, and Sustainability
GEOG 360 (Winter) Analyzing Sustainability
GEOG 460 (Fall) Research in Sustainability

ENVR 201 is the introductory course to the program. GEOG 360 and 460 are new courses, designed explicitly for the SSS program. GEOG 360 will equip students with the analytical approaches to dealing with issues in Sustainability, using case studies. GEOG 460 will be the capstone course where students will synthesize their understanding through hands-on research.

ENVR 201. Society, Environment, and Sustainability (Taught in the Fall semester by Prof. Madhav Badami on the downtown campus, and by Prof. Elena Bennett and colleagues on the MacDonald campus)
This course deals with how scientific-technological, socio-economic, political-institutional and behavioural factors mediate society-environment interactions. Issues discussed include population and resources; consumption, impacts and institutions; integrating environmental values in societal decision-making; and the challenges associated with, and strategies for, promoting sustainability. Case studies in various sectors and contexts are used.

GEOG 360. Analyzing Sustainability (Taught in the Winter semester by Profs. Jeanine Rhemtulla and Navin Ramankutty)
Examines challenges to sustainability through a series of case studies to illustrate the analytical approaches used to understand the linkages between scientific-technological, socio-economic, political-institutional, ethical, and human behavioural aspect of systems. Includes cases that are thematic and place-based, national and international, spanning from the local to global scales.

GEOG 460. Research in Sustainability (Taught in the Fall semester by Prof. Brian Robinson)
Through engaging in real-world sustainability challenges through hands-on research, learn to critically analyze problems that arise at the interface of multiple disciplines including the scientific-technological, socio-economic, political-institutional, ethical, and human behavioural. Develop an understanding of the leverages and road blocks in achieving a sustainability transition.

Click here for the official McGill calendar where you can find more detailed course information


Program Level Learning Outcomes

Students in the Sustainability, Science, and Society Program will....

1. Gain a critical understanding of the concept of sustainability, its contested meanings, multiple dimensions, perspectives and scales.

2. Gain an in-depth understanding of a specific set of sustainability challenges, including the interconnection between the three pillars of SSS, scales of those challenges, and relationship to personal choices.

3. Acquire hands-on experience with a suite of analytical tools used to address sustainability challenges.

4. Recognize that, while analysis is useful, it has limits, and avoid “analysis paralysis”

5. Gain an understanding of institutional approaches to inform effective policy making and implementation

6. Will learn to shine a light, instead of cursing the darkness, and offer feasible alternatives to the status-quo.

7. Appreciate the role of science in society and also that societal decision making involves multiple perspectives and factors that go beyond science.

8. Be able to persuasively communicate ideas, orally and in writing, to multiple audiences.