Trent University Creates Canada’s First Bachelor of Environmental Science/Studies Degree


Unique Interdisciplinary Degree Prepares Students for Environmental Work of the Future

Friday, May 1, 2009, Peterborough

Trent University has created Canada’s first Bachelor of Environmental Science/Studies (B.E.S.S.) degree, a new type of academic designation for undergraduate students interested in developing the critical skills and knowledge that truly bridge the sciences and arts aspects of the environmental field.

“Students who graduate with a B.E.S.S. degree will be well prepared to adapt to the diversity of environmental challenges in the workplace,” said Professor Tom Whillans, chair of Trent’s Environmental and Resource Studies (ERS) department. “Conceptually, the degree is a joint major between the bachelor of arts and bachelor of science streams for which we are already well-respected.”

Taken as a four-year honours single major, the B.E.S.S. is an intensive degree for exceptional students that requires full integration of science and policy, ecological and political, preventive and interventionistic approaches to environmental problems. Interested students must choose this option when applying from high school.

Described as a rigorous and progressive degree, the B.E.S.S. requires minimum performance levels in order to graduate. Students must have a minimum 75% high school grade average in order to enter the program, and must complete the first-year ERS introductory course with a minimum 75% average. In order to enter their fourth and final year of study, students must achieve a minimum 75% overall average at the end of their third year. The fourth year requires students to complete a “capstone” course that integrates their B.E.S.S. academic experience.

While this degree is pending approval from the Ministry of Colleges, Training and Universities, it is expected that the B.E.S.S. program will commence in September 2009.

Also new for 2009 is the opportunity for students to pursue Indigenous Environmental Studies (IES) as a full degree program at Trent University. Prior to this, IES was offered only as a specialization option, however, now Trent students have the option of graduating with either a Bachelor of Arts or a Bachelor of Science degree in IES. This innovative program of study uses Indigenous knowledge systems, science and information from the social and environmental sciences to explore local, regional, national and international environmental issues impacting Indigenous people.

Spring Open House at Trent University on May 2

Students interested in learning more about these new degree programs are encouraged to attend Trent’s Spring Open House on Saturday, May 2. Further information about environmental courses of study at Trent University is also available on the Environmental and Resource Studies website.


For further information, please contact Professor Tom Whillans, chair, Department of Environmental & Resource Studies at (705) 748-1011, ext. 7789.