The Bachelor of Environmental Science/Studies (BESS) degree is one of three programs of study in the Environmental and Resource Studies program family offered by the Trent School of the Environment, the other two being Environmental and Resource Science (ERSC) and Environmental and Resource Studies (ERST). The BESS degree is unique in two ways:
First, the degree earned by students who successfully complete the Bachelor of Environmental Science/Studies degree is unique in Canada. This contrasts with the ERSC (BSc) or the ERST (BA) as it is not a science or arts degree, it is a merging of the two, requiring students to complete courses in both science and studies/arts throughout all four years. This helps students become better prepared to work on all aspects of an environmental issue.
Environmental problems are complex, and are better managed by people who have a good understanding of both the science and studies aspects of the issue. Science is used to understand the physical phenomena and their impacts, and studies/arts is used to understand how humans perceive the environmental issue and react to it- how we approach it socially, politically, economically. Both are required for a solution to an environmental problem to be realized.
The scientific component attempts to study, quantify, and model the physical, measurable phenomena, attempting to answer questions such as:
- How does it affect ecosystems?
- How have the phenomena changed over time?
- How will it change in the future?
There is also a studies or arts perspective- how human society perceives the environmental problem and its impacts, and how humans react to that perception. This involves exploring questions such as: How is this environmental issue perceived socially? Economically? Politically? What conflicts appear with what other priorities in our society? What solutions are viable?
Students who complete an BESS degree with have a grounding in both the science and studies aspects of environmental issues and resource management, and be better prepared for a variety of positions. Regardless of the job, that understanding of both aspects and how they work will result in better work and progress in solving environmental problems.
Second, the academic standards for the BESS degree are higher than for the ERSC and ERST degrees, requiring a higher entrance average. See the table below for a comparison:
|Standard||Trent Honours Degree (ERSC and ERST)||BESS|
|Minimum Overall Average in High School Final Year||70%||75%|
|Minimum Overall Average in ERSC 1010H and 1020H||60%||75%|
|Recommended Minimum Overall Average in ERSC/T courses going into 4th year to Complete a Capstone Course||60%||
This higher standard in the BESS degree ensures that students completing the Program have achieved a higher academic standard, indicating a stronger grasp of the material and better skills development when entering post-undergraduate work or studies.