Program Options

The Program consists of three streams: a 3.5 credit Thesis Stream; a 4.5 credit Major Research Paper Stream; and a 4.5 credit Entrepreneurship and Innovation Management (Co-op) Stream. All streams include a core course on sustainability, participation in a Student Faculty and Community Colloquium, and completion of a Research Design and Methods course. A number of elective courses are offered, in collaboration with other graduate programs at Trent, to allow students to pursue selected issues in sustainable enterprise such as strategic management, non-profit management, ethics, sustainability marketing, social enterprise and entrepreneurship with greater depth.


Program Structure and Streams

Full-time and part-time MA students may choose between the Thesis stream, the Major Research Paper stream, and the Entrepreneurship and Innovation Management (Co-op) stream. The Thesis stream requires the completion of a short scholarly monograph with multiple chapters and will be assessed by an external examiner. The candidate will defend the Thesis before a committee of at least three faculty members including the external. The Major Research Paper will be modeled on a scholarly journal article and assessed by at least one faculty member. An academic supervisor will be appointed for the Major Research Paper, Thesis, and Entrepreneurship and Innovation Management (Co-op) streams. Students will select research topics for the Major Research Paper or Thesis in consultation with their supervisor.  Co-op placements offer students practical experience alongside practicing professionals.


The three Streams for completing the MA Sustainability Studies program are summarized below:

1. Thesis

SUST 5000Y: Perspectives on Sustainability

SUST 5010/5020H: Colloquium (Pass/Fail)

SUST5002H - Research Methods

2 elective courses (total of 1.0 credit)


2. Major Research Paper

SUST 5000Y: Perspectives on Sustainability

SUST 5010/5020H: Colloquium (Pass/Fail)

SUST5002H - Research Methods

3 elective courses (total of 1.5 credits)


3. Entrepreneurship and Innovation Management (Co-op)

SUST 5000Y: Perspectives on Sustainability

SUST 5010/5020H: Colloquium (Pass/Fail)

SUST5002H - Research Methods

3 elective courses (total of 1.5 credits), including the following 2 required courses:

SUST 5600H Entrepreneurship and Innovation Management

SUST 5601Y Research and Professional Development Seminar (Pass/Fail)


Students entering the program will, in their first term of study, establish an advisory committee for their program of study.

In conjunction with their committee, students will complete a Plan of Study that would establish specific course and research expectations for completion of their degree.

For example, a student pursuing the thesis option would normally be expected to develop an adequate thesis proposal before the end of their second term of study. A student pursuing a community-based research project would be expected to establish the details of their research project before the end of their second term, in anticipation of completing this project during the summer.


*Not all courses will be available every year.

SUST 5000: Perspectives on sustainability
This course explores the roots of the concept and practice of sustainability, its role in the modern organization-driven economy, the way that we construct and communicate about the problems and potential solutions inherent to sustainability, and the theories of social innovation that are required to implement sustainability-oriented solutions.

SUST-CSID 5002H: Research methods
This course will cover two related themes: an overview of the theory and practice of selected research methodologies; and the ethical considerations of research within Canadian Studies, Indigenous Studies and Sustainability Studies.

SUST 5010H/5020H: Student faculty and community colloquium
The Student Faculty and Community Colloquium brings together students, community members, faculty, visiting scholars and experts for an intensive exploration of relevant historical, theoretical and practical issues. The Colloquium examines how we, as a global human community, can foster social equity, stimulate our economy, and still limit our impact on the natural environment. Students are expected to attend the colloquium in both the first and second years of their program.

SUST-CSID 5200H: Sustainable rural communities
A critical perspective on rural community sustainability in Western developed economies. Traces the evolving interdisciplinary conceptualizations of ‘rurality’, ‘community’ and ‘sustainability’, and their role in understanding how rural people, places and systems respond to Socio-economic and environmental change. Emphasizes how sustainability is manifest in rural and small town Canada.

SUST 5300H: Justice, ethics, sustainability and capitalism
In this course we discuss the intersection of ethics, justice and environmental sustainability within liberal-democratic corporate capitalism. We will consider theories of distributive justice and intergenerational obligation in the context of resource and sink depletion, climate change and declining bio-diversity. Open to all graduate students.

SUST-CSID 5401H-CAST 6201H: Environment and heritage: knowledge, society and the environment
This course will examine the significance of scientific and other forms of knowledge, with particular reference to the environment and sustainability. It will draw from the history and philosophy of science, science and technology studies, environmental history, political science, political ecology, postcolonial inquiry, and environmental justice. There will be a special focus on how these ideas about knowledge and society have been, and could be, applied in the Canadian context.

SUST 5450H: Perspectives and practices for organizational sustainability
This course introduces students to the “triple bottom line” approach by defining sustainability in organization as balanced progress towards economic performance, social justice, and environmental quality. This course examines strategic approaches and methods of the sustainability paradigm and the way they are framed and implemented across multiple sectors.

SUST 5600H: Entrepreneurship and Innovation Management

This course explores the many dimensions of innovation, new venture creation, and organizational growth.  It addresses content and process questions as well as with formulation and implementation issues that relate to conceptualizing, developing, and managing a successful new enterprise.  This course introduces students to essential skills, analytical tools, perspectives, and experiences that prepare them for the challenges of entrepreneurship.  Using case studies, lectures, and local entrepreneurs, students will develop an appreciation of the challenges and rewards that come from starting a new enterprise.

SUST 5601H: Research and Professional Development Seminar

This course consists of a series of intensive workshop sessions designed to help entrepreneurs and aspiring entrepreneurs develop the skills necessary to create successful, growth-oriented businesses.  It provides students enrolled in the 'Entrepreneurship and Innovation Management' stream of the Sustainability Studies Program an opportunity to compliment and build on their ongoing experiential learning during their full-time field placement during Year 2 of the Program.

SUST 5900Y, 5901H, 5902H: Reading course
A course designed to provide opportunities for intensive study by an individual student in a particular area of study. Approval of the relevant instructor and the Program Director is required.