Environment & Society

The future of climate governance begins in this stream, where we introduce tomorrow’s environmental leaders to the ecological, social, political, and cultural knowledge needed to rise to the challenges of climate change.

Environmental crisis is one of the major interdisciplinary problems of our time. This means it takes great thinkers in all areas, from environmental studies to history, geography, political sciences, and the arts to address issues such as global warming, ecological injustice, climate migration, and fast fashion. In this stream, students will be introduced to the fascinating histories of how we arrived at this global tipping point, as well as to the newest research leading us toward more sustainable, equitable futures.

I chose the Coordinated Arts Program because it immersed me in a small yet diverse student group to collaborate and discuss a wide range of contemporary topics of global citizenship, while linking ideas between different discourses. My year in CAP consolidated my decision to major in international relations.

Lauren Shykora
intended major International Relations

This stream is new for September 2024!

Previous versions of this stream, under different names (People and Planet; Globalization, Power and Society; Global Citizens), have included some different courses. Students interested in taking Sociology, for example, will now find that course in the Individual and Society stream. We’re excited to kick-off the latest version of this stream which has been created to directly address urgent questions around climate, globalization, culture, and politics.

Courses: Term One

In their first term, students will enrol in CAP 100 (their writing course) as well as Environmental Studies, and Political Science. Students will learn how the environment and politics play a role in our globalized lives in relation to issues of power, government, consumption, inequality, race, and representation, among others–as well as gain a foundation for learning to read and write at the university level.

This course provides an interdisciplinary foundation for academic writing and related research communicative practices within an interactive learning environment. Students will choose the section that best suits their scheduling needs and academic interests.

The demographic, economic, ecological, and technological factors that underlie current environmental challenges, considering their effects to date and their possible impact in the future. Credit will only be granted for one of GEOG 211 or ENST 211.

Political issues and case studies, drawn from Canadian and international contexts, will be used to introduce students to central debates and concepts of politics and political analysis.


Courses: Term Two

In their second term, students will take CAP 101 along with Geography, and History. They will learn about our globalizing and modernizing world and about how the environment shapes history. They will consider how literature, culture, media and language play a part in both shaping and resisting the structures of our world.

This course applies research and writing skills learned in CAP 100 to literary, cultural, and/or media analysis. The topics and readings integrate the stream theme (“Environment and Society”). Students will stay with the same instructor and small group of students from CAP 100 and may develop projects started in that course.

Think globally and act locally has been a staple of environmentalism since the early 1970s. What does it mean to think globally, and historically, about the environment? How have global historical processes like industrialization, urbanization, and the agricultural revolution affected local environments? Local and individual actions have long played out in a global context. We will focus in particular on interrelated developments in climate, agriculture, energy, and cities.

Through readings, writing, research, and discussion, we will examine the connection of global and local environments. Case studies will include historical responses to climate change in Europe and North America, the transformation of indigenous foodways, histories of environmental justice, and the urban development of Vancouver. By the end of the course, students will have an understanding of the dynamic and complex place of the environment in world history, of interdisciplinary approaches to historical thinking, and of the ways in which their own lives are embedded in the history we will be exploring.

This course is an introduction to human geography, and to the history and present character of our globalizing world. Overall, the course seeks to interpret geographically and historically globalization, its consequences, regional expressions, and reactions against it. The course is divided into five main blocks, each one concerned with the history and human geography of a different substantive theme critical to shaping our present global world.


Sample Projects

Archival Research in UBC's Rare Books and Special Collections
Students spend one week examining readers’ responses to Joy Kogawa’s Obasan, a semi-autobiographical novel about the treatment of Japanese-Canadians during and after World War II. Students analyze these readers’ responses in relation to an argument by a literary scholar, and present their research findings in the form of a short paper. This project aims to help students understand how academics conduct primary research to produce new knowledge.

Global stories of belonging
For this assignment, the CAP classes partner with the City of Vancouver (in a project supported by CityStudio Vancouver and UBC’s Centre for Community Engaged Learning), to explore what civic engagement looks like. Students explore spaces in their own cities, discussing in small groups what factors impacted their sense of belonging in that space. They research public stories about the space, and they have conversations with people in their communities. Ultimately, each student produces a story about a social issue related to the space they have researched. In 2021, we created a multimedia map students’ to share experiences of belonging around the globe.


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