Trinity One Students Take Classroom Learning into the Field

Posted: March 28, 2019

Trinity One Students walk across the frozen field at New Farm

Students in the Butterfield Environment & Sustainability stream of the Margaret MacMillan Trinity One Program take classroom learning into the field. At The New Farm, they learned about soil science, sustainable food systems and the environmental impact of agricultural practice.

On a sunny but chilly Saturday in March, students and faculty from the Butterfield Environment & Sustainability stream of the Margaret MacMillan Trinity One Program made their way two-hours north of Toronto to The New Farm near Creemore.

“The goal of the excursion was to provide students an engaging, real-life context in which to learn about soil science, sustainable food systems and the environmental impact of agricultural practices,” said Instructor Nicole Spiegelaar, who teaches the Trinity One Environmental Science & Pathways to Sustainability course (TRN141Y). “As with all of our outdoor field trips, we discuss the natural environment while experiencing the natural environment.”

Class trips such as this take learning into the field, introducing students to various components of sustainability that they learned over the course of the academic year. Along with a walking tour of The New Farm, which is a certified organic family farm, students learned about regenerative agricultural practices by the farm’s owners Brent Preston and Gillian Files.

Trinity One Students learn about sustainable agriculture at New FarmStudents were exposed to The New Farm’s solutions to environmental and agro-ecological challenges related to food production such as conservation, land restoration, sustainable agriculture, climate change, health and socioeconomic equity. The conversations centred on a shared a vision of food system practices that can improve our relationship with the environment and each other.

“These experiences are designed to inspire students to discuss innovative solutions in their own research proposal assignment on a current environmental sustainability issue,” said Spiegelaar, noting that during the academic year, the class also went on a series of field trips related to conservation, biodiversity and food systems – to the Koffler Scientific Reserve, local rooftop and bee gardens, and the UTSC permaculture site.

This field trip capped off a tremendously successful first year for the inaugural class enrolled in the new Butterfield Environment & Sustainability stream. The new stream takes an interdisciplinary approach that combines both the sciences and the arts, and both theoretical and practical perspectives on environmental sustainability. Students take two year-long Trinity One seminars: TRN141Y Environmental Science & Pathways to Sustainability introduces students to fundamental issues in environmental science with a multi-disciplinary focus on human impacts on physical and biological systems, and on identifying pathways to sustainability; while TRN140Y Ethics, Humans & Nature introduces students to ethical issues arising from the way humans interact with nature.

“The Trinity One Program attracts bright students who want to challenge themselves by diving into research-focused seminars right away in their first year of university,” said Prof. Michael Kessler, Raymond Pryke Chair and Director of the Trinity One program. “The Butterfield stream offers unique opportunities for students to enhance their classroom learning by seeing how academic research informs the world around us. Just as important, though, is how taking the time to connect with our world in meaningful ways can be a driver for future research into how to make things better for the planet and for society.”

The Margaret MacMillan Trinity One Program is accepting applications for the 2019-2020 academic year. Learn more at

Click here to view more photos from the field trip on March 23 to The New Farm