The Butterfield Environment & Sustainability stream welcomed its first cohort of students for the 2018-2019 academic year. Created in close consultation with the University of Toronto’s School of the Environment, this stream will examine the most challenging issues surrounding Human beings, the planet and our future together. The Butterfield Environment & Sustainability stream will use an interdisciplinary approach that combines both the sciences and the arts. Students will learn how to think about the complexities of environmental sustainability from both theoretical and practical perspectives.
This stream is open to all incoming Faculty of Arts & Science students, however we recommend at least one senior level high school science course as preparation.
The Butterfield Environment & Sustainability stream was established thanks to the generous donation of George and Martha Butterfield and is funded by sustainable investments.
Students in the Butterfield Environment & Sustainability stream enroll in two year-long Trinity One seminar credits in their first year as part of the typical 5.0 credit load in first year.
This course introduces students to ethical issues arising from the way humans interact with nature. Students will study some theoretical approaches for evaluating how human society affects the planet, ecosystems and the other animals. Theories will be drawn from philosophy, theology and ecology, and will include Western and non-Western approaches to living in harmony with one’s environment. Key themes may include speciesism – the idea that human needs are the most important – as well as overpopulation, extinction, vegetarianism and responsible resource management. The course will also look at how social policy shapes human choices and whether sustainability initiatives should be pursued through the public or private sector. The course will also discuss the spiritual connection between humans and the environment and how society can be organized to promote access to nature in urban communities.
Breadth Requirement: 2) Thought, Belief and Behaviour + 3) Society and Its Institutions
This course 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. Key themes will include energy and resources, climate change, land use, contaminants and protecting biodiversity in the context of the Anthropocene. The course challenges students to apply the scientific method to environmental monitoring, research and problem solving through project design, data collection and analysis. The course also emphases information literacy, skills to distinguish science from pseudo-science and considerations around representation of environmental science in the media.
Breadth Requirement: 4) Living Things and Their Environment + 5) The Physical and Mathematical Universes
The Butterfield Environment & Sustainability stream provides an excellent foundation for many of the programs offered by the School of the Environment. In addition to the School’s core Environmental Science and Environmental Studies majors, students should consider the collaborative programs offered, including Environmental Ethics and Environment and Health. Students may also be interested in a directed minor, intended for students looking to acquire environmental knowledge in a specific discipline, or one of the environmental programs offered by other University of Toronto departments such as Environmental Biology or Environmental Chemistry.
The Butterfield Environment & Sustainability stream’s interdisciplinary emphasis also helps students prepare for a variety of Humanities and Social Science programs. Students may be interested in pursuing studies in Philosophy, Political Science, International Relations, or Public Policy.
Environmentalism, politics, humanitarian crises and climate change are all wrapped up in one!
I love how the Butterfield Environment & Sustainability stream will not shy away from teaching the complex, interwoven nature of environment and social justice issues.
- Nathan Postma, 4th Year Environmental Studies Major