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TRN141Y1: Environmental Science & Pathways to Sustainability


This course makes environmental science exciting, accessible and personally transformative, regardless of your Program of Study! You won’t be tested on your ability to memorize decontextualized facts. Instead, you will enrich your understanding of the fascinating phenomena that maintain life on earth and the processes that are degrading it; and gain knowledge and skills to do something about it.

We look at science as a tool for observing, measuring and analyzing the environment – situating it in meaningful social, economic and cultural contexts. You will develop an integrated sustainability lens that can be applied to any degree.

We engage with applied issues through hands-on activities and seminar discussions, which make science and interdisciplinary concepts easier to understand. The course advances students in preparation for integrated research with a literature review, research design and creative science communication – all motivated by the joy of exploration, discovery and advocacy.

Breadth Requirement: 0.5 FCE 4) Living Things and Their Environment + 0.5 FCE 5) The Physical and Mathematical Universes


  • Technical Papers
  • Discussion Posts
  • Reflections
  • Presentations
  • Debate
  • Participation

Note: assignments can vary from year to year


  • Understanding of using scientific methods and data analysis in research
  • A broad understanding of environmental science and sustainability
  • Reading academic research papers
  • Writing technical papers and reports
  • Interpersonal skills


How should I prepare for this course?

You are not expected to have any prior knowledge of the course. You may, however, conduct research into topics of your interest. You can refer to the course syllabus once it is available for a description of the course and topics, course structure, and important deadlines.

What should I know before starting this course?

This course delves into fundamental issues in environmental science and takes an interdisciplinary approach to understanding the impact of humans on the biological world. Topics like climate change, renewable energy, and sustainable farming are explored in the course. There will be many more topics discussed in TRN141! This is a great introductory course in environmental science and sustainability. Do not worry if you are unfamiliar with environmental science as this course will guide you through countless topics and environmental issues. You will further explore pathways to sustainability, such as how sustainability can be applied to various components of our lives.

How is the course structured?

The course consists of readings, lectures, in-class activities, reflections, and written assignments. You will engage in discussions and be able to share your perspectives on various topics. Most discussions draw upon your knowledge and thoughts on the readings. Moreover, you will learn about the scientific method and have the opportunity to apply the knowledge in a research proposal.



Nicole SpiegelaarNicole Spiegelaar

Associate Director, Trinity’s Integrated Sustainability Initiative

Email: nicole.spiegelaar@utoronto.ca

Nicole Spiegelaar is an Assistant Professor with Trinity College and the School of the Environment, the Associate Director of Trinity’s Sustainability Initiative and a faculty lead on the Trinity Food Systems Lab and the Sustainability Pedagogy Community of Practice. She is most passionate about complex adaptive systems theory and interdisciplinary knowledge integration to address sustainability challenges.

Her recent research looks at the natural environment as a setting and systems-model for mental wellness and is informed by Indigenous Knowledges of the James Bay Cree, Environmental Psychology and Ecosystems Science.  Nicole applies this to sustainability programming, where interdisciplinary experiential learning and complexity not only provide students with critical skills to address global sustainability issues, they promote sustainable behaviour and foster student psycho-social resiliency in uncertain times.


Contact Us:

Susan He
Program Coordinator, Margaret MacMillan Trinity One


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