Core Course Descriptions

Students in the CLEN program will benefit from core courses designed to provide them with progressively integrated views of climate and environment themes and concepts. Below are descriptions of each course. Since climate and environment are dynamic fields in which new discoveries and sites of interest are constantly being unearthed, these descriptions may be updated from time to time so that students receive an education that is up-to-date.


Year 1- Scientific Processes

Fall Semester: CLEN 101- Introduction to the Climate System

This course is an introduction to the Climate System providing an overview of the formation of the Earth and its ocean and atmosphere. The course introduces the physical, chemical, and biological processes that generate planetary climate, and the flow of energy and matter through the Earth system. Specifically, the course focuses on understanding the processes determining Earth’s climates and how the present planetary energy imbalance affects the dynamics of the climate system. Global warming and growing human influence on the Earth system are introduced. The course is aimed at students who are new to the study of Climate.  An assignment in the course is linked to the mandatory CLEN lecture series that will help bring in social and or humanistic viewpoints on the topic of climate, including for example a lecture on the history of climate change.

Winter Semester: CLEN 102- Introduction to Environmental Systems

Human activities disrupt the natural physical, chemical and biological processes within the atmosphere, biosphere, hydrosphere and lithosphere. Understanding the scientific processes that drive and move material through these planetary ‘spheres’ provides the necessary background for tackling many of the complex environmental issues society currently faces. This course is designed to introduce students to environmental processes, with an emphasis upon environmental contamination, and to review the scientific background necessary to address scientifically complex and diverse issues associated with environmental change.  This course introduces students to the global environmental systems and processes necessary to address scientifically complex and diverse issues associated with environmental change.  Through the study of interconnected global biogeochemical, atmospheric, landscape scale, and hydrological processes, students will learn about the science that underpins many environmental issues associated with resource availability and contamination. Case studies will be used to illustrate concepts, and students will develop an understanding of the fundamentals of environmental measurement, and an introduction to major groups of environmental contaminants. Similar to CLEN 101, this course will include assignments on the organized lecture series providing social and or humanistic viewpoints on the topic of environment, including for example a lecture on the concept of two-eyed seeing in Indigenous knowledge framework.


Year 2- Understanding Climate and Environment Contexts

Fall Semester: CLEN 201- Climate change and people: issues, interventions, citizen-led actions, and solutions

Conducted from a global perspective, this course is intended for students who wish to broaden their understanding of the present and future impacts of climate change on societies, including the social justice elements of the issues. The course also focuses on the interventions that are being made to combat the impacts of climate change – from global policies to community-level actions. Students will be equipped to articulate the world-wide impacts of climate change, how it impacts people at a community level, and how citizen led action can lead to positive change.


Winter Semester: CLEN 202- Understanding Climate Change

An understanding of the impacts of climate change has become crucial for areas of governance, business, engineering and diverse fields of science. This course will provide students with a qualitative understanding of natural and human caused climate change and climate models as well as an understanding of uncertainty in future climate change and limitations to model simulations. The human drivers of climate change and impacts of climate change to many aspects of human societies will be explored.  


Year 3- Climate and Environment Policy and Management

Fall Semester: CLEN 301- Introduction to Science Policy and Science-Based Public Policy Decision-Making

This course introduces students to concepts, approaches, and trends associated with science policy and science-based policy making using a focus on climate and environment issues to help provide practical examples. Students will learn about science policy primarily from a Canadian perspective, although international comparative perspectives will be used to highlight differences or similarities between Canada and other countries, as well as introduce key international science-policy dialogues and decision-making processes (particularly related to climate and environment).  Students will discuss and analyze science-policy decisions or issues with a focus on climate and environment-related examples and case studies. This course will give students an introduction to the roles that science and scientists play in addressing public policy issues within government.  Students will learn about the ways that science is contested in public policy decision-making, as well as discuss issues such as Indigenous knowledge in the policy process, science advocacy, science-based risk assessment, risk management, the precautionary principle, media coverage, economic cost-benefit analysis and how these apply to science-based public policy decisions made by government. 


Winter Semester: CLEN 302/ BSAD 472- Environmental Sustainability for Organizations

Managing change effectively is essential to the long-term survival of an organization, and smart organizations adapt to changing demands and responsibilities.  This course explores how corporations and other types of organizations (NGOs etc) respond to issues of climate change and environmental degradation. This includes initiatives undertaken within the firm, as well as initiatives pursued outside the firm (such as through partnerships). Case studies draw from different sectors and different organizational types. This course takes an objective view, which is important as CLEN graduates might work for, regulate, or be lobbied by, organizations.


Year 4- Knowledge Mobilization

Fall Semester: CLEN 401- Strategies for Addressing Climate and Environmental Issues

This course provides students with the tools and strategies necessary to solve problems in Climate and Environment. Through case studies students will learn about best practices for addressing interdisciplinary problems in climate and environment. Students will then apply these principles to develop and workshop a proposal. This course is offered only for students in the Climate and Environment program. 


Winter Semester: CLEN 402- Addressing Climate and Environmental Issues –Senior Practicum

The Senior Practicum capstone course for students in the Climate and Environment program is designed to empower students with interdisciplinary and skills to deploy ideas.  In this course, interdisciplinary groups of students will work to launch initiatives and take a project from conception to an outcome.  The students will work closely with faculty advisors, and in some cases other outside experts, to define goals, methods, outcomes, and indicators of success.