ERS is now called The School of Environment, Resources and Sustainability (SERS)

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

SERS staff and Faculty

On January 1, 2016 the Department of Environment and Resource Studies in the Faculty of Environment at the University of Waterloo officially became the School of Environment, Resources and Sustainability (SERS). The change from department to school recognizes the evolution of an academic unit continually crossing disciplines to deliver transformational research and experiential learning opportunities for its students.

Are you a current or prospective student, alumni or stakeholder curious what this change means for you? Read our handy FAQ

“Since its inception more than 40 years ago the Department of Environment and Resource Studies was never a traditional environmental science program,” said Jean Andrey, dean of the Faculty of Environment. “They have always embraced interdisciplinarity, straddling and crossing lines between natural and social science, and bringing the two together in ways that are relevant to addressing complex environmental issues. Becoming the School of Environment, Resources and Sustainability is the next step in that hard-earned progression.”

The name change strategically aligns SERS with its academic peers across the country, thus sending a clear signal to prospective students (undergraduate and graduate), and others, about the comprehensive approach and opportunities available in SERS. It also enables SERS to communicate to prospective employers and students the full range of teaching, research and outreach in which they are involved.

With the designation as a school, SERS will also be better positioned to offer professional certifications or specializations such as environmental assessment and restoration. The School will also continue to leverage their commitment to experiential learning through its ecology labs, community-oriented projects, independent research and field courses.

From a branding perspective, the move from Environment and Resource Studies (ERS) to The School of Environment, Resources and Sustainability (SERS) signals its unwavering commitment to sustainability, while still benefitting from the ERS brand. 

"We chose the term 'Sustainability' because this clearly articulates our long term mission and it is meaningful to all of our stakeholders,” said Stephen Murphy, Professor and Director of SERS. “There was a strong demand that we retain the focus on Resources as well as the eponymous term Environment. Combined, the name School of Environment, Resources and Sustainability avoids imprinting a single disciplinary focus on the unit; this is important because our teaching and research eclipses disciplinary boundaries. SERS does build on several cross-cutting pillars where we are amongst the world leaders. These include environment and resource policy and governance, ecosystem conservation and restoration, environmental impact assessment. These pillars lead to our ability to educate new scholars who will enhance and create sustainable socioecological systems."

The name change arose from a two-year process of reflection and consultation with internal and external stakeholders. The process sought the advice of alumni, employers, current students (undergraduate and graduate), prospective students, faculty and staff. The clear message from all was that since the unit has always been solutions-based, the name should reflect that.

“We are a major reason why the University of Waterloo has reached the top three Canadian rankings and top 50 world rankings for environmental programs. Students are taught by top scholars in all hues of environment, resources and sustainability," said Murphy. "Those who are admitted into SERS will experience some of the finest teaching and research in the world. We wanted our name to reflect our transcendent nature."

For more information of the School of Environment, Resources and Sustainability and its new name, please contact SERS Director, Stephen Murphy. stephen.murphy@uwaterloo.ca. 519-888-4567 x35616. Location: EV2 2034.

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