SERS: Research That Matters.

Hand holding frogOur strength as a research-intensive department and a source of our innovation is a willingness to go beyond disciplines and do research that is driven by challenges we face today.
Our research starts with curiosity and leads to action on ecological and social sustainability. For the School of Environment, Resources and Sustainability (SERS) students, research staff, and professors, our research focuses on ambitious solutions to sustainability challenges at local to global scales.
Research projects in SERS are well-funded by all sectors committed to creating socioecological systems that lead to a more sustainable world, including government, non-governmental organizations, and the private sector (e.g., environmental consulting firms).

SERS has 3 pillars of research that are consistent with our School mission:

  1. Developing and critically examining environmental policy tools and multi-level governance strategies that foster equity, collaboration and prospects for transformative change in fresh water and ocean ecosystems, food systems, and energy resources
  2. Advancing ideas, techniques, and initiatives in the natural and physical sciences for ecological restoration and conservation.  We focus on ecological function and diversity within both the domain of parks and protected areas and in the many human dominated ecosystems influenced by urbanization, forestry and agriculture
  3. Devising effective approaches to the ethics, assessment, politics and practice of sustainability and resilience. SERS is particularly focused on problems of environmental and social justice in relation to marginalized communities, and the implications of biophysical 'limits to growth' for the  idea of a progressive, globally connected society.

Four cross-cutting principles to guide our research:

  • SERS requires we have a substantive grounding in the natural, social, and physical sciences; we recognize the value of disciplinary knowledge, learning, and skill building in research.
  • SERS is committed to going beyond the confines of disciplines because research in environment and resource sustainability demands transdisciplinary and collaborative approaches.  SERS emphasises the policy and governance context in which actions for socioecological sustainability occur.
  • SERS is committed to stakeholder involvement – citizens, private sector and governments - because our research is designed to be relevant and used by these stakeholders to effect positive change.
  • SERS embraces systems-thinking to address the complexity and uncertainty of the sustainability challenges we face.

These principles make our research intellectually robust, socially relevant, and used by decision makers from local communities through to international organizations.

See what research in SERS is all about:

Read the SERS' research stories, in which you will see how our research activities help improve our world.

Whether you are a potential undergraduate or graduate student, examine our professors’ research interest. See what you can do.

SERS is home to major research chairs, Directors of research centres, and Directors of Canadian research and policy networks.

See how our world class researchers work collaboratively with others – both inside and outside of the university, locally and globally, by leading or making key contributions to UW research centers and research groups.

Share our pride in research projects by SERS students:

Our graduate students’ Masters and PhD research projects have won major scholarships and awards – including the NSERC André Hamer Postgraduate Prize as the most outstanding doctoral candidate in Canada.  We attract amazing students.  Visit our graduate student pages to see their game-changing theses and major research projects.

Research skills are vital to employment and educational quality so we emphasize this early and often in our undergraduate and graduate programs.  Our students have many opportunities to hone their research skills throughout their programs, giving them a competitive advantage. They learn why research is important to solve local-global issues.  And they learn why research skills are highly valued by employers in need of individuals with the capacity to independently analyze, critique, synthesize and communicate important ideas and outcomes. See their stories and some of their theses.  Aim high if you choose SERS for your degree.

We encourage you to contact individual SERS professors about their research. The School director, Prof. Stephen Murphy, can provide strategic and summative information.