Formed in 1969, the Faculty of Environment was the first of its kind in Canada. Today, we’re the fastest growing Faculty at the University of Waterloo.

Sustainability has been central to our mission since the Faculty’s inception. We take a leadership role in greening the campus and in advocating for sustainability policies and practices at local, national and international levels.

Notable initiatives include:

  • Greening the Campus: A course that has been offered in the School of Environment, Resources and Sustainability (SERS) for nearly 40 years.
  • Robert Starbird Dorney Garden: Transformation of campus lawn into a native-species garden, initiated in 1987.
  • Residential Energy Efficiency Project (REEP): A partnership that has delivered over 20,000 home energy evaluations, was awarded the Ministry of Environment Award for Environmental Excellence in 2011 and has retrofitted the REEP house to LEED ® Platinum.
  • Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC): Eight faculty members served as authors, or expert reviewers to IPCC’s 4th Assessment Report — co-recipient of the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize.

A bike leaning on a bike rack in front of Environment 1 (EV1) building.

Our defining strengths

By design, our approach in both research and pedagogy is highly interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary, integrating the natural and social sciences, policy and business in ways that address pressing environmental problems and issues.

  • Our Faculty contributes in significant ways to four of the University’s key areas of differentiation identified in the Strategic Mandate Agreement between the University and the Ontario Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities: “environment/biological systems”, “x and business”, “governance” and “health and well-being”. We are also poised to play a leadership role in the proposed program area of growth, “social innovation, entrepreneurship and sustainability”.
  • The University of Waterloo Strategic Plan recognizes the strengths in the Faculty: “Within the Faculty of Environment, interdisciplinary groups collaborate with other Faculties to solve climate change, water, energy, food systems, ecological restoration, and urban planning issues through science and policy” (University’s Strategic Plan 2013, page 21).

Our experiential approach to education provides unique opportunities for integrative learning, preparing tomorrow’s graduates to think laterally and work collaboratively in order to better understand, adapt to, and engage with the complex, rapidly changing world that awaits them.

Since the last strategic plan

The previous strategic plan for Environment, “Smart Green Solutions”, outlined an ambitious growth agenda for the five-year period beginning in 2007. This growth plan was justified by the increasing demand for graduates with environmental degrees as well as the planned implementation or expansion of several undergraduate and graduate programs in targeted areas including aviation, environment and business, environmental science, geomatics, global governance, international development, knowledge integration, social innovation, and water resources.

Since 2007, the Faculty has delivered...

Chart showing 186% increase in number of undergraduate students, 238% increase in coop students, 190% increase in graduate students, 100% increase in international students, 253% increase in research fundings, and 164% increase in faculty members.

Innovation in academic programs


  • 2+2 joint education program with universities in China
  • BES in Geography and Aviation
  • BES in Geomatics
  • MA and PhD in Global Governance


  • BES in International Development
  • Bachelor of Knowledge Integration (BKI)
  • MSc in Geography and Environmental Management


  • PhD in Social and Ecological Sustainability
  • Founding of the School of Environment, Enterprise and Development


  • Master of Environment and Business (MEB)


  • Master’s Diploma in Social Innovation


  • Master of Development Practice (MDP) in International Development


  • Master of Climate Change (MCC)
  • MES in Sustainability Management
  • MA, MES and PhD in Integrated Water Management