Interdisciplinary Research

The University of Waterloo Strategic Plan recognizes the Faculty of Environment’s role in interdisciplinary research: “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, 21).  

Indeed, since its inception as the Division of Environmental Studies in 1969, it has been “unique in its outlook … [concentrating] on all modes of knowledge needed to attack one particular problem area, that of man and his environment” (University of Waterloo Academic Calendar 1970-1971). 

Its academic programs have advanced beyond the limited scope of man and environment to provide a more fully-integrated mission: “By design, our approach in both research and pedagogy is highly interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary, integrating natural and social sciences, policy and business in ways that address pressing environmental problems and issues” (Faculty of Environment Strategic Plan, 2013-2018). 

The Faculty of Environment’s approach to research and pedagogy arises from and is reinforced by the academic backgrounds of our faculty complement.  Approximately one-half of our faculty members have degrees in more than one discipline, and the 270 degrees that our faculty members have earned represent many different fields of study, as illustrated below.

Interdisciplinary Pie Chart

Degrees earned by Faculty of Environment faculty members

Political Science — 24

Other Arts — 25

Health — 3

Engineering — 27

Computer Science — 2

Human Geography — 63

Biology and Ecology — 29

Physics, Chemistry and Atmospheric Science — 11

Physical Geography and Geomatics — 33

Environmental Studies
and Resource Management — 18

Planning — 26

Business and Economics — 9