The health of the environment is an urgent global concern. A wide range of biological, economic and health crises can result from the continuing loss of biological diversity. With this growing problem, there will continue to be a greater need for those that are well trained in areas of environmental biology. York’s Environmental Biology program offers you comprehensive knowledge and skills in aspects of conservation biology and environmental preservation while making key connections with areas such as human health and public policy.
The Environmental Biology program is structured to pair theoretical work with hands-on experience. Led by some of Canada’s leading environmental biologists, you will have the opportunity to engage in active field research and learn to develop and implement solutions for everyday environmental problems. You will also have the opportunity to pursue additional studies in other areas, making the program an excellent example of York’s dedication to interdisciplinary education.
The Environmental Biology program can be taken as either a three or four year degree program with a range of options for double majors and major/minor combinations. The flexible nature of this program will allow you to explore other areas of interest, such as International Development, Geography, Earth & Space Sciences, Chemistry, Sociology, Health Policy, or Environmental Studies.
The Environmental Biology curriculum is based on the biological aspect of environmental research and issues, with flexibility to explore interdisciplinary aspects such as policy, business and international development. Courses taken in this program focus on areas such as biodiversity assessment, conservation of endangered species, restoration ecology, landscape ecology, conservation genetics, ecotoxicology and invasive species biology. First year courses offer you a basic foundation in biology, chemistry, computer science, geography, earth science and math while second year courses expand on basic biology background. Upper year courses allow you to focus on certain aspects of environmental biology such as biodiversity, conservation biology, and environmental management. In your final year, a required team-taught ‘capstone’ course prepares you to be a practicing environmental biologist, exposing you to cutting-edge experimental design and new advances in methodology.
Along with your academic studies, field courses will complete the entire experience of practical work by providing you with an opportunity to conduct research at various sites such as Tanzania and Costa Rica (as well as a wide variety of local and provincial sites). Research practica are also offered to provide you with experience as part of a Biology research team. Students have the opportunity to learn about the research conducted by researchers at York while also taking part in the experimental procedures.
In fourth-year, students take part in extensive research through a thesis project. Under the supervision of a professor of your choice, you will have the opportunity to analyze and interpret results obtained from the experimentation and observation of an environmental biological question. Through this unique course, students will have the opportunity to enhance their critical analytical and communication skills.
Facilities and Opportunities
York’s Environmental Biology program offers opportunities beyond the classroom setting. Our small labs of about only 24 students allow students to effectively interact with each other and teaching assistants. The new Life Sciences Building, expected to open this summer, will house state-of-the-art undergraduate laboratories, an advising office and a learning commons. Our many strong academic support systems are available for students. The Life Sciences Help Centre offered by Normal Bethune College is available for students in first and second-year. Staffed by outstanding student peer-tutors and professors, students will learn how to navigate through difficult courses and learn new ways to approach course concepts.
Environmental Biology offers students the opportunity to prepare for a career in all areas related to environmental biology. Graduates go on to various careers in business, industry, government agencies, and schools. They work with conservation groups such as World Wildlife Fund, and government agencies such as the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources. Graduates can be found working as hydrologists, climatologists, and ornithologists. They may also pursue careers in agriculture, such ecologist, plant biologist, forester, and agronomist. The program provides a strong foundation for postgraduate studies.
If you major in Environmental Biology your courses in first year will probably be:
• Physical Geography
• Computer Use
• a general education course
In second year you will probably take:
• Statistics for Biologists
• Cell Biology and Biochemistry
• Organic Chemistry
• a general education course
Courses you might take in upper years include:
• Field Course (study plants and animals in their natural surroundings)
• Population Ecology
• Conservation Biology
• Environmental Biology
• Biology in Environmental Management
• Birds and the environment
• Quantitative methods in Biology
• Current Topics in Biological Research
• Applied Plant Ecology
• Fresh Water Biology
• Processes of Evolution
• Honours Thesis
• Environmental Biology (capstone course)
Career options for Environmental Biology majors include:
• Research – academic, government, industry
• Conservationists, Natural Resource Conservation
• Environmental consultant, Environmental Assessment and Restoration
• Public Policy, Health
• Law, Business
• Government agencies
• Zoo keepers, park naturalists, ornithologist
• Hydrologist, climatologist
• Agriculture – ecologist, plant biologist, forester, agronomist
• Postgraduate Studies/Academic Career
• Professional Schools – Medicine, Dentistry, Pharmacy, Law, Business, etc
• Education – elementary, high school, college, university