York unveils new Faculty of Environmental and Urban Change

Students learning outside with the faculty of environmental and urban change. (Courtesy of York, yFile)

On Monday, August 31, York unveiled the new Faculty of Environmental and Urban Change (EUC), bringing together the previous Faculty of Environmental Studies and the Geography Department. The faculty hopes to produce environmental leaders, while tackling the most prominent global challenges of today.

Significant environmental changes across the globe have brought together some of York’s top minds. 

“We are united in a call to action responding to some of the most pressing challenges facing people and the planet,” says Dean Alice Hovorka. “We believe that transitions to a just and sustainable future require our urgent and collective attention.”

The creation of the faculty is meant to bridge the gap between two challenges facing the planet: environmental change and urbanization. Scientists and scholars at the EUC are conducting research on issues including the climate crisis, loss of biodiversity, and intensive urbanization, as well as how these issues will affect all of society.

“Essentially, the Faculty of Urban and Environmental Change is centred around exploring the interwoven relationship between physical environments and the broader superstructures impacting or changing these environments,” says the Bachelor of Environmental Studies Student Association (BESSA) in a statement to Excalibur.

      Students of the EUC will also have new opportunities for placements in government, industry, and society organizations, as well as experiential education opportunities.

“This new Faculty of Environmental and Urban Change is believed to be the first faculty of its kind in the world,” says Yanni Dagonas, York’s deputy spokesperson. “It brings together a critical mass of physical geographers, ecologists, social scientists, humanities researchers and artists, whose innovative, world-renowned research addresses natural, built and social spaces from a global perspective.”

Another unique aspect of the new faculty is its interdisciplinary focus. One of its brand new program offerings is a degree in environmental arts and justice. This degree is said to address environmental issues through political, philosophical, artistic, cultural and educational lenses. 

“This interdisciplinary and collaborative approach will help create positive change by helping society tackle its most complex challenges, while training the change leaders who will put solutions into practice,” says Dagonas.

The environmental arts and justice program, as well as the environmental sciences, global geography, sustainable environmental management, and urban studies programs are officially launching in fall 2021. 

Students of the EUC will also have new opportunities for placements in government, industry, and society organizations, as well as experiential education opportunities.

The merger between the previous Faculty of Environmental Studies and the department of geography has resulted in some changes for the community. Changes are in store for the student groups that represented them, including BESSA.

“The new faculty presents BESSA with the opportunity to re-evaluate and evolve its role as active change-makers by broadening the scope of what we understand as the environment,” says BESSA.

As of September 31, 2020, BESSA will officially be reformed as the Environmental and Urban Change Students’ Association (EUCSA). The EUCSA will unite environmental studies, environmental science, urban studies, and geography students under the banner of their newly combined faculty.

“It celebrates incorporating representatives from each of these fields of study as equal members of a student government and club representing the entire EUC student body,” says BESSA.  

“While this exciting transformation retains the morals and values of each respective department and faculty, it’s also centred around translating a newly found ambition for addressing globally pressing issues at localized scales.”

About the Author

By Sakeina Syed

Former Editor

Sakeina is in her third year at York University studying public administration and creative writing. She is committed to learning and writing about critical issues and uplifting marginalized stories. Outside of Excalibur, you'll most likely find her reading a book or collecting funny cat videos.

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