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Home » Undergraduate Programs » Environmental Arts and Justice (BES) - old

Environmental Arts and Justice (BES) - old

Choose a degree that centres on solutions for a just and equitable world.

By mixing critical thinking and creative artistic practice, you will understand how political, cultural, economic and social systems and structures shape the global environmental crisis. You will be equipped with the practical skills and knowledge to analyze, challenge and respond to this crisis, and evaluate and propose analytical, innovative and sustainable responses.

This highly interdisciplinary program merges courses in literature, social science, environmental science, media production, performance and art with hands-on learning opportunities in and outside the classroom. You’ll develop leadership, analytical, collaborative and presentation skills – key to envisioning and realizing a better environmental future.

You will explore these critical issues:

  • Climate change
  • Loss of biodiversity
  • Resource extraction
  • Food justice
  • Environmental racism
  • Indigenous sovereignty and decolonization
  • Space/place and land ethics
  • Human-animal-plant relations
  • Gender identities and relationships
A photo taken by Brett Houghton with Morgan Johnson in a forest with an animal inspired mask on created by Alexandra Simpson for  the project There is No Wilderness (2017) by Lisa Hamalainen presented by Animacy Theatre Collective as part of Toronto Arts Council and Toronto Arts Foundation Arts in the Parks

Photo credit: Brett Houghton, Featured in image: Morgan Johnson
Mask built by: Alexandra Simpson

Our program embraces an expansive view of environmental arts and art making to include community artists, experimental art forms and those with little or no artistic training (no portfolio or background in the arts is required to enter).

Program Details

4 years

Full time and some part time

Fall, Winter and Summer entry

Bachelor in Environmental Studies (BES)

Curriculum Highlights

First year courses

  • Introduction to Environmental Documentaries
  • The World Today
  • The Dynamic Earth
  • Artists and Writers who have changed the world: Introduction to Environmental Arts
  • Environmental Politics and Justice
  • An elective course of your choice. This course can be used to start a double major or minor with your Environmental Arts and Justice degree.

Sample upper year courses

  • Environmental Law & Justice: Stories and Struggles
  • Food, Land & Culture
  • Race/Racism & Environmental Justice
  • Create, Curate, Critique: Environmental Arts Workshop
  • Indigenous Environmental Thought
  • Global Environmental Politics
  • Social Movements, Activism and Social Change

Hands-on Learning and Field Study

In the course, Community Arts for Social Change, students visit local communities and galleries to learn how they are mobilizing cultural productions to speak back to violence and injustice. Students then experiment with various media to create their own projects.

In the course, Qualitative Methods in Environmental Studies, students will practice their interviewing skills, learn how to analyze data and pool their resources to conduct an-in depth study examining Environmental Activism among York undergraduate students.

In our Work & Field Placement, students (who meet the requirements) have an opportunity to apply their classroom learning in a work placement with government, NGOs, community groups and/or businesses for credit. You will gain confidence and valuable work experience that will serve you well when launching your career post-graduation.

Other hands on courses:

  • Urban Gardening, Justice and Sustainability
  • Environmental Arts Workshop
  • Food, Land and Culture
  • Work Placement with a community organization
  • Semester Abroad at the Las Nubes EcoCampus in Costa Rica

Career Possibilities

The environmental sector is one of the fastest growing in the world.  With issues of equity, climate crisis and sustainability, at the forefront of the public conscious, more organizations and businesses are looking to hire environmental professionals.  By developing artistic, hands-on experiences coupled with transferrable skills such as communication, critical thinking, project coordination, and leadership our graduates are working in both the public and private sector in a variety of fields including education, government, business, non-profit, arts and more.

Some sample careers include:

  • Outreach Educator
  • Cultural Producer
  • Diversity and Equity Professional
  • Artist and Designer
  • Environmental Organizer

To help you succeed, our Experiential Education Coordinator provides a variety of career support services to our students including resume help, interview prep, and career planning workshops, and maintains an exclusive job board just for our students.

Additional Details

Admission Requirements

Please note that meeting the minimum academic requirements is not a guarantee of admission. More information is available on the York University Admission Requirements page.

  • ENG4U
  • Mid to high 70s
  • Grade 12 English
  • Mid to high 70s
  • Overall average of 3.0 on a 4-point scale (or equivalent)
  • Overall average of 2.3 on a 4-point scale (or equivalent)

How to Apply

Deadlines can be found on the York University Future Students website.

  1. Complete an Online Application Form.
  2. Pay the application fee.
  3. Submit supporting documents through the York University online portal, MyFile.
    • Within four business days of application, you will receive a confirmation email with your nine-digit student reference number, which will allow you to access your MyFile account and upload your documents.
    • It is important to check your MyFile regularly for any documents you are required to submit and updates to the status of your application.
    • More information about supporting documents, document processing times and decision processing times is available on the I’ve Applied page.