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Home » Education » Justice and Sustainability Is the Focus of York University’s Newest Faculty

Make a positive change by applying to the new Faculty of Environmental & Urban Change at York University.

Reading daily headlines on how climate change and carbon emissions are devasting our planet can make one feel quite despondent. There is much to do and not a lot of time in which to make positive environmental change.

York University, however, is working to effect change through its Faculty of Environmental & Urban Change (EUC), launched in September 2020. The EUC Faculty prepares students to be leaders in sustainability through transformational critical theory, interdisciplinary thinking, and hands-on experiential learning.

Alice J. Hovorka is the EUC Dean and Professor in the Faculty. “The EUC Faculty began when a group of students, staff and faculty members came together with a shared belief that we need to establish a call to action to address some of the grand challenges that we are facing, whether it is the climate crisis, environmental degradation or intensive urbanization,” said Hovorka. “Not only to do research and teach around these themes but to inspire others and ourselves to make a difference in the world.”

The EUC Faculty offers three undergraduate degrees, six new undergraduate programs and two graduate programs. The 60 faculty span the fields of science, social science, the humanities and arts.

Geography is so much more than learning landforms and capital cities, and this program gives me a much deeper understanding of the world

Working together to make positive change

One of the prime mandates of the EUC Faculty is to bring teams together from different disciplines when approaching sustainability challenges. Programs such as Cities, Regions, Planning; Ecosystem Management; Environmental Arts & Justice; Environmental Science; Global Geography; and Sustainable Environmental Management ensure problems are viewed through an interdisciplinary lens that will give students a broader understanding of a complex issue.

“One of the things that makes EUC distinct is that we aim to look at environmental issues in a holistic way,” commented Hovorka. “We cannot put people and process over the planet, but we also need to address any issues around racism, sexism and classism to ensure that everyone benefits from what we do to create a sustainable world.” 

A place for future changemakers

Another main tenet of the EUC Faculty is to train students in the field so that they can mobilize knowledge gained into action and help solve real-world environmental and social issues that affect the planet.

Ashraf Hutchcraft is a geography student and research associate in his second year at York University’s EUC Faculty.

Always drawn to geography, Hutchcraft chose York because he felt aligned with how the Faculty viewed human and social geography. “Sociological issues and environmental issues intersect, and both need to be addressed,” says Hutchcraft. “Geography is so much more than learning landforms and capital cities, and this program gives me a much deeper understanding of the world.”

Hutchcraft believes that he will be fully prepared to enter the job market once he graduates. “My program not only outlines the world’s most pressing challenges but also how we can provide solutions,” commented Hutchcraft. “Plus, EUC offers opportunities for experiential learning—providing actual career placements in the field while we are doing our studies.” Hutchcraft has an internship with EUC’s Costa Rica EcoCampus, Las Nubes. “The real-life training is so tied to what you are learning,” continued Hutchcraft. “There is something about reading all of the papers that have been published, and then, when you experience it yourself, you have a more well-rounded perspective.”

The Faculty has connections to 12,000 alumni that are leaders in their field, spanning the globe.

“Our students receive the opportunities and foundational skills they need to succeed in today’s job market,” added Hovorka. “And we have never been at a more pivotal point at which we need to make a difference.”

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