Natural Resource

Haida Gwaii Semester in Natural Resource Science

September to December, HlG̱aagilda Skidegate

This program is well suited for undergraduate students who have completed the first two years of a natural science-based degree. It integrates classroom and field instruction with local guest speakers and numerous field activities. Much of the content builds on foundational ecological theories and observational science. Some social theories and concepts, particularly around linked social-ecological systems, are introduced later in the term.

HGSE 352 - Indigenous Governance & Land Stewardship Seminar

This semester-long weekly seminar provides an overview of First Nations’ governance of resources and territory, with a focus on Haida Gwaii. Through case studies and guest speakers, we will examine local resource governance structures and processes, such as those related to land and marine planning, forestry, fisheries, cultural heritage, and protected areas. In order to understand how these resources are managed today, we need to consider the colonial history of the province. How did the Crown gain control of lands and resources and exclude First Nations from participation in resource governance and economies? What are the different ways the First Nations have fought that exclusion and been successful in regaining access and control? How are First Nations engaging in resource management with provincial and federal governments and other diverse interest groups today? Course topics include: Indigenous laws, stewardship principles, and traditional knowledge; colonialism and resistance; Aboriginal rights; First Nation-Crown relations; reconciliation; and co-management.

HGSE 355 - Applied Ecology of Coastal Terrestrial Ecosystems

This course is an in-depth examination of the processes that shape coastal terrestrial ecosystems through time and applications of that information to current ecological reality. It covers topics from the historical geology of the islands to the structure, function, and diversity of forests and landscapes today.

HGSE 356 - Biophysical Dynamics of the Marine-Terrestrial Interface

Land and sea dynamics have profound influences on one another in Haida Gwaii, and students taking this course have a unique opportunity to explore such marine-terrestrial connections. Students learn about nutrient cycling between the marine environment and coastal forest ecosystems, how the physical characteristics of this interface can affect these inputs, and which species play a pivotal role in driving interactions.

HGSE 357 - Ecology & Management of Island Wildlife

This course focuses on unique biological attributes of island wildlife, such as subspecies, isolated populations, and distinct evolutionary pathways. Topics for this course include an overview of endemic species on Haida Gwaii and their evolutionary history in the context of island biogeography theory, as well as an examination of the parameters that drive population-level outcomes for native and introduced species.

HGSE 359 - Ecosystem Based Management

EBM is an “adaptive approach to managing human activities that seeks to ensure the coexistence of healthy, fully functioning ecosystems and human communities” (Pacific North Coast Integrated Area Plan, 2017). While the concept of EBM is well established in the academic literature, there remains a wide gap between theory and practice. Haida Gwaii provides rich examples, both terrestrial and marine, through which to analyze benefits and challenges of applying EBM in a real-world setting.

If you would like more information on this program please contact

  • "This experience definitely changed my life. It was my first time witnessing a cut block first-hand, and seeing how difficult sustainable forestry is - both economically and environmentally - was very eye-opening. This idea of sustainability transferred across all of our courses (as well as across scientific, political and economic boundaries), and was the first time I really felt I understood all that this word entails. I'd absolutely recommend this experience to any and all students!”
    Kristy Mlakar
  • “My experience with the Haida Gwaii Semesters is one that I cherish and reflect upon frequently. What I learned from my time there has affected many aspects of my life now: education and career goals, my drive to make change, and relationships - to name a few. I view my experience as being somewhat two-fold. On one hand, we had the opportunity to learn from amazing and inspiring teachers (both course professors and guest speakers), greatly build upon our transferrable skills in research, writing, collaboration and presenting, and conduct a variety of field work, while simultaneously exploring one the most beautiful places on earth. On the other hand, this program opens the door (and pushes you through it) for personal growth. Without the program I may never have known what it feels like to find a family within my peers, to be truly welcomed into a community with such a complicated past & vibrant culture, to realize my place in this world while peering at the full moon through the crowns of western red cedars, or to be drenched head-to-toe while surrounded by decaying salmon carcasses (bring good rain pants). I wouldn’t be the same person I am today without the time I spent on the edge of this world.”
    Emma Caron
  • "Doing the [Natural Resource Science] semester is one of the best things I have ever done. For me, [Haida Gwaii] was the perfect place to live and learn. Combining life and learning was quite seamless and happened organically [ . . . ] I still aim to return to the islands as soon as I can."
    Tracey Proverbs
  • "Natural Resource Science with Haida Gwaii Semesters was an excellent experience for me [ . . . ] Each student is treated as a valuable member of the school and there is an overwhelming sense of inclusiveness when on Haida Gwaii. The connections HGHES has to resources on Haida Gwaii are unparalleled and provide a unique field school setting. The school branches out to so many different people on Haida Gwaii to come speak to the class. As a class we were also brought to numerous locations around Haida Gwaii that provided excellent settings to learn about natural resource science such as estuaries, alpine meadows, forests, beaches, and bogs [ . . . ] We were able to carry out activities such as analyzing acoustic recordings, setting up pit traps, using telemetry, and assessing habitat. It is neat to be able to do all of these things with the variety of people HGHES collaborates with."
    Kim Sandve