Natural Resource

Haida Gwaii Semester in Natural Resource Studies

Next offering to be decided - Please contact for more information

This program is designed for students from interdisciplinary backgrounds who have completed the first two years of an undergraduate degree. The courses consider natural resources through a social lens, blending classroom instruction with a variety of community activities and local guest speakers. Content examines complex issues relating to the management of natural resources throughout history, the socio-economic impacts of decision-making, First Nations rights and title, and more. The final course includes a strong field component and the opportunity to develop basic field research and technical skills.

HGSE 350 - Case Studies in Haida Gwaii

In this course, the capstone of the Haida Gwaii Semester in Natural Resource Studies, students integrate concepts and themes from the semester’s four modular courses. This is done in the context of community and through the lenses of culture, ecology, economy/industry, government, places, and people. Students engage in an in-depth exploration of the communities of Haida Gwaii through community-based experiences and community service learning. Workshops are offered to develop students’ skills in working in resource dependent, cross-cultural communities: planning and community-based research, giving effective presentations, group work, and technical writing.

HGSE 351 - History & Politics of Resource Management

How do ideas about nature influence the ways in which we interact with and manage natural resources? Why is history important in understanding the politics of resource management? This course takes a historical approach to examining resource management and conflicts in Canada, with a particular focus on forests. Course topics include the social nature of forests; the history of forestry in Canada; First Nations, imperialism, and forests; race, class and gender in the woods; and contemporary forest conflicts and claims.

HGSE 352 - First Nations Governance & Natural Resource Management

This course 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 353 - Rainforest Ecology & Management

How do natural and anthropogenic disturbances alter the structure, composition and function of coastal temperate rainforests? How do forests respond to different types and intensities of disturbance, and what are the implications for forest management? How can we use field data to examine and understand coastal temperate rainforests? In this course students learn about, explore, and collect data in a variety of forest ecosystems at a range of successional stages in Haida Gwaii.

HGSE 354 - Diversifying Resource Dependent Communities

Large-scale political and economic changes are reshaping rural, resource-dependent communities in British Columbia and elsewhere, but responsibility for community wellbeing and survival is increasingly being left to communities to address. This course offers an in-depth examination of the forces that restructure local economies, both historic and contemporary, and links rural economic development with the legacy of resource development and marginalization of Aboriginal communities across British Columbia.

Our syllabi are constantly evolving. If you would like the most up to date syllabi please contact us at

  • [Natural Resource Studies was] a highly transformative experience, the results of which I rely upon on a daily basis. It connected me to our country, our people and our politics, and engrossed me in primary industries with which I would otherwise not have had firsthand experience.”
    Alex Martinuik
  • “Participation in this semester program has taught me that when it comes to natural resource management, everything is interconnected. History, economics, human rights, biology. It all has a stake in how the environment is utilized and this semester has shown me that you cannot look at this issue through one lens. As ‘environmentalists’ we sometimes get stuck on looking at natural resource management with only the betterment of the physical environment. What I’ve learned this semester through every course is that each lens in so important to the creation of a natural resource management strategy that will allow all stakeholders to benefit in a sustainable manner. I also realized that getting emotional about issues is okay and in fact allows me to become more immersed in the subject matter. Caring is cool ”
    Winter 2015
  • "Natural Resource Studies was the best semester of university ever. It was a great program in an amazing location with some of the best educators I have ever met."
    Joel Cargill