Courses and Training

These footprint-related graduate courses are offered from the Faculty of Environmental Studies:

Ecological Economics (ENVS 6115)

This course introduces economic concepts and approaches that help to understand and resolve environmental issues. It examines the topics of markets and market failure, the economic consideration of ecosystem services, non-market valuation of externalities, directing markets to internalize externalities, informing decisions in the public interest, discounting, human behaviour, the assessment of sustainability with nature considered as natural capital, wellbeing, global trade, and unemployment.

This course develops your mastery of: 1) appraising scholarly publications that focus on environment-economy interactions and dependencies; 2) applying economic theory to analyze contemporary environmental problems and strategize for solutions; 3) succinctly communicating theory and solutions to an interdisciplinary audience, in writing and verbally.

Ecological Footprint Accounting (ENVS 6599 IDS)

This course introduces the concept and methodology of Ecological Footprint and Biocapacity Accounting. It covers the concept of sustainability, an overview of the National Footprint Accounts, a multi-day intensive work-through of analytical techniques used to produce the accounts, an investigation of some of the critiques and limitations of the accounts, how the accounts align with the International System of Environmental Economic Accounts and the Sustainable Development Goals, and how to engage policy professionals in using the accounting system.

This course develops your mastery of: 1) demonstrating an understanding of Ecological Footprint and Biocapacity accounting; 2) appraising the Ecological Footprint within the context of other sustainability metrics and accounting systems; 3) communicating the potential for additional applications of the Ecological Footprint and Biocapacity accounting.

Ecological Footprint Analytics (ENVS 6599 IDS)

This course develops analytical and computational skills that are used to produce the National Ecological Footprint and Biocapacity accounts, and that is also transferable to other data-intensive initiatives. These accounts quantify how much of the planet’s regenerative capacity is needed and is available, to sustain humans with food, fibres, wood products, areas for settlements, and the sequestration of anthropogenic carbon emissions – all of which all accounted for at a national level for all countries from 1961 to the present.

This course develops your mastery of: 1) using specific software (MySQL Workbench, Excel, R Studio, INFAMOUS) and coding languages (SQL and MySQL, R) and web services (BitBucket) to manage, analyze, and communicate data that inform the National Ecological Footprint and Biocapacity accounts; 2) applying principles of security, data integrity, and quality assurance to successfully produce usable data; 3) understanding and codifying scholarly literature about the accounts and related concepts.

National Accounts Production (ENVS 6699 Experiential Learning)

This learning takes place as the result of paid employment as a Data Analyst with the Footprint Data Foundation. As a Data Analyst, you will acquire and analyze global datasets from the United Nations (Comtrade, Food and Agricultural Organization, Fishbase), the International Energy Association, the World Bank and International Monetary Foundation, and others. These data will be used to develop an edition of the National Ecological Footprint and Biocapacity Accounts of all nations on the planet from 1961 to the present.

Your experience working on the accounts will develop your mastery of 1) specific data sets and data procedures used to generate an edition of the accounts; 2) the application and troubleshooting of computer code and data queries; 3) the application of factors and equations using computational hardware and software including MySQL, R, Workbench, Excel, and the proprietary software INFAMOUS.

Joining the Initiative as an MES Student

Graduate students in the 2-year MES program in the Faculty of Environmental Studies may declare an interest in being part of the Ecological Footprint Initiative. Benefits include enrollment in the specialized footprint courses, additional training and mentoring, and experiential learning opportunities.

In the fall term of the first year, students enroll in Ecological Economics and Ecological Footprint Accounting. In the winter term, students enroll in Ecological Footprint Analytics. Upon completion of these courses, students are eligible in the summer term for paid positions as a Research Assistant (RA) or Data Analyst.

In the second year, students are eligible for other year-specific experiential opportunities. Past opportunities have included government-sponsored consultancy work, journal-related research assistance, external public presentations, and ongoing research and development of the National Ecological Footprint and Biocapacity Accounts.

Student Testimonials

“I gained a deep understanding of this valuable sustainability metric and experience working with relevant software that was completely new to me at the outset. Eric is a fantastic educator and mentor who provides his students with excellent challenges and support” - Elizabeth Holloway, MES III.

“Data analytics is not an area I am well-equipped in but I wanted an opportunity to challenge myself academically. This led me to join the ecological footprint analysis course in my second semester. I might have felt intimidated by the process but its inclusive and supportive environment made a world of difference. Professor Eric Miller designed a course that was both challenging and rewarding. He integrated practical assignments and invited professionals to attend our classes. The knowledge I gained from the Ecological Footprint Initiative was a positive experience I will look back on fondly.” - Elyssa Pompa, MES III.

“These courses offer a unique opportunity to dive into data analytics for sustainability assessment. These skills are increasingly in demand by green employers.” - Anuja Kapoor, MES III.