Turning Passion into Purpose

Fostering in students a respect for the natural world and a desire to create positive and lasting change

The Master of Resource and Environmental Management (MREM) program at Dalhousie caters to a wide array of interests in an already inclusive field. Whether students are interested in renewable energy, coastal zone restoration or habitat conservation and wildlife management, there’s an opportunity to take their passion and turn it into practice.

Alum Victoria Sandre speaks to the collective benefit of having classmates in all fields of interest, where they were able to learn from one another in a cross-cutting and collaborative way. “Each student has unique experiences to offer, with MREM offering equally as dynamic experiences in return,” Sandre says. “This relationship is what attracts a high calibre of motivated, passionate and successful students who move on to work in highly impactful roles around the world.”

Students benefit not only from enrolling in courses such as Law and Policy for Resource and Environmental Management, Industrial Sustainability or Indigenous Perspectives on Resource and Environmental Management, but professional development is also a key component to the MREM program. Through workshops and networking sessions organized by the program, students are made aware of countless opportunities in their field, including positions within government, not-for-profit organizations or in the private sector.

Some students, like Jessica Hum, enroll in the program to elaborate on an already established topic of interest. “After nearly a decade working as a professional planner, I was ready for a ‘learning sabbatical’ to gain new perspectives to enhance my planning practice,” she says. “I was most interested in dedicating time to research environmental, socio-political and sustainability issues of climate change impacts with Indigenous and northern communities.”

As a recent graduate who experienced the program through COVID, Hum says she was still presented with incredible opportunities to connect with others in meaningful ways. As a course-based independent study, Hum started a podcast that explores multiple Indigenous perspectives through Story-telling and Story-listening. Her research transformed the age-old medium of oral stories and modernized them.

Hum has Dr. Karen Beazley to thank for encouraging her to consider the podcast for her independent study, and Dr. Sherry Pictou and Melanie Zurba for helping Hum see how research through oral stories can bridge two cultures or ways of knowing.

The MREM program’s out-of-the-box thinking prepares students to innovate in a time of uncertainty. The program itself underwent a pivot through the pandemic, as current student Darcy Kavanaugh can speak to. “As you can imagine, it wasn’t what I was hoping for when I applied for this program,” he says. “With that being said, it has been much better than anticipated. My professors have truly gone above and beyond to ensure that we receive a quality education during such odd times.”

Kavanaugh includes that Dr. Jennifer Grek-Martin was someone who especially stood out. She was his professor for a Geographic Information Systems (GIS) course. “As a course heavily reliant on having a computer with a certain software, GIS is hard enough at the best of times,” Kavanaugh explains. “When you throw the inability to visit campus into the mix, it becomes even harder. Jennifer and her teaching assistant Yan Chen were incredible, and her influence has led me to continue my GIS learning with another GIS elective this semester.”

Wherever a student may be coming from, MREM can help them make the necessary connections to thrive in life outside of school. MREM fosters in students an academic integrity, a respect for the natural world and a desire to create positive and lasting change.