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Montreal Urban Sustainability Experience (MUSE)

MUSE Course Information | How to Apply




Montreal’s Urban Sustainability Experience (MUSE) is a summer field semester based on the island of Montreal. MUSE focuses on exploring and establishing aspects of urban sustainability while emphasizing a healthy balance of theoretical and practical knowledge. By encouraging student-driven learning, MUSE creates a learning environment with a high level of engagement amongst students, professors, and the local community. MUSE students help create a hands-on, integrated, and interdisciplinary learning experience that transcends the boundaries of traditional undergraduate education.

The MUSE field semester facilitates student initiatives to create positive change within Montreal communities, changes that can be adapted and expanded in other communities. We use Montreal as a case-study of an urban environment striving to identify and implement  pathways for sustainable living. Students will benefit from joining with community members and stakeholders to deepen their learning, and helping themselves and others to achieve sustainability goals.

The field semester is directly relevant to the MSE’s aim of “aiding society in making environmental choices, in the context of diverse environmental world views that will sustain healthy societies within a flourishing biosphere.” Opportunities for experiential learning in non-traditional settings are also a priority for McGill undergraduates.

MUSE Symposium

The 4th Annual MUSE Symposium will be held on May 27th, 2016 in the Thomson House Ballroom. It will showcase student research and bring together the interest in Montreal's ongoing transformations, its environmental history and future sustainability.

The schedule of events is as follows:

10:00 am Opening Remarks: Dr. Julia Freeman, MUSE coordinator

10:10am - 12:00pm MUSE student research presentations: Assessing Montreal's Sustainability Plans and Actions

    *Tree Canopy and the Emerald Ash Borer

    *Montreal's Food Waste: Causes and Consequences

    *Socio-economic Factors for Local and Nutritious Food

    *Walking Away from Cars: Montreal's Saint Catherine's Pedestrian Project

    *Compost is Coming: Montreal's Organic Waste Management Plan

12:00 - 1:30pm Lunch and Sustainable Transitions Poster Session

1:30 - 2:30pm "Cities as Places of Transformation", keynote address by Jayne Engle, curator of Cities for People, and Program Director, the J. W. McConnell Family Foundation

2:30-3:30 Reception


All are welcome. RSVP to: julia [dot] freeman [at] mcgill [dot] ca


MUSE Course Information

MUSE is open to all McGill undergraduate students from U2 on.

MUSE students must take the following courses concurrently:

ENVR 421 - Mtl:Envr Hist & Sustainability

Students will develop a strong understanding of the repercussions of human activity on the environment and how the environment affects our own activities but studying both the socio-cultural and natural history of Montreal as a case study. Each year, students will contribute to The Hochelaga Project by working to develop a historical reconstruction of Montreal; this is a collaborative and cumulative project to be completed over the course of many years. Students will explore different methods and approaches for reconstructing past environments and tracing environmental, cultural, and geographical changes. Presentation, critique and group organization skills will be developed as well as an understanding of the benefits of skill and knowledge sharing amongst fellow peers.


ENVR 422 - Mtl Urban Sustainability Anal

This course focuses on assessing Montreal as a sustainable city. Working as a team, students and professors will examine the city through readings, discussions, and field trips. Urban agriculture, transportation, green space and design, and waste management will be addressed as part of an assessment of how far Montreal has progressed towards its goal of becoming a sustainable city. Local experts will share their experiences working in this field, highlighting the ups and downs of initiating a sustainable urban project. With an emphasis on experience-based learning and applied learning opportunities, students will investigate and share their findings regarding sustainability in Montreal. 


How to Apply


MUSE 2016 is now full and we are no longer accepting applications.

Check back for more information for the coming years.


Application Process:

Interested in contributing to The Hochelaga Project, mapping the natural history of Montreal?

Seeking applied research and experience-based learning opportunities for the summer?

Then apply to take the two MUSE courses over the month of May and join us for Montreal’s Urban Sustainability Experience.


Applicants will submit a one-page letter of interest that details your academic background, interest in historical ecology and urban sustainability, and any relevant experience (e.g. knowledge of French or GIS, methods, or ecological training, etc).  A single PDF of your unofficial transcripts is also required.

For more information about this program or to submit your application, email the coordinator julia [dot] freeman [at] mcgill [dot] ca (Dr. Julia Freeman)