Topical seminar

Natural Resource Sciences: Topical Graduate Seminars

Course Numbers

MSc (NRSC 644), Section 001, 002, 003

PhD (NRSC 752, NRSC 753), Section 001, 002, 003

Course Description:

These mid-course semiars are offered to provide students with an opportunity to expand their skills through on of the following options (choice mut be with approval of the supervisory committee):

  • Participate in one of the courses offered in any given semester
  • For this years offerings see Topical seminars.
  • Give a conference presentation or poster at a national or international meeting
  • Take a special topics independent study
  • Organize their own seminar course (with the support of a faculty mentor)
  • Students can request that a professor offer a seminar course by getting in touch with the professor.

Expectations and evaluation

  • Students MUST get prior approval of their supervisory committee for the path they choose to take for mid-course seminar.
  • Grades will be assigned by the professor in charge of the course, or by the student’s supervisory committee. PhD students are graded on a pass/fail basis. MSc students will receive a letter grade.

Topical graduate seminars typically meet every other week, though a different schedule may be set by the professor in charge.


Topical Seminars on Offer Winter 2016


Important Note:

 These topical seminar courses share one course number- they are only distinguished by the section numbers. Therefore, it is important that you select the appropriate section so that you’re assigned to the correct topical seminar. 


(1) “This Changes Everything” with Dr. Jim Fyles  (Section 001)

 Location: R3-035

 Course Schedule:

7 sessions:   Jan 14, 28, Feb 11, 25, Mar 17, 31, Apr 14                            

Thursdays 10-11:30


As I write, the news is flowing out of the Paris Climate Summit. Much is uncertain, from the chances of consensus to the future of the planet. The one thing that is certain, however, is that climate change is here to stay and will affect our careers and the rest of our lives. Few of us in NRS work in domains that will not be touched by climate change. It makes sense for us to understand as much as we can about the ecological and social processes involved, and to reflect on what it could mean to us. The purpose of this seminar is to inform ourselves, discuss and reflect on the implications of climate change, what it might mean for us and for the department.

I am suggesting that we use Naomi Klein’s book “This Changes Everything” as a framework for discussion. It is not an academic document but is well researched, written and provocative. It will make us think. It is not a ‘science’ book; we will dig up other sources for the science when we need them. But I think that Klein’s  book provides the opportunity to develop a critical context for our science that will be useful to us.

The seminar will include a variety of activities which we will tune to the needs, interests and size of the group. A typical session might include one or two students leading a discussion of one chapter of the book, supported by short overviews of other literature sources on specific points of interest in the chapter provided by the other students. In one session we will watch the film that has emerged from the book that will be released in January (maybe we can find another time and invite friends with snacks). By the end of the term we should have a serious discussion about what this all means to us and what it means to conversations and actions that we should be having in the Department and Faculty; perhaps we can come up with some recommendations or a sustainability fund proposal.

Grades will be based on leadership of and contribution to the discussion, and submission of short written summaries of source documents and their oral presentation.

To Register:

MSc Students: Sign up for NRSC 644 Section 001

PhD Students: Sign up for NRSC 752 or NRSC 753 (whichever you haven’t taken) section 001


If you are interested in this seminar (officially registered or not) please contact me (jim.fyles [at] and then go out and buy the book (available everywhere for around $25 for hard cover) and read it over the holidays. Who knows? It might change everything.       


(2) “Giving a good presentation” with Dr. Brian Driscoll   (Section 002)


Location: R3-035



Students will practice giving research talks to a group of students and professors. They will receive feedback to help accentuate good aspects of their speaking and to improve weaknesses.


Course Schedule: 

TBA based on the number of students who register, but likely to be in “off-weeks” with the Introductory/Year 1 Schedules to allow students to take both if desired.  


To register:

MSc Students: Sign up for NRSC 644 Section 002

PhD Students: Sign up for NRSC 752 or NRSC 753 (whichever you haven’t taken) section 002. 


(3) Independent Study with Dr. Elena Bennett (Section 003)

(Note: Requires permission of Dr. Bennett to register)


Location: N/A



This course section is to be used for those wanting to take advantage of one of the other opportunities to meet their seminar needs. Instructor approval (from Dr. Bennett) is required prior to registering. To get my approval, you will need written approval from your supervisor for you plan.

To register:

MSc Students: Sign up for NRSC 644 section 003

PhD Students: Sign up for NRSC 752 or NRSC 753 (whichever you haven’t taken) section 003.