Bachelor of Social and Environmental Sustainability (BSENS)

Crowd at School Strike for Climate, Christchurch 2019 (Jessica Halliday image copyright given)
New Zealand's only undergraduate degree in sustainability, the BSENS will open for enrolments from Feb 2022, subject to approval. 

Lead in a time of rapid change 

UC's new BSENS degree teaches you how to lead a fair and sustainable transition in this age of rapid and far-reaching social and ecological change. Understand complex global problems and learn about the wider context for just decision-making including indigenous rights. You will develop a critical understanding of the ways to advance social, ecological, cultural and economic sustainability, as well as the barriers and pathways for creating societal wellbeing and a sustainable, low-carbon future.

Help shape your future world

Studying a BSENS equips you to shape the world you inherit. Drawing from socio-ecological insights from politics, philosophy, ethics, indigenous studies, environmental law, governance and leadership, sociology, history, economics, business, marketing, psychology, management and communications, graduates of the BSENS will gain an understanding of how human behaviour, investment decisions and socio-cultural practices impact the world we live in. You will learn how to make a difference from local to global level on some of the most challenging collective social action problems we face, like the climate crisis. The BSENS addresses current and future needs for more skill in indigenous knowledge systems, community engagement, leadership, business practices and social innovation for sustainability. Students will be introduced to theories and practice including: ideas of mātauranga Māori, Pacific indigenous knowledge, decolonization and tino rangatiratanga, socio-ecological systems thinking and theories of change.

Required courses in writing, quantitative skills, the Treaty of Waitangi, and a final year internship course round out this degree and set you up to make a difference in the world.

There are four majors to choose from:

How can we make decisions that are sustainable and just? This major examines environmental and social sustainability problems from a governance and policy perspective. Learn about the role of international treaties and local and national regulatory frameworks, including environmental and resource management legislation. Explore concepts for sustainable and socially just governance, what it means to treat individuals and groups fairly and equitably, and how social and institutional norms affect the distribution of social, environmental, and economic benefits. Courses in this major feature New Zealand and international case studies with a particular Pacific focus.

How can leaders, systems and processes for advancing sustainability engage effectively with indigenous knowledge, stakeholders and communities, particularly iwi Māori and Pacific communities? Indigenous communities have long experience of existential crises, resilience, sustainability, and transformation. This major is intended to introduce students to the culture, knowledge, and philosophies of Māori and indigenous peoples and their realities, through examining the collaborative leadership concepts and values of manaakitanga, whakawhanaungatanga and māhaki and the implications of these values and kaupapa for transforming community, business, and NGOs in ways that advance social change and empower people.

How do we empower local and global action to advance sustainability? This major explores how community development and social action can use local collaborative approaches to solve wicked problems, and how local initiatives can be networked and affected by the globalisation of the economy. Students will learn to think critically about organisations - from small campaigns to the impact of transnational organisations concerned with sustainability, and social and environmental crises such as poverty, hunger and climate change. Core course materials include case studies from Pacific indigenous communities.

How can we advance sustainability in business? This major enables you to understand the roles that business, globalisation, consumerism and environmentalism play in today’s world. It approaches sustainability in business holistically, integrating insights from other disciplines in order to equip you to solve the environmental and social problems the planet is facing, particularly the challenges of reconciling business with environmental and social sustainability.

Find out more about studying a Bachelor of Social and Environmental Sustainability