The Vancouver Summer Program with UBC Science provides students with the opportunity to study at a top international research university and experience local Vancouver culture.

What you might expect/course format

Courses with UBC Science include in-class and lab portions taught by UBC faculty members, graduate students, and guest lecturers. Courses also include short field trips and other engaging learning opportunities. Students can expect team-based learning activities and assignments.

Check out VSP Institute for Resources, Environment, and Sustainability (IRES)’s page here!

*This course package is canceled for June 2023. Students who have applied for this package are encouraged to consider switching to other VSP course packages in June or July.


Sustainable Food and Farming Systems

In this course, lectures and assignments will incorporate data science allowing students to understand how experts use quantitative techniques in sustainable farming solutions. Our food and farming systems are one of the greatest causes of global environmental problems. Agriculture is responsible for continued deforestation, biodiversity loss, greenhouse gas emissions, depletion of freshwater resources, and water pollution. You will be given an overview of global agriculture (spatial distribution of crops and livestock, irrigation and fertilizer use), its historical evolution, environmental consequences, socio-economic dimensions (who/where are farmers, land tenure, labour, food sovereignty, right to food, access to food), and some proposed solutions for addressing these challenges. Students will uncover stories on what the data tells us about sustainable intensification, organic farming, agroecology, genetically modified foods, smallholder systems, and supply chains.

Sustainable Diets and Nutrition

This course emphasizes analytic and communications skills that will enable students to participate in contemporary sustainability debates. Nearly 1 in 7 people today remain undernourished, while 2 billion are malnourished. Students interested in public health, global health, medicine and health systems management will learn why a nutritious diet is critical to raising the quality of life of a large section of the world’s population. Students will learn the fundamentals of health education and communication, regarding concepts such as calorie calculation versus nutrition, dietary diversity, macro vs micro nutrients, vegetarian/vegan diets, food safety, and the relationship between diets, human health, and planetary health. Students will also become familiar with systemic strategies and policy issues, such as the role of dietary shifts as a critical pathway toward meeting the United Nations Sustainable Development goals.

No pre-requisites


*This course package is canceled for June 2023. Students who have applied for this package are encouraged to consider switching to other VSP course packages in June or July.


Analyzing Ecology, the Environment and You

Ecosystems and the benefits they provide to people lie at the heart of many sustainability issues such as food security, energy production, corporate environmental responsibility, and resource management. Often time, these are not reflected by management and policy approaches. Students in this course will gain expertise on human impacts on ecosystems, the processes by which ecosystems render benefits for people (ecosystem services), methods for analyzing impacts and benefits, and the ways that individuals and organizations incorporate such information into their decision-making. Through field trips to a range of ecosystem types, lectures, and exposure to innovative organizations in the public and private sector, this course will consider the opportunity for innovative progress towards sustainability from stronger and deeper ecological grounding. Students will learn how they can support this type of progress in their careers and day-to-day lives.

Decision-making about Oceans in the 21st Century

In this course, simulations and workshops will help students consider the variety of stakeholders involved in decision-making related to ocean conservation. You will be trained to tackle our rapidly changing global environment and the often conflicting role of oceans in biodiversity conservation, food security, climate change, and ecosystem services to humans. This course provides an overview into ocean conservation issues and in-depth skill-building via field trips that cover a variety of ocean issues, as well as guest lectures from and/or visits to organizations that are innovating solutions to components of these challenges in a variety of ways. Content, discussion, and exposure to experts and research and strategies will equip and empower students to better understand and become more engaged in ocean issues, no matter how close they are to a coast.

No pre-requisites

For VSP IRES-specific questions, email Nivretta Thatra at