Landscapes as Complex Social-Ecological Systems: Kluane Lake, Yukon


This year's program will be lead by Dr. Lael Parrott.

Program Dates

Travel dates: September 5 - 14, 2019

Note: September 5 and 14 are travel days; Sept 6-13 are instructional days.  Students concurrently enrolled in other courses are responsible for planning for their absence from classes and catching up on missed work.


About the program

This course will prepare students to critically assess and analyse the challenges and opportunities related to sustainably managing human interactions with the environment at the landscape scale, within in a diverse range of social, cultural, and economic contexts and in consideration of the inherent complexity of human-environment systems.  Using the Kluane Lake region, Yukon Territory as our study area, we will be exploring how historical and contemporary interactions between humans and the environment have shaped the present landscape.  We will also explore how environmental and social drivers of change shape the landscape over scales of space and time, and discuss future resilience and vulnerability in this context. The field component of the course will cover present-day perspectives and visions of the landscape and use by different groups, as well as historical and contemporary natural resource management governance systems & approaches by First Nations, Parks Canada, and the territorial government.

This course will be relevant for graduate and upper level undergraduate students studying environmental science, natural resource management, geography, or related fields.

Instructor: Lael Parrott, Professor in Sustainability, Departments of Earth, Environmental and Geographic Sciences and Biology, UBC Okanagan


Program Content (Learning Outcomes):

 At the end of the term, students will be able to:

Describe how conceptual models of social-ecological systems are applicable at the regional landscape scale
Understand how problems in environmental management or conservation can be resolved through a systems-level perspective that incorporates the knowledge and perspectives of different stakeholders
Describe the key characteristics of a complex system and explain how these apply to a landscape with a special emphasis on thresholds, non-linearity, and feedback loops
Propose how to integrate the inherent uncertainty of social-ecological systems into forecasting and prediction efforts. 
Understand the concepts of resilience, panarchy, adaptive capacity and vulnerability as they apply to social-ecological systems, and in the specific context of landscapes 
For a given landscape context, propose policy, stewardship, management or other interventions that may contribute to achieving societal, economic and ecological objectives over the long-term 


The course will involve preparatory readings and a field component.  The field component will be held at the Kluane Research Station, Kluane Lake, YTlinks to external site and surrounding area.  The station is situated next to the massive Elias Range and Kluane National Park.  We will be exploring the region by vehicle and on foot (day hikes) and interacting with regional land managers and stakeholders.  Snow is possible in September and students should be prepared for variable weather conditions.


Program fees – $1,400 - $1,900*

*The final program fee depends on the number of students in the program

INCLUDED in program fee

NOT included in program fee

  • Go Global Award is given to students who have 70% in their best 24 credits from the 2018-19 year
  • Accommodations
  • In-Territory group transportation
  • Meals
  • Wifi
  • Guest lectures
  • Go Global Fee
  • Flight
  • UBC tuition (3 credits)
  • Health or travel insurance
  • Immunizations (if necessary)
  • Visas (if necessary)
  • Personal spending money for communications, snacks, souvenirs, etc.




Course number and title:  EESC551D/418 – Complex social-ecological systems

Short Description: Survey of recent knowledge and understanding related to the study and management of landscapes as complex, human-environment systems



All meals and accommodation will be provided by the Kluane Lake Research Station.  Detailed information about the station and accommodation can be found on the website and in the station manual: to external site


Application deadline

Deadline: Applications for this Global Seminar are now open! Deadline to apply is May 12, 2019.

Enrolment in a relevant graduate degree program or in the fourth year of a relevant undergraduate degree program. Only exceptional (first class standing) undergraduate students will be accepted.

A good level of physical fitness is required to participate in day hikes or walks.

Limited spots are available for this program. Preference will be given to graduate students and exceptional 4th year undergraduate students. Students in all relevant disciplines are encouraged to apply.

To apply for this program please complete the application form and apply here (search for "Yukon GSP").


Withdrawals and Refunds

If you decide to withdraw your application following submission, you need to make this request in writing by email to Dana Lowton, Please be sure to consult the Global Seminar Refund Policy terms.



For questions about the application process and/or funding and scholarship eligibility, please contact Go Global (

For questions about the course content, please contact Dr. Lael Parrott (

Last reviewed shim3/21/2019 11:44:06 AM