Professional Skills Certificate

Success in the environmental labour market depends on many things. Technical know-how is important, but so are professional or transferable skills, such as communications, financial management and human resources management.

To help students augment the skills gained in their academic programs, we offer a Professional Skills Certificate. This is a certificate of attendance – students only need to attend a series of workshops, held throughout the year, to complete the certificate. A variety of half-day sessions are held and students choose the ones that best meet their own professional development needs.

The workshops are facilitated by professionals working in the subject area and provide students with hands-on experience based on real-world examples. Seven modules are planned for 2014/2015:

Each module consists of between one or two half-day workshops, or “units.” Students must attend seven units to receive the certificate – these seven units must be made up of complete modules (i.e., students must attend all modules scheduled for a unit).


“It made me really think about my research in a different way -- how to explain it to people not familiar with the concepts, and how to convince people that my research matters!”

“I thought the workshop was going to be a lot of ‘common sense,’ but I learned a lot! It was really good.”

“Great energy from the instructors -- very engaging. It was really useful when we were asked to write examples of press releases/interviews about our own research -- really made me think hard about what’s important about what I’m doing, and I can now apply those to other avenues, like proposal writing.”

The Fine Print

Students must complete all seven units during the 2014/15 academic year to be granted the certificate and modules cannot be carried forward. Students may attend fewer than seven units, but they will not be eligible to receive the certificate. Each module is capped at 40 participants.

Each unit costs $25. Fees are refundable only if one week’s notice of absence from any module is provided.

If you have any questions about the Professional Skills Certificate, please contact Dr. Vladimir Kricsfalusy at 966-6642 or


Project Management

9:00 a.m. - noon, October 27 and 30, 2014 (two units)
Facilitated by John Patterson

Participants will work in teams, undertaking stages of an example project. Students will scope the project, organize their team, do a SWOT analysis, develop the proposal, meet the client and develop the project work plan. The second unit will involve allocating resources, assigning tasks and milestones, managing the schedule and budget, and presenting the deliverables.

Written and Oral Communication

9:00 a.m. - noon, November 10, 2014
Facilitated by Merle Massie

Communicating effectively with a variety of audiences is a critical core professional skill. Using the strength of plain language, we will practice hands-on writing and communication that is persuasive, clear and aimed at a broad audience. Professional examples will include briefing notes, the thirty-second elevator pitch, and the plain language report.

Visual Communication

9:00 a.m. - noon, November 13, 2014
Facilitated by Merle Massie and Branimir Gjetvaj

A picture is worth a thousand words. Visual arts help us understand, connect to and gain the sense of place of where we live. They are an important communication tool for effective outreach; a vehicle to share information, sensory experience, and a fresh look on the world we encounter in our daily lives. A message that combines verbal (i.e. audio or text) and visual media will deliver a narrative most capable of portraying complex issues. This module will assist participants to be more proficient and effective communicators to a variety of audiences.

Environmental Impact Assessment

9:30 a.m. to noon, November 28, 2014
Facilitated by Bram Noble

This module introduces the environ-mental assessment process in Canada. Attention is focused on the regulatory requirements for conducting environmental assessment under the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act. Participants will learn about the steps involved in an environmental assessment, how to apply the Act to screen project applications, and professional practice requirements.

Environmental Technical Applications

9:00 a.m. to noon, January 14 & 16, 2015
Facilitated by Jay Sagin and Vladimir Kricsfalusy

Unit 1. Global Positioning System (GPS) tools are used intensively by consultants, and engineering and research organizations. During this workshop waypoints, route tracking, mapping and data downloading by using GPS software will be taught.     

Unit 2: Map preparation from collected data, including GPS data, can be a complicated task. At the same time, maps can be prepared by using user friendly web GIS tools with available datasets. The workshops participants will learn how to prepare maps by using the web GIS data basin system.

Financial and Budget Management

9:00 a.m. - noon, January 23, 2015
Facilitated by Tracey McHardy, SENS Financial Officer

Using real world examples, this workshop addresses effective budgeting and budget management – skills required for environmental practitioners, whether they are working for NGOs, consulting firms or in academia.

Career Development

9:00 a.m. - noon, January 28, 2015
Facilitated by Sharla Daviduik

A well-prepared job application is an essential step to securing employment after graduation.  Students will learn tips to aid them in presenting their qualifications to potential employers, and will have the opportunity to receive feedback on their own resumes or CVs. 

Workshop Facilitators

John Patterson began his career as an environmental inspector of seismic, drilling and pipeline projects in the oilfields of Western Canada. He ‘learned by doing’ in the fast-paced and high-stress upstream petroleum industry. This experience led him to a career of twenty years of managing environmental projects in Southeast and Central Asia with the Canadian International Development Agency, the World Bank, and the Asian Development Bank.

Merle Massie is a writer, editor, historian and farmer in west-central Saskatchewan. She has published two books and numerous articles for both academic and public audiences. An adjunct professor with SENS, Dr. Massie is a specialist in local, agricultural, and environmental history and has given several workshops in writing and communication at the U of S.

Branimir Gjetvaj is a biologist and environmental photographer from Saskatoon. He is a passionate outdoor and nature photographer and an experienced instructor. Dr. Gjetvaj’s formal education and interest in photography has led him to use his skills as a vehicle to promote appreciation and protection of natural environments and cultural legacies.

Bram Noble is a professor of environmental assessment at the U of S. He is also co-director of Aura, an environmental assessment consulting firm. Dr. Noble has been engaged in professional practice in Canada for over 15 years. This includes environmental assessment, regulatory reviews and expert guidance for such projects as the Lower Churchill Hydroelectric project, the Westcoast Gas Connector pipeline, the Bipole III transmission line, and Devon Canada’s water licensing in northern BC. He has provided practitioner guidance and federal Ministerial decision guidance for environmental assessment, and is an advisor to the National Energy Board's review committee for pipeline applications.

Vladimir Kricsfalusy is an Associate Professor in SENS where he coordinates the MSEM program and the PSC. His research interests include conservation and management of endangered and invasive species, communities and habitats, as well as protected areas. Dr. Kricsfalusy has been actively engaged in professional practice while working as a consultant to government and municipal organizations/agencies, NGOs and businesses in Canada and Eastern Europe.

Jay Sagin is a SENS and Global Institute for Water Security postdoctoral fellow. Dr. Sagin’s expertise is in Earth Observation Satellites, GPS and GIS applications for natural resource projects. His current efforts focus on the Saskatchewan River Delta and Slave River Delta, NWT. Previous research work was in the region on the border of Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Tracey McHardy is Financial Officer at SENS. A certified accountant, she manages the operational budget of the School, and oversees a number of major research funds.

Sharla Daviduik is Administrative Officer at SENS. In addition to providing administrative support for the School’s leadership, she coordinates all faculty searches and staff hires at the School.