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. Five professional skills modules are scheduled for 2012/13 and 2013/2014:

Each module consists of between one and three 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 2012/13 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 SENS Administrative Officer Sharla Daviduik at 966-8431 or


Project Management

October 24 and 31, 2012 (two units)
Facilitated by John Patterson

Environmental projects are often complex, with natural resource and social implications to be considered. For practitioners working with community organizations, regulatory agencies, industry, and in the consulting field, managing project resources, deliverables and deadlines are critical. This hands-on module will require students to plan a project and address the basics of keeping projects on track.

Writing for a Public Audience/Communications

October 28 and November 18, 2013 (two units)
Facilitated by Merle Massie and Lesley Porter

The ability to communicate a message effectively to a variety of audiences is an important skill. Using hands-on writing and presentation exercises, this workshop teaches students the importance of writing in plain language and with persuasion, communicating with the media and how to use communications to position your research.

Financial and Budget Management

February 2014 (one unit)
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.

Essentials for People Management

March 6 and 13, 2013 (two units)
Faciliated by Chelsea Willness

Effective teamwork is a critical component of many workplaces and the environmental sector is no exception. Through interactive discussion and applied examples, this workshop addresses organizational culture, leadership, effective communication and performance management.

Sustainability Assessment

April 24, May 8, May 22, 2013 (three units)
Facilitated by Jill Gunn

This process-oriented module will explain the stages in a typical sustainability assessment (SA). Students will complete group exercises to simulate certain SA aspects. They will learn who is involved in an SA (and how and when); how to decide among competing alternatives using explicit decision rules; and where SA is being applied globally. Students will come away knowing what an SA is, how it works and how it might be applied in their professional futures.

Workshop Facilitators

John Patterson is the practitioner-in-residence at SENS for 2012-13. He has extensive experience managing projects in the private sector and with organizations such as the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) and the World Bank in Vietnam, Indonesia and other countries.

Merle Massie is a former SENS post-doctoral fellow. An environmental historian, Dr. Massie is a strong advocate for bringing academic research to the public. She has written for The Western Producer and The Star-Phoenix, as well as for several historical publications.

Meagan Hinther is the communications specialist at SENS and the Global Institute for Water Security. She works closely with University Communications and Research Communications to publicize the work of the school and the institute.

Twyla Rudovica is the financial officer at SENS and the Global Institute for Water Security. A certified management accountant (CMA designation), she manages the operational budgets of both the school and the institute, and also oversees a number of major research funds.

Chelsea Willness is assistant professor in the Edwards School of Business and is the Special Advisor on Community Engaged Scholarship for SENS. Her research interests include social and environmental responsibility and strategic human resource management.

Jill Gunn is assistant professor in the Department of Geography and Planning. Dr. Gunn’s research focuses on environmental assessment and regional and urban land use planning. She also teaches in the Regional and Urban Planning program.