Applied Coastal Ecology Program Review Summary


The Applied Coastal Ecology (ACE) program readies students for careers in coastal natural resources management, ecosystem restoration, environmental monitoring, and many others. ACE balances foundational learning in areas such as biology, geography, chemistry and oceanography with applied courses in areas such as salmon, ground fish and shellfish management, stream habitat restoration, rainforest ecology, wildlife management, and more. 

ACE students get important technology training in computer database management, GIS mapping, surveying, technical writing, and presentation. Students participate in real-world, community-based projects to gain employment-ready experience and ultimately gain a strong sense of how coastal ecosystems react to the stresses imposed on them by human activity, and how to apply procedures to mitigate impacts and restore healthy ecosystems. 

This review took place between December 2018 and January 2023. It was initiated and supported by the Center of Learning Transformation (COLT) and completed by members of the Applied Coastal Ecology Department. The Self-Study process required conducting institutional research and surveys of faculty, current and former students, and local industry. A Self Study Report was finalized in June of 2020.


Program and Self Study Summary

The Self-study captured the past 25 years of history, previous reviews, challenges, and successes, of the ACE program.   

The program is small having been built upon modified, but traditional University Credit (UC) offerings of the Prince Rupert University Credit program.  This incremental offering of 22 credits and a 25% coordinator, has produced many graduates working with local environmental consultants, First Nations, governments, educational institutions, and even a local MLA.   

The program has been evolving significantly over the past few years and finally starting to address some of the long-standing challenges of delivering on its promise of experiential field-based learning.  This has been addressed by the addition of a 24-passenger bus, boat, and new equipment and a further $250,000 in funding for a second boat and equipment over the next few months.   

Consequently, some of the looking back parts of the review are now historical as we have moved on from that, plus the influx of international students and changes since the pandemic significantly changed the dynamics of the program.   

It was difficult to rely on some of the data on graduates and enrollment.  Based on our personal experience, some of these numbers are suspect.   

With the addition of the new boats and equipment, the focus for the future is on the human resource side.  How we organize and operate as a team is our most important challenge and several recommendations were made to help further the program.  


External Review Process

An external review and virtual site visit were conducted between April and June 2021 due to Covid-19 pandemic restrictions. An External Review Panel (ERP) was nominated by the SST, and appointed by VP, ESSI.  This is a panel of three experts was comprised of one panelist who was a college instructor from a different Cluster than the program under review. The other panelists were academic peers from University of Northern British Columbia and Selkirk College.   

The ERP gave a written report at the end of June 2021 that confirmed the Self Study Report and furthered the teams existing recommendations. All of the recommendations were taken into consideration by the SSR as they worked to integrate and develop learning from the report into an Action Plan.  


Action Plan

The Action Plan is a document that outlines the main recommendations of the Self Study, External Review, and the Response to the External Review Reports.  This Action Plan is a guide to the college intended to proactively manage growth and change in the Department.   

The vision is that the results of a successful implementation of this Action Plan will improve the Applied Coastal Ecology Program:  

  •  Delivery on the promise of unique experiential coastal marine education. 

  • Improve the marketing outreach for domestic students.   


In January of 2023, the SST gave a One-Year Update on the Action Plan. This Program currently aligns with CMTN’s institutional priorities, including the college’s Strategic Plan and the three core values of CMTN: Adventurous, Transformative and Integrity.  With continued efforts completions of this Action Plan the Program will continue to improve and build on these core values.