Spring 2023 - REM 658 G100

Research Methods and Models for Sustainability (5)

Class Number: 5025

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Jan 4 – Apr 11, 2023: Mon, 9:30–11:20 a.m.

    Jan 4 – Apr 11, 2023: Wed, 11:30 a.m.–1:20 p.m.

  • Prerequisites:

    Permission of instructor.



Theory, background, and practical experience in the use of a range of methods and models related to environment, sustainability, and energy, with the aim of demonstrating how more environmentally and socially sustainable trajectories can be achieved. Techniques include: simulation modelling, optimization modelling, survey design, statistical analysis, discrete choice modelling, and qualitative research methods.


The course involves a mix of lectures, seminars and labs (all live and in-person). In seminars, students are expected to play an active role in understanding and discussing the various research methods and models and their appropriateness for different policy and research objectives. Students will gain hands-on experience by applying research methods and models to simplified problems in labs and assignments. The course sections correspond to the main methods topics that will be covered, although there is room for some alteration depending on the preferences and expertise of students in a particular year


By the end of this course, you will be able to:
   1. Identify and compare the major types of research methods and models being used to inform sustainability-oriented policy within social and technical systems.
   2. Explain the strengths and weaknesses of these methods and models, and identify their relative usefulness for different policy objectives or research questions.
   3. Evaluate and critique studies that utilize these methods (e.g. reports and peer-reviewed articles).
   4. Apply these models and methods to real-world problems in environment and sustainability, and policy.
   5. Effectively communicate research results (memos, papers, presentations), including text and visual aids (tables and figures).
   6. Assess and effectively communicate uncertainty in results.


  • Participation 10%
  • Assignments 30%
  • Mid-term exam 20%
  • Research methods project 40%



Your personalized Course Material list, including digital and physical textbooks, are available through the SFU Bookstore website by simply entering your Computing ID at: shop.sfu.ca/course-materials/my-personalized-course-materials.

Graduate Studies Notes:

Important dates and deadlines for graduate students are found here: http://www.sfu.ca/dean-gradstudies/current/important_dates/guidelines.html. The deadline to drop a course with a 100% refund is the end of week 2. The deadline to drop with no notation on your transcript is the end of week 3.

Registrar Notes:


SFU’s Academic Integrity website http://www.sfu.ca/students/academicintegrity.html is filled with information on what is meant by academic dishonesty, where you can find resources to help with your studies and the consequences of cheating. Check out the site for more information and videos that help explain the issues in plain English.

Each student is responsible for his or her conduct as it affects the university community. Academic dishonesty, in whatever form, is ultimately destructive of the values of the university. Furthermore, it is unfair and discouraging to the majority of students who pursue their studies honestly. Scholarly integrity is required of all members of the university. http://www.sfu.ca/policies/gazette/student/s10-01.html