Qualitative Methodology for Environmental Sciences & Policy

Academic Year: 
Course Code: 
ENVS 6008
Course Description: 

This workshop style course will help prepare students to plan and implement a qualitatively driven research design for environmental sciences and policy projects. The course will cover basic topics of importance to qualitative methodologies more generally; ontology and epistemology, data collection tools, ethical considerations, and critical appraisal. Students will consider more specific applications of these topics to one qualitative methodology of their choice; preferably that which they intend to use for their thesis research. The course is ideal for students at the project proposal stage of their program of studies.

Course Delivery

Course objectives will be achieved through in person and virtual interactions between the instructor and students.

Instructor in person: February 11-15, 2019

Mon Feb 11: 
3 hour workshop: overview of qualitative methodology: ontology & epistemology, basic data collection & analysis tools and techniques

Feb 12-14: 
series of 90 minute- 2 hour individualized sessions each covering a methodology. Students will be expected to sign up for one session that best suits their program research needs.

February 15: 
3 hour workshop: ethical considerations in qualitative research, critical appraisal of qualitative research

Instructor at a distance via email and/or virtual meetings: February 18-March 29, 2019.

  • Debrief of critical appraisal assignment
  • Iterative feedback as proposal methodology is prepared
Learning Outcomes: 
  • Students will be able to provide a general overview of the ontological and epistemological underpinnings of qualitative research methodology
  • Students will be able to provide a description of a range of data collection and analysis strategies commonly used in qualitative research
  • Students will be able to identify research ethics challenges associated with qualitative data collection
  • Students will learn and apply criteria for the critical appraisal of qualitative studies
  • Students will demonstrate sufficient knowledge of one qualitative methodology to develop a research plan using the chosen approach

Final assessment will be pass/fail based on a minimum average of 70% across all deliverables.

  1. Attendance and participation at two in person 3hour workshops plus one 90 minute session on their chosen methodology: 30%
  2. Critical appraisal of a published article using the qualitative methodology the student anticipates using for their research: 30%
  3. Paper outlining draft methodology for their research: 40%

Required readings will be available by mid-January 2019. 



Sylvia Abonyi, Ph.D.

Associate Professor 
Department of Community Health &  Epidemiology

Research Faculty -SPHERU (www.spheru.ca)

University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, Canada

Email: sylvia.abonyi(at)usask.ca 

Skype: skszil

Brief biography:

Sylvia Abonyi is an Associate Professor in the Department of Community Health and Epidemiology at the University of Saskatchewan in Canada, and Research Faculty in the Saskatchewan Population Health and Evaluation Research Unit (SPHERU). Trained as an anthropologist, her methodological orientation is critical ethnography approached through participatory and capacity building collaborations with colleagues, stakeholders, and communities. In her work with Indigenous peoples and communities topics of research have included a focus on specific health conditions, such as type 2 diabetes, tuberculosis, cardiovascular disease, and HIV/AIDS & hepatitis C, as well as broader topics such as the development of frameworks and measures of community health and healthy aging in place. Additional areas of interest include population health research ethics, and the use of multimedia strategies in research and knowledge exchange.