Major in Environmental Studies

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Interest in the environment has surged dramatically over the past decade. From popular media outlets to high-level governmental planning agencies, environmental issues, such as the implications of climate change and related water scarcity, the introduction of genetically modified organisms into food chains, instabilities in the global energy market, and the deteriorating infrastructure of the urban built environment, have become pervasive topics of concern. There is also a clear realization that relationships between humans and their environments have grown increasingly complex. Instead of relying on simple technological solutions, policy makers, business and religious leaders, citizen groups, and students alike have stressed the need to address underlying social, economic, cultural, and political dimensions of environmental change in a more integrated fashion. The Major in Environmental Studies, which entails collaboration between seventeen departments across SAS (Anthropology, Art History: Cultural Heritage and Preservation Studies, Biological Sciences, Chemistry –via Interdisciplinary Studies, Comparative Literature, Earth and Planetary Sciences, Economics, English, Geography, German, History, Latino and Caribbean Studies, Philosophy, Political Science, Psychology, Sociology, and Women's and Gender Studies), ensures that students similarly consider environmental issues in terms of their interdisciplinary origins and implications.

Major Requirements

The Major in Environmental Studies (ENVS) consists of 36 credits of coursework reflecting the program’s four-field approach (natural sciences, humanities, social sciences, and methods/techniques). 

  • Intro to Environmental Studies (3 cr)
  • Natural Sciences (6 cr)
  • Environmental Social Sciences (6 cr)
  • Environmental Humanities (6 cr)
  • ENVS Methods/Techniques (3 cr)
  • ENVS Capstone (3 cr)
  • Electives (9 cr)

At least 18 of these credits must be earned through coursework at the 300 level or higher. No more than 12 of these credits can be double counted for either the student’s primary major or any other degree No more than one D grade will be accepted for credit towards the major.

Dual Major Requirement

The Major in Environmental Studies is designed as a second Major, and is meant to complement a student’s primary Major in another field.  All requirements for bothMajors must be met before the Major in Environmental Studies can be conferred.  A student’s primary Major may be drawn from any major recognized by the School of Arts and Sciences.  

Approved Courses 

SAS departments and programs include (curriculum codes in parentheses):  Anthropology (070); Art History: Cultural Heritage and Preservation Studies (082); Biological Sciences (119); Chemistry (160); Comparative Literature (195); Earth and Planetary Studies (460); English (358); Environmental Studies (381); Geography (450); German (470); History (506, 512); Interdisciplinary Studies (516); Latino and Caribbean Studies (595); Philosophy (730); Political Science (790); Psychology (830); SAS Honors (090); Sociology (920); and Women’s and Gender Studies (988). SEBS departments and programs include: Ecology, Evolution and Natural Resources (216); Environmental Planning (573); Environmental Sciences (375) Human Ecology (374); Landscape Architecture (550); and Meteorology (670). 

View the list of courses approved for this Major

Learning Goals for the Major in Environmental Studies

This program has three learning goals:

  1. Environmental LiteracyStudents who complete the major will understand and be able to articulate, both orally and in writing, the core principles, concepts, and theories that form the field’s interdisciplinary foundation.
  2. Environmental Methods/TechniquesStudents who complete the major will be able to demonstrate proficiency in at least one spatial analytical        method/technique.
  3. Environmental Problem SolvingStudents who complete the major will be able to apply perspectives from the natural sciences, social sciences and humanities in an integrated fashion to analyze concrete environmental problems and evaluate alternative approaches to them.

Learn about the Environmental Studies Minor