Academic Program

The academic program requirements described below are applicable to all ES majors in the graduating class of 2019 and subsequent years.  These requirements are also one of two options for ES majors in the graduating class of 2018.  The other option is described under ES Core Courses and Concentrations.

Environmental studies encompasses a broad range of issues that arise from the interaction of humans with the natural world. To understand these issues, students must think across and beyond existing disciplinary boundaries. The environmental studies major provides a framework for students to examine how humans experience, investigate, and interact with their environment. The curriculum includes interdisciplinary course work that encourages students to explore the social, aesthetic, ethical, scientific, and technical aspects of environmental questions and to approach these questions with more focused knowledge and methodological tools through a major concentration.. More information on the environmental studies program including the course requirements for each major concentration is available on the website (

Major Requirements. Students majoring in environmental studies must fulfill core requirements of four courses, a major concentration, a one- or two-semester thesis or a W3 course, and a 200-hour internship. Students may apply designated Short Term courses toward their major requirements. It is recommended that students complete ENVR 204 and 205 and introductory science as early as possible, preferably within their first two years. These courses are not open to seniors. In addition to ENVR 204 and 205, the environmental studies committee recommends that all students interested in environmental studies take a related course in biology, chemistry, physics, geology or environmental science during their first year.

Students are advised that there may be limits on second majors or minors and on double-dipping certain courses, but these differ by major concentration. For example, the geology minor is not available in combination with the Ecology and Earth Systems concentration; no more than two courses from a Politics major may also count in the Global Environment and Social Change concentration. Students should examine the concentration requirements for details and consult with the advisor for the environmental studies major concentration in question.

Students should note that there may be flexibility in requirements due to changes in the curriculum.

Students interested in environmental education are advised to take a minor or general education concentration in education in addition to their major in environmental studies. Students are encouraged to consider study abroad, although the program reserves the right to restrict study abroad to one semester. No more than one course from abroad can count toward the major, regardless of the number of semesters abroad.

Core Requirements.
1) Required courses:
ENVR 204. Environment and Society.
ENVR 205. Lives in Place.
ENVR 417. Community-Engaged Research in Environmental Studies.
ENVR 457, 458. Senior Thesis, or ENVR 450. Environmental Writing in the Public Sphere.

In addition, each student completes natural science and courses for breadth as described within a chosen major concentration.

2) Courses in the Major Concentration. Major concentrations focus on a particular aspect of environmental studies. The program website provides information regarding the courses required of each major concentration. The major concentrations are:
Ecology and Earth Systems.
Ecology and Economics of the Environment.
Environment and Human Culture.
Global Environmental Politics

The Thesis. Majors must complete a one- or two-semester thesis or an alternative W3 course. In some years, ENVR 450, Environmental Writing in the Public Sphere, may be available as an alternative to thesis. Theses and W3 portfolios in ENVR 450 must build in some significant way upon the courses that students take as part of their major concentration. Students write proposals for W3 placement in the winter semester of the junior year.

The Internship. Every student must complete a 200-hour internship in an environmentally oriented organization by the end of the fall semester of their senior year. Internships at academic research organizations, those requiring only physical labor, and those at summer camps are generally unacceptable.

Pass/Fail Grading Option. Pass/fail grading may not be elected for courses applied toward the major.