Academic program

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, first, an interdisciplinary core that encourages students to explore the social, aesthetic, ethical, scientific, and technical aspects of environmental questions, and second, a disciplinary-based major concentration that allows students to approach these questions with more focused knowledge and methodological tools. 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 five courses, a major concentration, a one- or two-semester thesis or W3, and a 200-hour internship. Students may apply designated Short Term courses toward their major requirements. It is recommended that students complete ENVR 203, 204, and 205 as early as possible, preferably within their first two years. These courses are not open to seniors. In addition to ENVR 203, 204, and 205, the environmental studies committee recommends that all students interested in environmental studies take a related course in biology, chemistry, physics, or geology during their first year. CH/ES 107B and 108B are designed specifically for students interested in environmental studies, and both are required for students choosing many majors or concentrations in the natural sciences.

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 Environmental Geology concentration; the physics minor cannot be combined with the Energy concentration; the philosophy minor is closed to students with the Ethics concentration and the chemistry minor may not be completed by Environmental Studies majors with an Environmental Chemistry concentration. Students are encouraged to look at 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, and no more than one course from abroad can count toward the major, regardless of the number of semesters abroad.

Core Requirements.
1) Required courses:
(May substitute ENVR 240 or ENVR 310 if prerequisites can be met without taking 203.)
ENVR 203. Scientific Approaches to Environmental Issues.
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.

2) At least one course from the following list. There are restrictions depending on the student's major concentration. Students should consult the environmental studies website for information on which courses fulfill each major concentration.

ES/RU 216. Nature in Russian Culture.
ECON 222. Environmental Economics.
ENVR 227. Catastrophes and Hope.
ENVR 229. The Electric Grid.
ENVR 240. Water and Watersheds.
AN/ES 242. Environment, Human Rights, and Indigenous Peoples.
ENVR 310. Soils.
ENVR 334. The Question of the Animal.
ENVR 337. Social Movements, NGOs, and the Environment.
ENVR 340. Literatures of Agriculture.
ENVR 348. Nature and the Novel.
ENVR 350. Environmental Justice in the Americas.

3) 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:
Environment and Human Culture.
Environmental Chemistry.
Environmental Economics.
Environmental Ethics.
Environmental Geology.
Environment in the Literary and Visual Arts.
Global Environment and Social Change.

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

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.