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Interdisciplinary Concentration in Environmental Studies

Program Planner

The liberal learning concentration in Environmental Studies is designed for students who are interested in learning more about the natural environment and the ecology of the planet as well as the relationship of political, social, cultural, and economic activities to the environment. Environmental issues are studied from the perspectives of relevant natural sciences, quantitative reasoning, the social sciences, and the arts and humanities. Students completing the concentration gain sufficient knowledge to understand environmental issues in the context of human interaction with the natural world. They also gain the motivation and the ability to apply pertinent skills and knowledge developed throughout their curriculum to the analysis of environmental problems and possible solutions.

Learning Objectives

Students will gain an overview of the major environmental issues and the implications of those issues for humanity. They will understand the interactions between human activities and the ecology of natural systems as well as understand trade-offs and constraints on environmental policies. Students will also acquire a working knowledge of environmental issues utilizing both quantitative and qualitative approaches. They will also develop an appreciation for the interdisciplinary nature of these issues, drawing upon the valuable but often different perspectives provided by the humanities, natural sciences, and social sciences.   Finally, they will demonstrate their competence in analyzing the environment by writing papers that display familiarity with perspectives provided by the humanities, natural science, and social sciences.

Faculty/Staff Sponsors

Coordinator: Diane Bates (Sociology & Anthropology); Sponsors: Matt Bender (History), Curt Elderkin (Biology), Janet Gray (Women’s & Gender Studies), Stuart Koch (Political Science), Nathan Magee (Physics), Janet Morrison (Biology), Donald Vandegrift (Business), Morton Winston (Philosophy & Religion)

Courses and Internship

A total of seven courses including a capstone are required for completion of this concentration.   Students are also strongly encouraged to complete an internship in environmental studies if possible.

Some “Topics” courses and off-campus courses (including study abroad experiences) may count towards the Environmental Studies Concentration.  Please consult with your ESC advisor to determine this.

Natural Science and Quantitative Reasoning

Natural Science

One of the following

  • BIO 175/Environmental Biology* (or BIO 173/Humanity and the Natural World*)
  • BIO 185/Themes in Biology*
  • BIO 221/Ecology and Field Biology (Prerequisite: BIO 185)
  • BIO 344/Avian Biology
  • BIO 360/Oceanography
  • BIO 365, 366/Natural History of the Galapagos
  • BIO 370/Topics in Biology: Freshwater Ecology
  • ETE 341/Environmental and Biotechnological Systems (Prerequisite: ETE 131 or MAT 127 and ETE 271)
  • MST 203:  Environmental Science for Educators” to the bullet list under Natural Sciences
  • PHY 120/Introduction to Geology*
  • PHY 171/Introduction to Meteorology*
  • PHY 220/Advanced Geology
  • SCI 103/Physical, Earth, and Space Sciences (restricted to education majors)*
  • Note: see selected topics and seminar courses in various science departments with environmental themes.  Contact appropriate Environmental Studies faculty member.
Quantitative Reasoning
  • Any statistics course approved for liberal learning breadth requirements.

Social Sciences and History

Two of the following

  • ANT 341/Dynamics of Cultural Ecology (or Human Ecology)*
  • ANT/SOC/PBH 372  Global Public Health
  • ECO 350/Economics of Environmental Quality (Prerequisite: ECO 101)
  • HIS 188/Environmental History*
  • POL 355/Political Economy of Natural Resources*
  • SOC 345/Inequality, Pollution and the Environment*
  • SOC 355/Introduction to Urban Planning*
  • Note: see selected topics and seminar courses in various social science departments with environmental themes.  Contact appropriate Environmental Studies faculty member.

Arts and Humanities

Two of the following

  • JPW 270/Topics in Journalism: Reporting on Health & Environment (Fall 2013, 82796, taught by K. Pearson)
  • PHL 135/Contemporary Moral Issues*
  • PHL 265/Environmental Ethics (Prerequisite:One course in philosophy or permission of the instructor)  
  • PHL 311/Philosophy of Science
  • PHL 350/ Ethical Theory (Prerequisite:One 200 level course in philosophy or permission of the instructor)  
  • PHL 430/Advanced Ethics (Spring 2014, taught by M. Roberts)
  • WGS 374/Ecofeminism (Prerequisite: Sophomore, Junior, or Senior standing)
  • Note: see selected topics and seminar courses in various arts and humanities departments with environmental themes.  Contact appropriate Environmental Studies faculty member.


One of the following            

  • BIO 315/ Plants and People  (Prerequisite: BIO 185 or permission of the instructor)
  • ENV 391/ Independent Study in Environmental Studies
  • ENV 393/ Independent Research in Environmental Studies
  • ENV 399/ Internship in Environmental Studies (Internships will include a significant academic component under the supervision of a faculty or staff advisor.)

*No listed prerequisites.