Environmental Studies Program

The Environmental Studies Program is designed for students interested in addressing today’s critical environmental issues. The Environmental Studies Major and Minor offer students the opportunity to obtain an integrated understanding of contemporary environmental problems, policy issues, and solutions from local, national, and global perspectives. We provide an interdisciplinary foundation that includes natural sciences, social sciences, and humanities, emphasizing both the School of Earth and Environmental Science‘s orientation toward environmental science and the Urban Studies Department’s emphasis on social justice and public policy.

Graduates with a BA in Environmental Studies can look forward to a career either in the public or private sectors developing and implementing environmental practices and policies. While the program emphasizes social science theory and methods, students also take courses in the natural sciences. Environmental Studies graduates will be able to address environmental issues systemically from a perspective that considers their social and economic context of these problems, especially as they affect urban areas, as well as the long-range impacts of potential solutions.

Through multiple resources including readings, websites, films, and guest speakers, the Environmental Studies program provides students with an understanding of:

  •  The scientific and technical aspects of environmental issues, including climate change
  •  The institutional and political context of environmental policy making
  • The multiple stakeholders (public agencies, elected officials, community organizations, advocacy groups, etc.) involved in urban environmental issues
  • Policy solutions for urban environmental sustainability such as smart growth, pedestrian-friendly cities, inclusionary zoning, congestion pricing, alternate energy policies, and green manufacturing.

Environmental Studies natural science courses provide basic understandings of the physical and biological sciences relevant to environmental issues in urban areas. A capstone course applies that scientific knowledge towards solving a concrete contemporary problem. Environmental Studies social science and humanities courses emphasize policy and planning practices as they intersect the social, economic, and political environment of our cities. Students will discover the significance of race, gender, and class in the social and physical geography of the city, especially as they play out in environmental impacts, demdemographic shifts, health effects, transportation access, and the urban economy and labor markets. They will engage contemporary debates on urban sustainability related to land use, economic development, transportation, and community planning. They will gain field experience working with practitioners on current environmental issues.

The Minor in Environmental Studies is an interdisciplinary minor that provides students majoring in any social science, humanities, or natural science with the tools to better understand and address issues related to environmental policy and management. The minor is designed to enhance post-graduate opportunities for students interested in a career in either the public or private sector, in areas that develop, implement, or are impacted by environmental policies and practices. The minor requires 19 credits.

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