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Requirements

Environmental Studies Major

The Environmental Studies (ENVS) major is a challenging multidisciplinary program of study that involves 14 courses from at least five departments. Each student tailors the major to her/his own interests and strengths within curricular guidelines. 

Many of these courses are not offered every year, so careful planning is a must. We recommend that potential Environmental Studies majors complete most of the required 100-level courses by the end of their second year. Environmental Studies majors are required to successfully complete all prerequisite courses, particularly Bio 163 and Econ 199, to be admitted into upper-level courses. Once a major, students will be given preferential placement in some Environmental Studies courses.

Students seeking to major in Environmental Studies are required to meet with the director of Environmental Studies to devise an initial plan of study. Please see the Enrollment  page for more details.

All majors must complete the following six courses:

1. BIOL 117 Environmental Science
2. BIOL 163 Introduction to Biological Diversity and Ecology w/Lab
3. CHEM 181 Atoms and Molecules w/Lab
4. GEOS 150 Introduction to Geology w/Lab
5. ECON 110 Core Principles of Economics (prerequisite for ECON 224)
6. ECON 224 Environmental Economics

Majors must also complete courses in each of the following categories:
7. One Environmental Politics or Policy Course:
POLS 257 Politics of Development
POLS 285 Global Environmental Politics
POLS 286 Comparative Environmental Policy
POLS 259 Natural Resource Conflicts in Latin America

8. One Environmental History or Environmental Philosophy Course:
HIST 140 Nature and Society
HIST 230 Environmental History
HIST 299 Europe's First Global Age
HIST 305 America’s First Global Age
PHIL 249 Environmental Ethics
PHIL 247 Environmental Political Philosophy
 
9. One upper level Geology or Biology course with a Lab:
BIOL 233 Freshwater Ecology w/Lab
BIOL 235 Marine Biology w/Lab
BIOL 250 Field Botany w/lab
BIOL 280 General Ecology w/Lab
GEOS 210 Geomorphology w/Lab
GEOS 270 Watershed Hydrology w/Lab

10. One upper level Geology or Biology course (lab optional). Students may choose a second course under requirement 9 or one of the courses listed below:
BIOL 331 Ecosystem Ecology
BIOL 361 Toxicology
BIOL 381 Conservation Biology
GEOS 310 Paleoclimatology     
GEOS 350 Oceanography
 
11. One environmental arts, social science or humanities course. Students may choose an additional course under requirements 7 or 8 or one of the courses listed below:
CHIN 251 China and the Environment
CLAS 233 Nature in the Classical World
ENGL 344 Romantic Revolutions
ENGL 399 Georgic and Pastoral 
ENGL 399 Environmental Poetics
ENGL 399 Thoreau Then and Now
ENGL 399 Reading Nature
GERM 299 German Environmentalism
RELS 255 Ecology and Religion
RELS 260 Comparative Mysticism and Human Ecology
RELS 353 Theology and Ecology
RELS 340 Gardens and World Religions
SOCL 210 Consumer and Corporate Sustainability
SOCL 236 Environmental Sociology
SOCL 238 Cities and Environment
SOCL 399 Disaster Sociology
SOCL 399 Social Disruption and the City
VAHI 250 Making the Modern City
VAHI 299 American Landscapes
VAST 206 Drawn to Nature

12.  One course with a major quantitative or spatial analysis component:
BIOL 275 Biological Statistics
ENVS 247 Introduction to Geographical Information Systems
GEOS 270 Watershed Hydrology w/Lab (if used for quantitative component then doesn’t count for requirement 9 above)
MATH 220 Statistics

13. And 14. Two additional upper-level (200 or higher) Environmental Studies courses in any discipline (categories 7-12 above).

One of the upper level course requirements can be fulfilled by undergraduate research for academic credit with prior permission of the Environmental Studies director.

This list is frequently updated, and new courses (199, 299, and 399 courses) are added as appropriate. A small number of specific humanities courses may be taken for Environmental Studies credit if class papers and projects are done on environmental topics; speak to the director for more information.

Advanced Placement Credit

AP credits may be used for advanced placement in the Environmental Studies curriculum but do not reduce the number of courses required. If you have AP credit in chemistry or Environmental Science, we suggest that you contact the Environmental Studies director to discuss your options prior to enrolling in either BIOL 117 or CHEM 181.

  • AP Chemistry: Students scoring a 4 or 5 on the AP Chemistry exam may opt to skip CHEM 181 and take CHEM 231 (Equilibrium and Reactivity) instead.
  • AP Environmental Science: Students scoring a 5 on the AP Environmental Science exam may opt to skip BIOL 117 and take an additional Environmental Studies elective in any discipline.
  • AP Statistics or AP Microeconomics: Talk to the director.

AP credits cannot be applied toward the Environmental Studies minor.

Environmental Studies Minor

The Environmental Studies minor is a multidisciplinary program of study that involves seven courses from at least three departments. Each student tailors the minor to his/her own interests and strengths within the curricular guidelines. Students may apply for an Environmental Studies minor in conjunction with any major. 

Students seeking to minor in Environmental Studies are required to meet with the director of Environmental Studies to devise a list of available courses that complement the student’s major.

All Environmental Studies minors are required to have successfully completed all of the prerequisite courses to be admitted into upper-level courses. 

Only two courses can count toward both a major and the ENVS minor.

Examples of Environmental Studies Arts, Social Sciences, and Humanities Courses

  • ECON 224 Environmental Economics (highly recommended for ENVS minors)
  • ENGL 399 Thoreau Then and Now
  • ENVS 200 Environmental Law
  • HIST 230 Environmental History
  • HIST 305 America’s First Global Age
  • PHIL 240 Environmental Ethics
  • PHIL 247 Environmental Political Philosophy
  • POLS 257 Politics of Development
  • POLS 285 Global Environmental Politics
  • POLS 286 Comparative Environmental Policy
  • RELS 255 Ecology and Religion
  • RELS 353 Theology and Ecology
  • SOCL 210 Consumer and Corporate Sustainability
  • SOCL 236 Environmental Sociology
  • VAHI 299 American Landscapes

 
Examples of Environmental Studies Natural Science Courses

  • BIOL 114 Biological Principles: Oceans and People
  • BIOL 114 Biological Principles: Plants and Human Affairs
  • BIOL 117 Environmental Science (highly recommended for ENVS minors)
  • BIOL 163 Introduction to Biological Diversity and Ecology w/Lab
  • BIOL 201 Microbiology of a Hurricane
  • BIOL 233 Freshwater Ecology w/Lab
  • BIOL 235 Marine Biology w/Lab
  • BIOL 250 Field Botany
  • BIOL 280 General Ecology w/Lab
  • BIOL 331 Ecosystem Ecology
  • BIOL 361 Toxicology
  • BIOL 381 Conservation Biology
  • CHEM 141 Environmental Chemistry
  • CHEM 181 w/Lab Atoms & Molecules
  • ENVS 247 Introduction to Geographical Information Systems
  • GEOS 150 Introduction to Geology w/Lab
  • GEOS 210 Geomorphology w/Lab
  • GEOS 270 Watershed Hydrology w/Lab

 
Students may also use study abroad courses and courses at other colleges and universities to fulfill minor requirements with the prior permission of the Environmental Studies director.

The courses listed above are regularly offered. Departments frequently offer additional courses that may be counted for Environmental Studies credit. The director will publicize other courses and how they may be used to fulfill minor requirements.

Environmental Studies Courses for 2019-2020

The following are subject to change.


Department

Fall 2019

Spring 2020

Anthropology/Sociology

  • SOC 210Consumer and Corporate Sustainability
  • ANTH 299 Humans and Nonhumans

 

Biology

  • 117 Environmental Science 2 sections
  • 163 Intro Div Ecol
  • 233 Freshwater Ecology (lab)
  • 250 Field Botany (lab)
  • 275 Bio-statistics
  • GEOS 150 Intro to Geology*
  • GEOS 310 (non lab) Paleoclimatology*
  • 117 Environmental Science
  • 163 Intro to Div.& Ecol. with lab
  • 275 Biological Statistics
  • 299 Biology of Birds - 2 Sections
  • 331 Ecosystems Ecology
  • 361 Toxicology

Chemistry

  • 181 Atoms and Molecules
  • 231 Equilibrium and Reactivity
  • 141 Environmental Chemistry
  • 181 Atoms and Molecules (with Lab)
  • 231 Equilibrium and Reactivity- 3 sections (with Lab)

Classics

  • 233 Nature in the Classical World

 

Economics

  • 110 Core Principles of Economics
  • 220 Environmental Economics
  • 110 Principles of Economics - 6 sections
  • 220 Environmental Economics

English

  • 351 Thoreau Then & Now
  • 377 Environmental Poetics

ENVS

  • 199  Environmental Perspectives
  • 200  Environmental Law
  • 199 Environmental Perspectives
  • 247 Introduction to Geographic Information Systems

Geoscience

 

  • 270 Watershed Hydrology
  • 305 America’s First Global Age

History

 

  • 122 Food, Power & the Environment
  • 305 America’s First Global Age

Montserrat

 

  • 105N Analyzing Environmental Data
  • 107N Bauhaus: Design for Democracy

Music

 

  • 199 Music and the Environment

Physics

  • 199 Physics of Energy

 

Political Science

 

  • 257 Politics of Development
  • 299 U.S. Environmental Policy

Religious Studies

  • 199 Ecological Spirituality
  • 260 Comp Mysticism & Human Ecology
  • 199 Ecological Spirituality

Statistics

  • 220 Statistics 
  • 220 Statistics - 2 sections

Visual Arts

  • 206 Drawn to Nature
  • 399 VAHI Designing Green
  • 299 Nature and the City
  • 340 American Landscapes

Advice for Potential Majors and Minors

Students contemplating the Environmental Studies major or minor should be advised to take BIO 117 Environmental Science during their first year (and no later than the spring of their second year), and potential majors should plan to take ECON 112/199 before the end of their second year. Performance and interests in these courses will help you in contemplating majoring or minoring in Environmental Studies.

Students interested in Environmental Studies must meet with the director to discuss the program’s curriculum and to determine their level of interest and aptitude. Below are a series of questions we use to help potential Environmental Studies students find the best major and level of involvement in the program. We encourage some students to pursue majors in traditional departments and be involved in Environmental Studies as either a minor or "friend of the program." 

Consideration #1: Are you really best served by majoring in biology or chemistry? Students who aspire to attend graduate school or careers in environmental science should be advised to fully consider biology or chemistry as a major and Environmental Studies as a minor.

Consideration #2: Are you really best served by majoring in a social science discipline with a traditional department (e.g., economics, political science, or sociology) and minoring in Environmental Studies? Students who aspire to pursue graduate school in the social sciences or environmental policy or work at an economic firm are advised to fully consider this option.

Consideration #3: Are you really best served by majoring in a humanities department (e.g., English, history, philosophy, or religion) and minoring in Environmental Studies?

Consideration #4: Finally, are you perhaps really best served by majoring in Environmental Studies? A) Are your interests in Environmental Studies and post-graduate aspirations well defined? B) Do you have a sufficient academic record and strong performance in environmental science, suggesting that you will succeed in the other required science courses? C) Are you likely to flourish in a multidisciplinary program?

Frequently Asked Questions

Is there an Environmental Science major or minor?
No. If you are interested in a career or graduate school in an environmental science field, we encourage you to consider majoring in a science discipline (biologychemistry, or physics) and minoring in Environmental Studies. The Environmental Studies major is for students who are interested in a truly multidisciplinary program with significant coursework in the social sciences and humanities.

When I look up Environmental Studies courses for next semester in STAR, I only see a few listed. Am I missing something? 
As a multidisciplinary program, the Environmental Studies Program counts courses from over 10 departments, and only a few Environmental Studies courses carry the "ENVS" prefix in the catalog or on STAR. You can find all the courses that count toward Environmental Studies in the Search for Classes window on STAR by selecting "Multidisciplinary Major/Minor" in the Course Attribute dropdown menu, then selecting "Environmental Studies" from the Course Attribute Value dropdown menu. Note that some courses only count toward the major and some only count toward the minor. Please contact the director if you have questions about specific classes.

I'd like to minor in Environmental Studies but don't plan to be a biology major. Can I take the upper level biology classes, like Marine Biology or Conservation Biology?
Yes, but assume that all course prerequisites apply. The decision about letting Environmental Studies students in without prerequisites is solely up to the course instructor. If you are interested in these upper level biology classes, you will probably need to take biology 163 and possibly other biology classes first, but talk to the professor about it before your enrollment period.

I started out as a biology major and took Bio 161 and/or Bio 162. Do I still need to take Bio 163 for the Environmental Studies major?
Yes. Bio 163 is the introduction to biological diversity and ecology, and is the prerequisite for most of the upper level environmental biology courses.

What classes should I take first? 
It depends on what your interests are. Generally, a good place to start is BIOL 117 Environmental Science. For ENVS majors, we recommend that students take most of the required introductory courses (requirements 1-5) early, preferably before the end of sophomore year if you can; note that only first- and second-year students can enroll in BIOL 117 and ECON 110. Minors should also try to take BIOL 117 Environmental Science before the end of sophomore year.

Can I fulfill common area requirements with Environmental Studies courses?
Certainly! Many Environmental Studies courses carry common area designations, and there is no limit to the number of common area requirements that can be fulfilled through the Environmental Studies major or minor.

I took an environmentally themed Montserrat class. Does that count towards the major or minor?
Maybe. Certain Montserrat courses can be applied toward the Environmental Studies major and/or minor. The list of approved Montserrat courses and what requirements they fulfill change every year, so you should check with the director if you have a question about a specific one. In all cases, approved year-long Montserrat courses can only fulfill ONE course toward the major or minor.