Undergraduate Curriculum

MAJOR: Students interested in environmental and sustainability issues have several options for a major.  Students with a science and technology interest often major in earth and environmental sciences or in environmental engineering, and they may also take a minor in environmental and sustainability studies (below), which is weighted toward the social sciences and humanities and therefore balances the science or engineering major. Students who want to pursue a major in the environmental social sciences also have various options, including sociology, public policy, and anthropology.  The description of the sociology major is available on the undergraduate portion of the sociology web site, where there is a page on environmental sociology; and there are also descriptions of the public policy and anthropology curricula for those departments. Some students also create an independent major in environmental studies (see Prof. Hess for details). Unlike most majors, which are about 30 credits, the independent major is a 48-credit sequence. The rules for forming an independent major are available here. The independent major in environmental studies has five main types of courses: science foundation, social science foundation (usually including methods and general social science courses), a breadth group of courses in the social sciences and humanities, a concentration area in the social sciences or humanities, and a capstone course (usually ENVS 4101).


MINORS. The Program in Environmental and Sustainability Studies is associated with the minor of that name described below.  There is also a minor in Earth and Environmental Sciences for students who wish to pursue a more natural science-oriented curriculum.

MINOR in Environmental and Sustainability Studies (ENVS)

Director: David Hess

Human beings and their societies necessarily interact with and alter the Earth’s natural environment. The Environmental and Sustainability Studies minor allows the student to examine human interaction with the environment from the perspectives of the humanities and social sciences with some exposure to the environmental sciences and/or environmental engineering.

Students who want to minor in Environmental and Sustainability Studies must take a minimum of six courses (18 credits total) chosen from the courses listed below; additional relevant courses may be counted with approval of the director of the program.  Courses must be distributed as follows: one science- and technology-intensive course (A); two humanities courses (B); two social-behavioral and policy-intensive courses (C); and a capstone course. No more than two courses may be at the 100-level. In addition, no more than three hours may be counted simultaneously toward both the Environmental Studies minor and any other major or minor. Topics courses may count toward the minor with approval of the director.

The following is a list of relevant courses.  The program director may approve additional courses, so contact Prof. Hess if you have any questions.

A) Science- and Technology-Intensive

  • BSCI 1103: Green Earth
  • BSCI 3233: Conservation Biology
  • BSCI 2238, 2238L: Ecology Lab and Ecology
  • EES 1030: Oceanography
  • EES 1070: Volcanoes: Impacts on Earth and Society
  • EES 1080: Earth and Atmosphere
  • EES 1140: Ecology, Evolution, and Climates Through Time
  • EES 1111F-04:  Sustainability: An Environmental Science Perspective (John Ayers)*
  • EES 1510, 1510L: Dynamic Earth
  • EES 2110: Global Climate Change
  • EES 2150: Science, Risk, and Policy  [Can count as a C list course with variance from the program director]
  • EES 3220, 3220W: Life Through Time
  • EES 4650: Physics of the Climate System
  • EES 4680: Paleoclimates
  • EES 4750: Sustainable Systems Science
  • EES 4760: Agent- and Individual-Based Computational Modeling
  • EES 4820: Paleoecological Methods
  • ENVE 3610, 3511, 3612: Sustainable Development
  • ENVE 4615: Environmental Assessments
  • ENVE 4700: Energy and Water Resources

B) Humanities

  • AMER 1111-02: Food for Thought (Susan Kevra)*
  • AMER 4000: American Studies Workshop. Blue Gold: Water Rights and Wrongs (Cecelia Tichi)*
  • AMER 4100: Undergraduate Seminar in American Studies. Literature and the Environment in the Americas (Vera Kutzinski)*
  • ENGL 2316W: Writing for an Endangered World: Representative U.S. Writers Tackle Sustainability (Dana Nelson)*
  • ENGL 3720: Literature, Science and Technology — Green Romanticism: Can Poetry Save the Earth? (Dahlia Porter)*
  • ENGL 3730: Literature and the Environment
  • ENGL 3896: Special Topics in Investigative Writing (Amanda Little)*
  • ENGL 3898: Special Topics: Whole Walden (Kate Daniels)*
  • HART 3240W: Ancient Landscapes (Betsey Robinson)
  • HART 2782: Storied Places: History of Landscape Design (Betsey Robinson)
  • HIST 1470: History of Exploration
  • HIST 1480: The Darwinian Revolution
  • HIST 1520: Science and the Sea
  • PHIL 1111-05:  Green Cities (Jonathan Bremer)*
  • PHIL 3611: Environmental Philosophy
  • PHIL 3612:  Ethics and Animals
  • RLST 3921: Ethics and Ecology
  • RLST 2472: Religion, Ecology, and Power in Africa
  • WGS 2268: Gender, Race, Justice, and the Environment
  • WGS 2270: Ecofeminism: Theory, Politics, and Action

C) Social-Behavioral Sciences and Policy-Intensive Courses

  • ANTH 1111: Fashioning Forests and Nature (Shenton)
  • ANTH 2109: Food Politics in America
  • ANTH 2220: Human Landscapes
  • ANTH 3138: Global Food Politics
  • ANTH 3621: Introduction to Geographical Information Systems
  • ANTH 4154: Environmental Anthropology
  • ECON 2170: Environmental Economics
  • HODC 3212: Community Development Organizations and Policies (James Fraser)*
  • HODC 3890: Special Topics in Community Leadership and the Environment: Sustainability, Justice, and the City (James Fraser and Jason Adkins)*
  • PSCI 3253: Ethics and Public Policy (Brooke Ackerly)*
  • PSY 1111: The Psychology of Sustainability (Leslie Kirby)*
  • SOC 1020: Social Issues: Environment and Society  (David Hess)*
  • SOC 1111-19: Sociology of Local Sustainability (David Hess)*
  • SOC 3311: Climate Change and Society
  • SOC 3312: Environment and Development
  • SOC 3313: Sociology of Health and Environmental Science
  • SOC 3314: Environmental Inequality and Justice
  • SOC 3315: Human Ecology and Society
  • SOC 3316: Business, Civil Society, and the Environment
  • SOC 3317: Energy Transitions and Society
  • SOC 3318: Sociology of Green Jobs
  • SOC 3321: Population and Society (Mariano Sana)*
  • SOC 221: Environmental Inequality and Justice
  • WGS 1111-04: Environmental Justice (Terrie Spetalnick)*

Capstone requirement: ENVS 278. Seminar (David Hess)

*Some courses have multiple sections. In those cases the faculty name and title of the section is given. Other sections may not count toward the requirements of the minor.