Requirements & Courses

The Concentration in Environmental Studies

Director: E. Binney Girdler

Six units required

The Concentration in Environmental Studies is open to students regardless of their majors and prepares students for graduate work and/or careers in a variety of areas including resource economics and management, city and regional planning, natural resource conservation, aquatic or terrestrial environments, environmental law, environmental education, environmental journalism, public administration, agribusiness, and food and population. For general advice and effective planning of their schedules, all students desiring this concentration are encouraged to see the Director as early as possible, preferably no later than the sophomore year.

Students interested in environmental studies are urged to keep this interest in mind when selecting a site for study abroad. If approved ahead of time by the Director, up to one course from study abroad can count toward the completion of the concentration. Moreover, pursuing these interests abroad emphasizes the important international dimensions of many environmental issues while often permitting students to gain familiarity with some problems (and their possible solutions) in other countries. Courses from study abroad sites in Costa Rica, Ecuador, Kenya, and Thailand are particularly suitable.


Take at least one course from each of the four numbered groups listed below (* indicates that a course has a pre-requisite course, usually a 100-level course in the same department), and two additional courses from any of the groups or the additional elective list. Study Abroad courses, Independent Study courses, and Senior Individualized Projects may be approved on a case by case basis; please consult with the Program Director. Course descriptions are listed on the Academic Catalog.

Four required courses (one from each of four numbered groups below):

I. Natural Science

ENVS 115 Environmental Science (to be taken as early as possible)

II. Social Science

ECON 235 Environmental and Resource Economics* (highly recommended)
ANSO 232 Nature and Society
ANSO 350 Political History of Western Environmental Thought*
POLS 267 Environmental and Political Theory
POLS 295 Special Topics: Comparative Env Politics
CES 200 Body, Land, and Labor

III. Arts & Humanities

ARTX 234 Structure & Space
ARTX 295 Art and Environmental Justice
ENGL 151 Reading the World: Environments: Gardens
ENGL 151 Reading the World: Environments – Water Stories
ENGL 156 Reading the World: Social Justice
ENGL 217 World Indigenous Literatures
ENGL/SEMN 435 American Indian Literature and the Law*
HIST 212 American Environmental History
HIST 217 History of Leisure and Recreation in America
PHIL 108 Ecological Philosophy
PHIL 310 Critical Social Theory

IV. Senior Seminar (must have senior standing to enroll)

ENVS 490 Senior Seminar 
SEMN 408 Slow Farming
ECON 490 Climate Change

Two additional elective courses selected from any courses listed above or below:

Elective Courses (do not count as one of four required categories):

BIOL 232 Plant Biology
BIOL 224 Ecology & Conservation*
CHEM 220 Analytical Chemistry*
BIOL 396 Entomology*
CES 340 Plant Communication/Kinship
PHYS 105 Sustainable Energy

* indicates that a course has a pre-requisite, usually a 100-level course in the same department

Note: Courses numbered 295, 395 and 495 are not permanent courses in the academic catalog and may not be offered regularly. Similarly, new courses with environmental or sustainability themes may be approved throughout the year that are not on the elective list. Students are encouraged to ask the Program Director for permission to count such courses as electives for the concentration. Additional special topics one-time course offerings may count as electives depending on content (e.g. ENGL, RELG); please discuss the suitability of these courses with the Program Director.