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2021-2022 Undergraduate & Graduate Catalog
Environmental and Sustainability Studies
Environmental and sustainability studies draw upon a variety of disciplines - arts and humanities, physical and life sciences, and economic and policy studies - to develop a holistic, place-based, and solutions-oriented understanding of environmental and sustainability challenges. While all aspects of humans' interaction with their environments may be relevant to environmental and sustainability studies, students organize their studies around one or more of four focus areas: sustainable food systems, energy, water resources, or culture and the built environment.
Students will gain the broad educational background needed to create positive change as leaders, thinkers, decision-makers, and citizens. The program emphasizes a practical approach to environmental issues through collaborative problem-solving, involvement in faculty-led research projects, internships, practicums, and community engagement projects. Our students gain an understanding of the way interconnected physical, institutional, and cultural systems shape our attitudes and behavior toward the environment. They have first-hand experience addressing large and complex "wicked problems" from an interdisciplinary perspective.
Sustainability practitioners seek to understand and address such problems through the lens of the "triple bottom line," which highlights the environmental, social, and economic impacts of our actions. This orientation is reflected in the organization of coursework under three "perspectives" categories that highlight social and cultural considerations, physical and life science considerations, and political and economic considerations. The arts, humanities, and social sciences create, interpret, and analyze cultural narratives that influence humans' interactions with their environments. Knowledge from the physical and life sciences defines the context and limits of humans' interactions with their environments. Policy studies, economics, and social sciences describe and analyze social structures that influence humans' interactions with their environments. Students pursue either a B.A. or B.S. degree.
Businesses, government, and non-profit organizations are increasingly interested in implementing environmental and sustainability initiatives. Graduates are prepared to pursue careers in the emerging field of sustainability implementation (for example, as sustainability practitioners or officers in industry, government, and the non-profit sector), and in a wide variety of other occupations that involve environmental and sustainability communication, advocacy, outreach, education, and research. Students may also pursue postgraduate studies in areas such as law, public policy, administration, business, or environmental humanities.
The 35 to 37 credit major in environmental and sustainability studies (ENS) combines academic foundations in various disciplines with practical experience in interdisciplinary research and problem-solving, so as to prepare graduates to work effectively in business, nonprofit, civic, or governmental roles that support sustainability and environmental responsibility.
The 21 credit minor in environmental and sustainability studies is structured for students in any major who have a strong interest in environmental and sustainability issues.
The 16 to 20 credit sustainable food systems certificate provides skills and experience necessary to address the role of food in community life.
The following programs are available: