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College of the Environment

Program on the Environment

012 John M. Wallace Hall
Faculty Website

Environmental Studies at the Program on the Environment combines natural sciences, social sciences and humanities to provide students with a deep understanding of how humans interact with and influence the environment. Students learn to think critically, conduct research, apply sustainability frameworks, and communicate to diverse audiences.

 Undergraduate Programs

Program on the Environment

012 John M. Wallace Hall

 Program of Study: Major: Environmental Studies

Program Overview

Environmental Studies focuses on the interactions between humans and the environment. Building on a foundation of natural science, social science and humanities, the major offers students a flexible curriculum that includes an internship or research experience as an integral part of the capstone sequence. Concentrations for the major include Climate and Society; Conservation of Living Systems; Education and Communication; Policy and Planning; Food Studies; and Sustainability.

This program of study leads to the following credential:
  • Bachelor of Arts degree with a major in Environmental Studies
Recommended Preparation

Suggested First and Second-Year College Courses: ENVIR 100, ENVIR 200, ENVIR 250, and all foundational courses listed below.

Admission Requirements

Students in good academic standing may declare this major at any time.

 Bachelor of Arts degree with a major in Environmental Studies

Completion Requirements

82-88 credits

  1. Core Courses (20 credits): ENVIR 100, ENVIR 200, ENVIR 250, ENVIR 300
  2. Foundation Courses (31-35 credits)
    1. Biology (5 credits): BIOL 180 and one course (or sequence) from among BIOL 200, BIOL 118/BIOL 119, BIOL 250/FISH 250/OCEAN 250, ENVIR 280
    2. Biological Systems (3-5 credits): on course from BIOL 200, BIOL 250/FISH 250/OCEAN 250, ENVIR 240, ENVIR 280
    3. Chemistry (5 credits): CHEM 120 or CHEM 142
    4. Earth Systems Literacy (3-5 credits): one course from ATM S 211, ATM S 212, or ESS 201, ESS 210, ESS 230/OCEAN 230, OCEAN 200, GEOG 205
    5. Statistics (5 credits): one course from Q SCI 381, STAT 220, STAT 221/CS&SS 221/SOC 221, STAT 311
    6. Economics (5 credits): one course from ENVIR 235/ESRM 235/ECON 235 or FISH 230/ECON 230
    7. Values and Cultures (5 credits): one course from ANTH 210, ANTH 211/ENVIR 211, ENVIR 239, GEOG 272, HSTAA 221/ENVIR 221, or ENVIR 243/PHIL 243
  3. Analytical Methods (3-5 credits): one course from ESRM 304, ESRM 430, ESS 421, OCEAN 452/FISH 452, GEOG 360, GEOG 471, Q SCI 482
  4. Environmental Perspectives and Experiences (18 credits): Minimum 18 credits from the list of approved courses (see department website or advising office for list). Minimum 3 credits in each of the six following categories: perspectives: human and social dimensions; natural sciences, and policy and decision making; experiences: bioregional; international; and fieldwork. Courses listed under both perspectives and experiences may count toward either, but not both. Environmentally related independent study courses, study abroad programs, and other courses not on the approved list may count toward this requirement if approved in advance by the Environmental Studies adviser.
  5. Capstone Experience (10 credits): ENVIR 490, ENVIR 491, ENVIR 492
  6. GPA Requirements: Minimum 2.00 cumulative GPA for courses within the major.

 Program of Study: Minor: Environmental Studies

Program Overview

The Environmental Studies minor provides a broad understanding of the environment to include economic, historical, social and ethical issues surrounding current environmental challenges. Topics span human interaction with the environment, and how environmental decisions are made. The minor complements a wide variety of majors by providing an overview of how environmental topics interplay with policy, conservation, business and education.

This program of study leads to the following credential:
  • Minor in Environmental Studies

 Minor in Environmental Studies

Completion Requirements

30 credits

  1. ENVIR 100
  2. ENVIR 200 or ENVIR 250
  3. 5 credits from among ECON 235/ENVIR/235/ESRM235, HSTAA 221/ENVIR 221, and PHIL 243/ENVIR 243
  4. Remaining 15 credits drawn from the environmental perspectives course list (see program website adviser for list). At least one course (minimum 3 credits) in each environmental perspectives course category, i.e. natural sciences, human and social dimensions, and policy and decision making. 10 of these 15 credits must be at the 300- or 400-level.
  5. Minimum 2.0 for each course presented for the minor
Additional Information

Student Outcomes and Opportunities

  • Learning Objectives and Expected Outcomes: The environmental studies major offers a rigorous, interdisciplinary, experiential curriculum designed to prepare future environmental leaders to respond to bioregional and global environmental opportunities and challenges. It takes advantage of the extraordinary environmental research at the UW, and makes that social, scientific, humanistic, and professional expertise accessible to students in innovative ways. Students completing the BA in environmental studies have developed skills in the following:
    • Earth Systems Knowledge: Understand the structure, function, and integration of the Earth, its inhabitants, and its four major spheres: land, water, living things, and air.
    • Interdisciplinary Approach: Apply an interdisciplinary approach to the study of the environment, integrating multiple kinds of information, tools, methods, and scholarship from a variety of disciplines, in order to analyze and construct arguments about complex environmental issues.
    • Experiential Learning: Understand the connections between classroom and experiential learning and successfully practice multiple forms of hands-on, real world applications.
    • Communication: Demonstrate proficiency in multiple modes of communication (writing for different audiences and purposes, using a range of disciplinary norms; oral presentations and public speaking; online publishing; and visual display of environmental information).
    • Public Policy and Decision Making: Understand how uncertainty, risk, law, politics, ethics, economics, and culture interact with environmental public policy and decision making.
    • Teamwork: Collaborate as members of teams, effectively working with multiple stakeholders from various backgrounds to address environmental issues.
    • History of Environmental Inquiry: Understand and reflect critically on the intellectual and cultural history of environmental studies including the history of environmental preservation and conservation.
    • Temporal Scales: Understand various temporal scales inherent in environmental studies and situate themselves on the continuum of geologic time, evolutionary history, human environment history, and decision making for future generations.
    • Spatial Scales: Understand various spatial scales inherent in environmental studies spanning the continuum from the local/bioregional to the international/global.
    • Diversity: Understand how environmental perspectives, policies, and decisions are related to issues of diversity, privilege, and power.
    • Technical Knowledge: Be familiar with some of the technological tools commonly used to address environmental challenges.
    • Professional Development: Understand how their education will serve them as environmental professionals.
  • Instructional and Research Facilities: The Program on the Environment office in Wallace Hall Suite 12 includes a commons area for student and faculty events and presentations, four study areas, and a computer lab. Because PoE is an interdisciplinary program, students access resources, laboratories, and field stations across a range of UW departments, colleges, and schools.
  • Honors Options Available: With College Honors (Completion of Honors Core Curriculum and Departmental Honors); With Honors (Completion of Departmental Honors requirements in the major). See adviser for requirements.
  • Research, Internships, and Service Learning: All environmental studies majors complete a senior capstone experience, which includes an internship with a community-based organization or government agency, an undergraduate research project, and/or international fieldwork or study abroad.
  • Student Organizations/Associations: SAGE (Student Association for Green Environments) is a club to spread awareness for environmental issues on and off campus and to promote events for a greener, sustainable environment. SAGE is committed to community engagement and education and creating professional development opportunities for environmental studies students.