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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 Environmental Justice; Sustainability; Climate Change; Conservation of Living Systems; Policy and Planning; Education; Communication; and Food Studies.

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.

Admission Requirements

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

 Bachelor of Arts degree with a major in Environmental Studies

Credential 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.

Completion Requirements

64-76 credits

  1. Core Courses (21 credits): ENVIR 100, ENVIR 101, ENVIR 301, ENVIR 302, ENVIR 401
  2. Integrating Disciplines: (28-40 credits). Courses listed in multiple categories may count towards only one category. No more than 6 of the 8 restricted electives may be at the lower division level (100 and/or 200 level). Relevant independent study courses, study abroad credits, and other courses not listed may count towards requirement areas if approved in advance by the Environmental Studies adviser.
    1. Analytical Methods (3-5 credits): one course from ARCHY 208, ENVIR 310, ESRM 250, ESRM 304, ESS 420, GEOG 258, GEOG 326, GEOG 360, OCEAN 452/FISH 452, Q SCI 381, STAT 220, STAT 221/CS&SS 221/SOC 221
    2. Biological Systems (3-5 credits): one course from BIOL 180, BIOL 315, BIOL 476, ENVIR 240, ENVIR 280, ESRM 350, ESRM 362/ENVIR 362, ESRM 458, ESRM 473, FHL 275, FISH 250/OCEAN 250/BIOL 250, FISH 323
    3. Earth Systems Literacy (3-5 credits): one course from ATM S 211, ATM S 350, CEE 250, CHEM 120, ENVIR 240, ENVIR 280, ESS 201, ESS 203, ESS 230/OCEAN 230, GEOG 205, G H 220/ENV H 220, OCEAN 450
    4. Economics/Business (3-5 credits): one course from ECON 200, ENVIR 439, ESRM 235/ENVIR 235/ECON 235, ESRM 320, ESRM 321, ESRM 461, ESRM 465, FISH 230/ECON 230, JSIS B 352, PUBPOL 201, PUBPOL 313, CM 335
    5. Environmental Justice (5 credits): one course from AIS 380, AIS 385, ANTH 211/AES 211/ENVIR 211, ANTH 325/CHSTU 322, ANTH 361, ENGL 265, ENVIR 460/ESRM 460, ENVIR 439, GEOG 272, HSTAA 221/ENVIR 221, HSTAA 308/AIS 308/ENVIR 308, PHIL 243/ENVIR 243
    6. Policy/Governance (3-5 credits): one course from ARCTIC 400, ENV H 473, ENVIR 460/ESRM 460, ESRM 400, ESRM 470, FISH 323, G H 418/ENV H 418, JSIS B 455, JSIS B 350/SCAND 350/ENVIR 360, POL S 384/ENVIR 384, POL S 385/ENVIR 385, SMEA 201/ENVIR 201
    7. Sustainability (3-5 credits): one course from COM 325, ENV H 306, ENVIR 239, ENVIR 420, ENVIR 431/ESRM 431/PSYCH 431, ENVIR 439, ENVIR 480, G H 220/ENV H 220, GEOG 473, JSIS B 352, M E 415/ENVIR 415/CEE 495, NUTR 312/ENVIR 312
    8. Values and Cultures (5 credits): one course from ANTH 210, ANTH 458, ENGL 265, ENGL 365, ENVIR 315, ENVIR 400, ESRM 371/SOC 379/ENVIR 379, HSTAA 221/ENVIR 221, HSTAS 440/JSIS A 440, JSIS B 351, ARCTIC 391/JSIS B 391, PHIL 243/ENVIR 243
  3. Capstone Experience (15 credits): minimum 15 credits from ENVIR 490, ENVIR 491, ENVIR 492
  4. GPA Requirements: Minimum 2.00 cumulative GPA for courses applied towards the major.

Students electing to pursue either a double major or double degree are limited to a 15 credit overlap of credits between the two major/degree programs.

 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.