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Environmental and Sustainability Sciences Major

The Environmental and Sustainability Sciences (ESS) major is offered in collaboration with the College of Arts & Sciences, where you can explore additional classes.  Students in the ESS major will gain a comprehensive and integrated view of the biological, physical-chemical, ecological, and social dimensions of environmental and natural resource issues. This interdisciplinary and integrated major seeks to advance students’ critical abilities to solve real-world environmental problems, manage social-ecological systems in a sustainable manner, and affect decisions involving environmental policy, resource management, and biodiversity conservation and human health. The ESS core curriculum provides fundamental knowledge of the biological, chemical and physical sciences, mathematics and quantitative analysis, and social sciences and humanities.

The curriculum prepares students during their freshmen and sophomore years to pursue a concentration in-depth. Fundamental knowledge of all dimensions of the interdisciplinary curriculum, allows students to understand where their selected concentration fits together with the larger set of disciplinary skills needed to derive sustainable solutions to environmental challenges.

Concentrations include

  • Environmental Biology and Applied Ecology 
  • Environmental Economics 
  • Environmental Humanities
  • Environmental Policy and Governance 
  • Land, Air and Water Resources 
  • An individualized concentration that is student-designed 

Employment Fields

  • Consulting
  • General Business
  • Project Assistant/Venture Capital
  • Business Intelligence Analyst

What recent graduates are doing

Securityhunter Inc, Analyst

UCH Venture Capital, Project Assistant

Graduate Education, MEng

Sample Classes

BIOEE 1610 Ecology and the Environment

This course provides an introduction to ecology, covering interactions between organisms and the environment at scales of populations, communities, and ecosystems. Ecological principles are used to explore the theory and applications of major issues facing humanity in the 21st century, including population dynamics, disease ecology, biodiversity and invasive species, global change, and other topics of environmental sustainability.

NTRES 2201/DSOC 2201 Society and Natural Resources

The actions of people are crucial to environmental well-being. This course addresses the interrelationships between social phenomena and the natural (i.e., biological-physical-chemical) environment. It is intended to (1) increase student awareness of these interconnections in their everyday lives; (2) introduce students to a variety of social science perspectives, including sociology, economics, psychology, and political science, that help us make sense of these connections; (3) identify the contributions of each of these perspectives to our understanding of environmental problems; and (4) discuss how natural resource management and environmental policy reflect these perspectives.

EAS 2680 Climate and Global Warming

This course familiarizes students from a range of disciplines with such contemporary issues in climatology as global warming and El Nino. It introduces the natural greenhouse effect, past climates, and observed and projected climate changes and impacts, and covers natural climate variations and their consequences and predictability.

PLSCS 3650 Environmental Chemistry: Soil, Air, and Water

This course provides an overview of the chemistry of the biosphere and biogeochemical processes that control the fluxes, concentrations, and bioavailability of essential elements and pollutants in soil, air, and water.

More about Environmental and Sustainability Sciences from the Department