Environmental and Sustainability Sciences Major

Cornell University's program in Environment and Sustainability (E&S) is guided by a single principle: understanding and resolving environmental problems requires an interdisciplinary approach. The cross-college program supports the Environmental and Sustainability Sciences (ESS) undergraduate major in both the College of Agriculture & Life Sciences and the College of Arts & Sciences. The Environmental and Sustainability core curriculum, provides a comprehensive and integrated view of the biological, physical-chemical, ecological, human and social dimensions of the environment. Students will advance their critical ability to solve real-world environmental problems, affect decisions involving environmental policy, resource management, biodiversity conservation and human health.

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 (EBAE)
  • Environmental Economics (EE)
  • Environmental Humanities (EH)
  • Environmental Policy and Governance (EPG)
  • Land, Air and Water Resources (LAWR)
  • An individualized concentration that is student-designed (ISD)

Employment Fields

  • Agriculture, farming
  • Biotechnology
  • Business
  • Climate action
  • Communication
  • Education
  • Energy
  • Environmental consulting
  • Food production, security
  • Forestry, fisheries, wildlife
  • Government, non-governmental agencies
  • Healthcare
  • International development
  • Law
  • Natural resource conservation, management
  • Policy analysis
  • Research
  • Sustainable design, urban planning
  • Water resources

What recent graduates are doing

Analyst, Civic Consulting Alliance

Category Specialist, Walmart eCommerce

Clean Water Associate, Environment America

Digital Content Associate, Defenders of Wildlife

Program Associate, Environmental Defense Fund, Coastal Resilience

Solar Consultant, Brooklyn Solarworks

Graduate Education: Research, Pre-Vet, Pre-Law, Pre-Med, Engineering

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.

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.

HIST 2581: Environmental History

This lecture course serves as an introduction to the historical study of humanity’s interrelationship with the natural world. Environmental history is a quickly evolving field, taking on increasing importance as the environment itself becomes increasingly important in world affairs. The course is designed as an intensely interdisciplinary course: we’ll view history through the lenses of ecology, literature, art, film, law, anthropology, and geography.

NTRES 2201/ BSOC 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.

More about Environmental and Sustainability Sciences