Environmental and Sustainability Sciences Curriculum

The curriculum in Environmental and Sustainability Sciences, also known as ESS, seeks to advance students’ ability to understand and address real-world environmental problems, manage social-ecological systems in a sustainable manner, and affect decisions involving environmental policy, resource management, biodiversity conservation, and human health.

Curriculum for 2015-2016 Academic Year

The ESS curriculum comprises a required set of core courses and completion of a selected concentration. All ESS students are required to take the core courses outlined in Table 1 in the ESS Core Curriculum, Requirements, and Concentrations document. In addition, all students must select one of five concentrations, each consisting of five additional courses. The concentrations are Environmental Biology and Applied Ecology (EBAE), Environmental Economics (EE), Environmental Policy and Governance (EPG), Land, Air and Water Resources (LAWR, formerly Biogeochemical Sciences (BGCS)), and the Individual Student-Designed Concentration (ISD). Descriptions of the concentrations follow Table 1 in the ESS Core Curriculum, Requirements, and Concentrations document.

Students should familiarize themselves as freshmen with the requirements of concentrations in which they may be interested. Some requirements within the core curriculum are listed as categories with different options listed for fulfilling that requirement. Four of the five concentrations require or recommend that students select specific courses among those options listed. Students are encouraged to plan for an integrative independent study/project, internship, or a research honors thesis. These take advanced planning initiated by early discussion of options with an academic advisor or research mentor.

Many courses within the ESS core curriculum also meet CALS distribution requirements and, depending on the concentration, some courses within the concentrations also meet CALS distribution requirements. However, no course may be double-counted as meeting both ESS core curriculum requirements and ESS concentration requirements


Direct questions about the ESS major to Undergraduate Program Coordinator Suzanne Wapner (sw38@cornell.edu).