Meet Your Major

When you pursue your bachelor of arts or bachelor of science in environmental sciences and sustainability (ESS), you will explore the impact that human activity has on the natural systems of the planet, and you’ll learn to rethink, redesign and re-create the way humans use natural resources.

What You’ll Learn

  • You’ll examine how scientific, cultural, economic and political ideas shape our behavior toward the natural environment.
  • You’ll investigate how the natural environment affects society and how natural systems function.
  • You’ll explore human connections to the natural world, ethics and values, and technological and economic relationships to sustainability,
  • You’ll develop strategies to motivate environmentally sustainable behavior and integrate them into society. 

Hands-On Learning

The ESS curriculum encourages experiential learning, where you learn by doing and connect your coursework to the larger world.

Junior Year
Community internship opportunities are available your junior year and take place in a wide array of public and private organizations focused on environmental policy, business, research, regulation, enforcement, ethics and education. 

Senior Year
During your senior year, you will also complete a two-semester capstone sustainability project while working with a team of students, faculty and community partners.

There are also opportunities for independent research, service and international study.

Career Options

Majoring in environmental studies and sustainability can lead to widespread career opportunities in environmental justice, climate studies, conservation, environmental policy, environmental law, landscape architecture, environmental health, land use and planning, and environmental communications. Positions in this field may include environmental inspector, biological monitor, watershed coordinator, water quality technician, natural scientist and green design professional.

Some of our recent graduates have been hired at the following institutions:

Our graduates have matriculated to a number of graduate programs, including: 

Two Degree Options   

Degree B.A. B.S.
Minimum credits 40 credits 44 credits
(*this doesn’t include three cognate courses)
Concentrations
  • Environmental Business and Policy
  • Science and Society
  • Social Sustainability
  • Environmental Analysis
  • Environmental and Natural Systems 
  • Environmental Operations
Additional studies Second related major/minor recommended *Three cognate courses (12 credits) required as pre-requisites to science courses
Open Electives Eight credits of the major are open to you to either deepen your understanding of a particular area of sustainability or to broaden your thinking. Space is available to earn a minor in biology, chemistry or math. 

 

Learn More About the Differences Between the Degrees

What You’ll Take

This bachelor’s degree program requires a minimum of 124 credits. You must complete a minimum of 40 credits in the B.A. major and 44 credits in the B.S. major.

Common Core Curriculum
(Both B.A. and B.S. ESS majors must complete all of the following courses)
ESS 1050  Environmental Studies and Sustainability Gateway 
ESS 1060 Environmental Science Gateway 
ESS 4820 Senior Seminar/Sustainability Project I 
ESS 4850 Community Internship
ESS 4920 Senior Seminar/Sustainability Project II
PHL 2070 Environmental Ethics

B.A. in ESS Concentrations

Environmental Business and Policy

This concentration, available in the B.A. major,  will examine what constitutes effective and responsible environmental policy in the private and public sectors. The track will focus on both domestic and global environmental issues with an emphasis on both federal and local environmental policy. You’ll gain awareness of basic environmental science, energy management, social science and business concepts and issues related to sustainable development. You’ll learn to recognize the challenges of sustainable development as well as the opportunities and limits for the private sector in meeting these challenges. You will examine, analyze and actively participate in exploring how social, political and economic values influence environmental polices. You will also see how federal and local policies (including regulations, taxes, laws and incentives) influence values.

In addition to taking your common core classes (listed above), you must select at least 16 credits from the following courses:

COM 3742 Communication and Nonprofit Organizing
COM 4200 Environmental Communication 
ECO 3305 Ecological Economics 
ESS 3350 Sustainable Business Practices 
ESS 3450 Sustainable Energy
ESS 3550 Environmental Policy 
HIS 3335 World Environment History 1300-Present  
HIS 3525  Environmental History of North America
HSC 3103   Global Public Health 
HSC 3302 Introduction to Public Health
HSC 3322 Environmental Health
POL 2121 Public Administration
POL 2300 The Politics of Food 

Science and Society

This concentration, available in the B.A. major, addresses environmental problems through a mixture of scientific methods and social knowledge. Not a science research degree, the B.A. is designed to provide you with the scientific background you will need to be knowledgeable in the function of natural systems. But the emphasis is placed on using this knowledge for public consumption, for example, as a science writer, politician or environmental educator. Fieldwork opportunities and community-based service are emphasized.

In addition to taking your common core classes (listed above), you must select at least 16 credits from the following courses:

BIO 2010 Ecology
BIO 3064 Marine Biology 
BIO 3071 Conservation and Restoration Biology
EEN 3270 Energy, Generation, Conservation and Technology
ESS 1177 Renewable Energy and the Environment
ESS 3450 Sustainable Energy
GEN 2060 Environmental Geology: Resources
HIS 3380 Science, Technology and Society 
HSC 3103 Global Public Health
HSC 3302 Introduction to Public Health
HSC 3322 Environmental Health
PHL 2110 Environmental Philosophy
PHL 3050 Philosophy of Science

Social Sustainability

This concentration, available in the B.A. major, will expose you to the ethical, historical and political dimensions of the interaction between nature and society. You will learn how environmental problems often arise from power relations and unequal control over natural resources. And you will also discover why we have a duty to address these problems and to identify strategies for responsible action that can lead to social change. Because solutions to these problems will require innovative thinking, courses in this area also call upon you to develop your environmental imaginations and see an ecologically healthier world than we have today. 

In addition to taking your common core classes (listed above), you must select at least 16 credits from the following courses:

COM 4200 Environmental Communication
ENG 3745 Green Screen: Environmental Film
ENG 4102 The New England Shore
ESS 3600 Garden Memoirs
ESS 3100 Environmental Justice
HIS 3525 Environmental History of North America
HIS 3335 World Environment History 1300-Present 
HIS 3320 The American City
PHL 2110 Environmental Philosophy
PHL 2120 Ethics, Ecology, and the Beauty of Nature
POL 2300 The Politics of Food
RTS 3030 Humans, Earth, & the Sacred: Religion & the Environment
SOJ 1000 Introduction to Social Justice (Theory & Practice)
WGS 3000 Thinking Green: Environmental Justice, Gender, and Animal Rights
WRT 2020 Writing for Social Change

 

B.S. in ESS Concentrations

Environmental Analysis

This concentration, available in the B.S. major, will provide you with the ability to design and implement environmental assessments using the tools of the physical sciences - primarily chemistry - and interpret the results. It is best suited for students seeking careers that would use modern analytical instrumentation to diagnose environmental problems and seek solutions.

In addition to taking your common core classes (listed above), you must select at least 16 credits from the following courses:

CHM 1110 General Chemistry I
CHM 1120 General Chemistry II
CHM 2210 Organic Chemistry I
CHM 3410 Analytical Chemistry
ESS 3001 Introduction to GIS
ESS 3550 Environmental Policy
ESS 2410 Environmental Chemistry
ESS 3085 Environmental Management
MTH 1111 Basic Statistics 

Environmental and Natural Systems

This concentration, available in the B.S. major, is designed for students seeking to understand the functioning of ecological systems and the human impact upon them. You will examine how ecological systems form over time by means of complex relationships between the organic and inorganic environment and how to manage or conserve such systems. It is best suited for students seeking careers in resource management, conservation or ecologically-oriented careers.

In addition to taking your common core classes (listed above), you must select at least 16 credits from the following courses:

BIO 2010 Ecology
BIO 3060 Plant Biology
BIO 3064 Marine Biology
BIO 3071 Conservation and Restoration Biology 
CHM 1110 General Chemistry I
ESS 3001 Introduction to GIS
ESS 3085 Environmental Management
ESS 3550 Environmental Policy
ESS 4010 Environmental Consulting
MTH 1111 Basic Statistics

Environmental Operations

This concentration, available in the B.S. major, is for students seeking to explore the possibilities of designing with nature. You’ll learn the scientific and technical background to the concepts of sustainability that guide human development. It is best suited for you if you are seeking a career in construction management, waste management or landscape architecture.

In addition to taking your common core classes (listed above), you must select at least 16 credits from the following courses:

CEN 2001 Site Engineering
CHM 1110 General Chemistry I 
ESS 3001 Introduction to GIS
ESS 3085 Environmental Management
ESS 3550 Environmental Policy
ESS 4010 Environmental Consulting
GEN 2060 Environmental Geology: Resources
MTH 1111 Basic Statistics
MTH 1217 Calculus I
PHY 2211 Physics I