Meet Your Major

As an environmental studies and sustainability major, 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.

Our program’s interdisciplinary curriculum weaves together courses in environmental and social sciences, the humanities, business and economics. You’ll gain the knowledge and skills you need to:

  • Use problem-solving to improve the environment.
  • View the environment as a complex whole that’s affected by interconnected ecological, economic and political factors.
  • Master quantitative methods, qualitative analysis and critical thinking about the environment and sustainability.
  • Learn and apply fundamental principles of life and social sciences, business and the humanities to environmental issues.
  • Conduct literature reviews to obtain, critically assess and organize information related to the environment and sustainability.
  • Investigate, diagnose and propose solutions to environmental problems.

Hands-On Learning

You will participate in a community internship during your junior year. These internships take place in a wide array of public and private organizations focused on environmental policy, business, research, regulation, enforcement, ethics and education. The ESS program director will help you secure an internship that matches your academic interests and skills. You will submit a work log, write an essay, and provide a review of your performance by your internship supervisor. 

Recent environmental studies internships include work with:

Student Green Team
Another source of hands-on learning is the Student Green Team where you can work on a variety of sustainability activities at Merrimack, from recycling to campus clean-up. Our students in ESS 1050 also work on independent research projects on how to make the Merrimack campus more sustainable. 

Interdisciplinary Experiential Learning

  • Our environmental ethics students have collaborated with graphic design students and faculty to promote UN Sustainable Development Goals.
  • Our seniors have worked with environmental design students to test if hand-pulling can manage invasive plant outbreaks in Harold Parker State Forest.

Senior Project
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. 

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.

Below are just a few of the many positions available in this field:

  • Environmental inspector
  • Biological monitor
  • Watershed coordinator
  • Water quality technician
  • Natural scientist
  • Green design professional

What You’ll Take

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

Core Courses (complete all)

ESS 1050

Environmental Studies and Sustainability Gateway 

BIO 2009

Environmental Science

PHL 2070 

Environmental Ethics

ESS 4850 

Community Internship

ESS 4820

Senior Seminar/Sustainability Project I

ESS 4920

Senior Seminar/Sustainability Project II

Tracking in the Environmental Studies and Sustainability Major

Beyond the required core, you may also pursue three different tracks:

  • Environmental Business and Policy
  • Environmental Science
  • Social Sustainability

Environmental Business and Policy Track 

In this track you’ll learn about effective, responsible policy on domestic and global environmental issues in the private and public sectors and at federal and local levels. You will study basic environmental science, energy management, social science and business as it relates to sustainable development. In addition, you’ll explore how social, political and economic values affect environmental policies.

Eligible courses include the following:

BUS 1100 

Introduction to Business (required) (P)

COM 3331

Communication and Nonprofit Organizing (SS)

ECO 3305

Ecological Economics (SS)

ESS 3350

Sustainable Business Practices (required) (P)

ESS 3450 

Sustainable Energy (SS)

ESS 3550 

Environmental Policy (SS)

HIS 3335 

World Environment History 1300 - Present (H)

HIS 3525 

Environmental History of North America (H)

POL 2121 

Intro to Public Administration  (SS)

Environmental Science Track 

In this track, you’ll focus on both pure and applied sciences, including biology, chemistry, health science and engineering. You’ll explore the intersection of human society and the natural world, discover how environmental problems are inherently interdisciplinary, and investigate the role science plays in solving environmental problems. Fieldwork and community-based service play an important role in this track.

Eligible courses include the following:

BIO 2010

Ecology (S)

BIO 3064

Marine Biology (S)

BIO 3071

Conservation and Restoration Biology (S)

EEN 1177

Renewable Energy and the Environment (S)

EEN 3270

Energy, Generation, Conservation and Technology (S)

ESS 3450

Sustainable Energy (SS)

HIS 3380

Science, Technology and Society (H)

PHL 2110

Environmental Philosophy (H)

PHL 3050

Philosophy of Science (H)

Social Sustainability Track 

In this track, you’ll explore the ethical, historical and political dimensions of nature and society. You’ll learn how environmental problems often arise from power relations and unequal control over natural resources, and you’ll gain an appreciation for our duty to address these problems. Because solutions require innovative thinking, you’ll be challenged to develop your environmental imagination — that is, to envision an ecologically healthier world than the one we currently inhabit.

Eligible courses include the following:

ENG 3745

Green Screen: Environmental Film (H)

ENG 4120

The New England Shore (H) 

HIS 3320

The American City (H)

HIS 3335

World Environment History 1300-Present (H)

HIS 3525 

Environmental History of North America (H)

PHL 2110

Environmental Philosophy (H)

PHL 2120

Ethics, Ecology, and the Beauty of Nature (H)

RTS 3030

Humans, Earth and the Sacred: Religion and the Environment (H)

SOC 3600

Sociology of Health (SS)

SOJ 1000

Introduction to Social Justice (Theory and Practice) (SS)

WGS 3000

Thinking Green: Environmental Justice, Gender and Animal Rights (H)

WRT 2020

Writing for Social Change (H)

Open Electives (eight credits)

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.


In addition to the core courses, you must take at least four credits in the humanities, sciences and social sciences or professional programs. These courses are marked with an H, S, SS or P above.