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Environmental Studies and Sustainability

Major Requirements for Students Admitted Prior to Fall 2016

Note well!  These requirements pertain only to students admitted prior to Fall 2016.

Satisfying the requirements for the Environmental Studies and Sustainability Major includes completing a minimum of 40 credits in the major. The curriculum is designed to be rigorous yet flexible.  This flexibility enables students to expand the number of environmental studies courses they pursue or choose a minor or even a major in another discipline. There are also Tracking Options (see below).

ESS Degree Requirements

Required Core Curriculum (24 credits)

  • ESS 1050 Environmental Studies Gateway (required introductory course) – 4 credits
  • BUS 1100 Introduction to Business – 4 credits
  • ESS/MGT 3350 Sustainable Business Practices – 4 credits
  • PHL 2070 Environmental Ethics
  • ESS 4850 Community Internship – 4 credits
  • ESS 4820 Senior Seminar/Project I – 2 credits
  • ESS 4920 Senior Seminar/Project II – 2 credits

Beyond the required core courses, students select courses from within the following three areas:  Liberal Arts, Science and Engineering and Business.  Environmental Studies and Sustainability approved courses can be taken from choices in Biology, Business, Economics, Electrical Engineering, Health Science, History, Philosophy, Political Science, Sociology, Religious and Theological Studies and many other Departments.

Science and Engineering Courses – minimum of 8 credits

  • BIO 2009 Environmental Science
  • BIO 2010 Ecology
  • BIO 3009 Ecology, Environment and Society
  • BIO 3064 Marine Biology
  • BIO 3071 Conservation and Restoration Biology
  • BIO 3090 Global Field Studies
  • EEN/ESS 1177 Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency
  • HSC 3103 Global Public Health
  • MTH 1111 Basic Statistics

Liberal Arts Courses – minimum of 4 credits

  • ENG 3745  Environmental Film
  • HIS 3335 World Environmental History 
  • HIS 3380 Science, Technology, and Society
  • HIS 3525 Environmental History of North America
  • PHL 2110 Environmental Philosophy
  • PHL 2120 Ethics, Ecology, and the Beauty of Nature
  • PHL 3050 Philosophy of Science
  • RTS 3030 Humans, the Earth, and the Sacred
  • SOC 3600 Sociology of Health

Economics and Business Courses – minimum of 4 credits

  • ECO 1201 An Introduction to Economics
  • ECO 1202 Topics in Introductory Economics
  • ECO 3305 Ecological Economics
  • ESS 3450 Sustainable Energy
  • ESS 3550 Environmental Policy


TRACKING in Environmental Studies and Sustainability

Tracking provides our students with the opportunity to get more curricular depth in a specific focus of study within the breadth of ESS course offerings.  Tracking also provides a stronger linkage between the undergraduate curriculum and potential career and post-baccalaureate fields of study.  Our four tracks are: Environmental ScienceEnvironmental PolicyEnvironmental Justice and Environmental Business.  All tracks combine a rigorous and diverse set of courses from the social sciences, humanities, business, and the natural sciences to help students develop conceptual and problem solving skills to address global issues that are by nature complex and interdisciplinary.

Environmental Science Track

This track is for students who have interests in the pure and/or applied sciences, including Biology, Chemistry, Computer Science, Engineering, Health Science, Mathematics and/or Physics.  Students will engage with coursework that explores the intersection between science and society, and recognize the vast inter-dependencies between human society and the natural world and how the human-constructed systems of our global technological society interact with and depend upon natural ecosystems.   Students will also explore how human environmental problems are inherently interdisciplinary and can only be solved using skills from several disciplines, including the natural sciences, applied sciences, economics, political science and the humanities.

Environmental Policy Track

This track will examine environmental problems from a policy perspective. The track will focus on both domestic and global environmental issues with an emphasis on both federal and local environmental policy.  Students will examine, analyze, and actively participate in exploring how social, political and economic values influence environmental policy, and vice versa, how federal and local policies (including regulations, taxes, laws, and incentives), influence values. Students will learn what constitutes effective environmental policy and how we achieve it to protect the environment and ourselves.

Environmental Justice Track 

Degradation of the natural environment contributes to numerous social ills including adverse health effects from pollution and disease, famine, and hunger. Increased competition for diminishing natural resources adversely affects the world’s poor. Poor nations pay the costs for the practices of wealthier nations and poor citizens of wealthy nations often also pay an inordinate social and health costs. According to David Schlosberg (Defining Environmental Justice, Oxford: 2007), Environmental Justice must take account of all people, regardless of race, nationality, income, or gender when making decisions concerning the development, implementation and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations, and policies. Students taking this track will be exposed to the economic, ethical, historical, and political dimensions of the interaction between nature and society not only to understand how environmental problems often arise from power relations and unequal control over natural resources, but also to appreciate why we have a duty to address these problem and to identify strategies and policies for responsible action.  Students will be expected to apply fundamental principles to a variety of ongoing environmental controversies, including climate change, fossil fuel dependency, agri-business, biodiversity conservation, pollution and health, and environmental justice.

Business and Economics Track 

This track focuses on the delivery of economic, social, and environmental business performance where students apply models, tools, best practices and frameworks to incorporate social and environmental dimensions into daily operations of businesses.  Students will gain awareness of basic environmental science, energy management, social science and business concepts and issues related to sustainable development.  Students will recognize the challenges of sustainable development as well as the opportunities and limits for the private sector in meeting these challenges.

Double Major and Minor Option

In order to give students depth (in addition to breadth), all students in the ESS Program are also strongly encouraged to at least minor in another degree program at Merrimack College or pursue a double major. This avoids the long-noted trap found in many undergraduate environmental studies programs of losing balance and providing too much breadth and/or lack of curricular cohesion at the expense of depth.  In addition, there is flexibility in the exact sequence and semester offerings of many courses.  This flexibility gives ESS majors opportunities to not only minor or major in another discipline, but also in scheduling their Community Internship and Senior Seminar/Project requirements as well as to pursue any Study Abroad options. 

More Info

Linda Tankersley
Admin. Assistant
Cushing 107



Bryan Bannon

Director, Environmental Studies and Sustainability and Associate Professor of Philosophy