Students who major in Environmental Studies are required to choose 4 core courses, and then select their area of “concentration” or specialization. These are normally defined as one of the world’s grand environmental challenges, described below. Students are also expected to take several courses in the same discipline to help develop an analytical lens to better understand the problem and evaluate possible remedies. There is no single recipe for the correct balance between disciplinary and problem focused courses, however at least 2 courses from the same discipline should provide a minimal foundation for students pursuing the BA degree. Meeting the requirements of a Multidisciplinary Academic Program such as Global Health, Energy, or Human Rights Studies or double majoring provide additional depth to the concentration. Concentrations are more specialized in the BS program, and completing the Pre-Medical Degree requirements provides an example. For each degree we anticipate that students will learn research methods, analytic skills, theories, and their applications to real problems. The concentration is meant to prepare students to conduct their senior essay.
Ideally, course selection in the concentration should proceed with thoughtful intention. Coursework should provide context so you can further understanding of the scientific, historical, political, legal, economic, and/or cultural dimensions of a serious environmental challenge, or a scientific research question. By senior year, students should develop the capacity to: articulate a clear causal research question; conduct a literature review focused on their question; acquire research skills needed to collect, analyze, and interpret scientific evidence. Students should also be prepared to write a clear and articulate senior essay prospectus that captures the purposes, methods, plausible hypotheses, findings, and interpretations of their efforts. Students should learn to judge problem severity, to evaluate possible remedies, and to conceive of new solutions that could be efficient, equitable, and effective.
Students work with the DUS to select the six courses that fit their academic goals and count toward the concentration. The list of concentration courses should include at least one course that emphasizes research methods appropriate to the concentration or the essay and it must include an advanced seminar (200 level or above) with a focus on research and writing. Students in the BS Program must also include three SC designated courses in their concentrations. Also, students can pursue one of the major’s established concentrations, or opt to build a self-defined concentration.