The Environmental Studies Program offers an interdisciplinary minor designed to help students acquire an understanding of the complex issues and concerns associated with the environment. Building on courses from across the humanities, social sciences, and natural sciences, the Environmental Studies minor offers a coherent curriculum addressing some of the most pressing ecological, political, economic, social, and ethical problems of the contemporary world.
Students who minor in Environmental Studies will study issues and ideas including: global climate change; resource management, including excessive consumption and the just distribution of resources; genetically modified crops and organisms; biodiversity; wilderness preservation; pollution pressures on the land, air, and sea; sustainable development; the rights and value of non-human animals and nature; energy production; population and consumption; the role of the environment in local, national, and international politics; international agencies and treaties addressing environmental issues; environmental ethics; and environmental justice.
The Environmental Studies Program is dedicated to fostering a genuine spirit of interdisciplinary exchange, across both traditional disciplinary lines and among the various colleges and schools on campus. Faculty from a variety of departments, schools, and colleges may teach courses cross-listed in Environmental Studies, and students from across the University community will find an appropriate niche in the program through its intentionally interdisciplinary nature.
Environmental Studies Minor Student Learning Outcomes
Environmental Studies minor students will know:
- The primary environmental issues confronting humans in the 21st century (e.g., anthropogenic climate change, loss of biodiversity, resource consumption, peak oil, etc.)
- The fundamental science that frames and makes comprehensible current debates about environmental issues (e.g., the carbon cycle)
- How to assess and grasp the moral and ethical significance of environmental crises and the possible responses to those crises using multiple approaches or frames (e.g., utilitarian, deontological, intrinsic value, virtue theory, pragmatic, etc.)
- The practical challenges (e.g., political, economic, etc.) associated with various possible responses to environmental crises.
Environmental Studies minor students will be able to:
- Apply diverse perspectives and methodologies (ways) of addressing environmental questions (e.g., philosophical, economic, scientific, political, theological, etc.), transcending traditional disciplinary boundaries in favor of a more holistic perspective
- Apply the knowledge and analytic skills they have acquired in the course of their studies to real-world issues, bridging the supposed gap between theory and practice
- Demonstrate the ability to write, speak, and think clearly and critically about the issues studied in the minor.
Environmental Studies minor students will value:
- The diverse perspectives and values (e.g., political, cultural, religious, etc.) amongst the various stakeholders in environmental challenges
- The importance of good science in framing environmental questions
- The role of both a) personal transformation (e.g., lifestyle choices, consumptive dispositions, etc.) and b) social transformation (e.g., community involvement, political action, addressing environmental justice and environmental racism, etc.) in any response to environmental challenges.
The Environmental Studies minor consists of six courses that can be satisfied with between 18 and 24 semester hours; however, given practical issues related to semester hours in different colleges and departments, students will generally complete the minor with 22 semester hours of work. Both foundation courses are lower division, and the Capstone seminar is an upper division course. The three distribution courses may include one lower division course.
1. Foundations Courses (7 semester hours)
2. Distribution Courses
- Humanities Elective 3-4 semester hours
- Social Science Elective 3-4 semester hours
- Natural Science Elective 3-4 semester hours
3. Capstone Course (4 semester hours)
Alternative courses can be substituted at the discretion of the Director. Students are encouraged to contact the Director to inquire about and propose alternative courses that may fulfill Distribution Course requirements, aside from those listed below.
II. Humanities Distribution
III. Social Science Distribution
IV. Natural Science Distribution