The field of environmental science is interdisciplinary in nature. The Environmental Studies Option blends a science core with a non-science focus selected from Management or Humanities & Social Sciences leading to a program of study that is compatible with the student's strengths and goals. This option is an excellent choice for a student who has broad interests and would like to work at the interface between science and society. The science core of the program is essentially identical to that for the Environmental Geoscience option giving the student a strong science background. The non-science foci are designed to add value to the basic science degree in that the student is prepared for broader employment opportunities. Students who take this option may elect to take the STEM Teaching minor in place of the non-science focus and thus prepare for a career in earth science teaching. In order to obtain certification as an Earth Science teacher, the student will also have to take one of the following Astronomy with lab courses:
The Environmental Studies option prepares the student for employment in the private and government sector, where knowledge is required in management and protection of the environment, environmental laws and regulations, natural resources, and environmental economics. Graduates of this option can have a variety of career experiences. Several are environmental lawyers. Some are teachers. Others work as environmental analysts, planners, water treatment operators, hydrological consultants, noise and air pollution specialists, and as managers in private industry and government. This option will also prepare the student for graduate work in environmental science.
Each focus is designed to achieve a specific set of goals as described below.
The Economics focus provides students with the training and background necessary to understand the economic fundamentals which motivate public and environmental policy. Students will learn the practical and theoretical foundations concerning the scope and purpose of policy. When, and under what circumstances, might government intervention improve wellbeing? What types of policies might the government impose and how do these impact environmental outcomes? Students will be prepared for employment in government agencies or industries involved in environmental policy.
The English focus prepares students for careers in public relations, public policy, government agencies, the non-profit sector, and scientific communications. Students who pursue this focus will develop an understanding of the strategies of oral and written communication and the skills necessary to be effective in each. The three required courses provide a foundation in communication skills and their practical applications. The elective courses allow students to build on this foundation while focusing on specific areas of interest, such as journalism, digital media, and technical communication. This focus provides substantial practice in writing for specific audiences and in crafting arguments, skills beneficial to students contemplating graduate work in law, public policy, or environmental studies.
Legal Studies Focus
The Legal Studies focus prepares students for employment in industry, public policy, and government agencies by providing a basic understanding of the legal and regulatory framework that environmental scientists and policymakers must work within. Knowledge from the required Environmental Law and Real Estate Law courses is essential to work in regulation, conservation, endangered species protection, Brownfield mitigation, and sustainable development, while the remaining elective courses provide a customized learning experience suitable as preparation for law school, graduate public policy programs, and graduate environmental studies programs. Practical internship opportunities and directed studies in specialized legal areas are available.
The Management Focus provides the student with basic preparation for management positions in the corporate environment. Some of the course work can also be applied towards an MBA, should you decide to continue with your management education. Even if you do not move into the management side of a particular business, the ability to understand management concepts and approaches to problems will be a useful addition to your skill set.
Modern Languages Focus
The Modern Languages focus prepares students to work in the international job market by providing competence in a foreign language. Globalization requires the ability to function in countries where English is not the first language. Students who are conversant in a second language will find that they have a competitive advantage when applying for jobs abroad. In addition, because much of international business is conducted in English, a student who is conversant in both science and technology and a second language will find that they are uniquely equipped to serve as an intermediary in business and scientific discussions.
Political Science Focus
The Political Science focus prepares students for jobs that involve interactions between environmental scientists and government. The required courses provide a basic understanding of how government functions and its role in society. Elective courses are selected to build expertise in a particular area of government – local, state, federal, and/or international relations. Given the globalization of the economy, interactions with foreign governments play an important role in dealing with environmental problems.
For a list of specific courses for each focus consult the complete Degree Pathway.