Environmental Studies is a major that integrates knowledge from the natural sciences, social sciences, and humanities to analyze the complex interactions between humans and the environment, with the aim of providing students with the scholarly background and practical skills needed to address pressing environmental challenges.
The Environmental Studies major provides both breadth and depth. Students are introduced to the major through a series of interdisciplinary lower division courses (ENV S 1, 2, and 3), which emphasize integrated thinking across the natural sciences, social sciences, and humanities. They then acquire basic disciplinary expertise by completing a range of lower division prerequisites.
The next stage of training reemphasizes integration and interdisciplinarity. Under the new upper division requirements, Environmental Studies majors select three courses, one from each of three clusters (Ecology and Society; Energy/Water/Climate; The Built Environment). Although these clusters and the associated courses vary by topic, each tackles a key environmental topic drawing on research from the natural sciences, social sciences and humanities, emphasizes solutions, and requires critical thinking. Finally, students complete their training by acquiring in-depth expertise through upper division Environmental Studies electives and an outside concentration.
A student majoring in Environmental Studies has the opportunity explore a wide variety of environmental issues, including air/water pollution, animal rights, climate change, coastal processes, ecosystem restoration, endangered species, environmental ethics, environmental film and literature, environmental justice, environmental law, policy and politics, groundwater management, marine and terrestrial food systems, renewable energy, toxicology, traditional environmental knowledge, waste management, and urban and regional planning, just to name a few. Students are also encouraged to acquire hands-on skills through courses in critical thinking, environmental careers, environmental impact analysis, Geographic Information Systems (GIS), leadership, public speaking, professional writing, and research methods.
Throughout their training as Environmental Studies major, students interact with the core faculty in the Environmental Studies Program, faculty from the diversity of environmentally-related departments and disciplines throughout UCSB, as well as practicing environmental professionals from the local community.