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Environmental Studies Major:
Class of 2017 and Beyond

environmental studies program

Next fall, the Environmental Studies Program will launch its interdisciplinary Environmental Studies Major. Applications will be accepted at the end of the spring 2014 semester from students in the class of 2017 for the first cohort of majors.

Learn more about the application and applying for the Environmental Studies major.

Undergraduate Program Description

The Environmental Studies Program offers an interdisciplinary curriculum to students interested in perspectives on sustainability from faculty and courses across the university. Both a major and a minor (described elsewhere in this catalog) are available to qualified students. The goals of the major are to provide students with:

  • the knowledge and perspective to cultivate rewarding lives as responsible citizens of the planet;
  • a deep understanding of the scientific, political, and cultural aspects of the world's environmental challenges;
  • the tools and creativity necessary to envision and implement paths to sustainable solutions; and
  • a solid background for environmentally related graduate programs and/or careers in business, education, law, policy, planning, government, or research.

Major Requirements

The ES major consists of a minimum of 43 credits, equivalent to at least 14 full-semester courses, as detailed below. The ES major is available to students in the class of 2017 and later years. ES major students can choose an additional major, but may count no more than one course toward both majors, or one course toward a major and minor.

A. Environmental Studies introductory seminar (ENVS 1100, one credit)
This seminar is offered in the fall semester for the new cohort of ES majors (sophomores). It involves readings of classics texts in environmental studies, and is similar in structure to Cornerstone courses.

B. Eight credits of Environmental Systems courses: EESC 2201, Environmental Systems: The Human Footprint plus three of the following courses (and labs EESC 2211-2218):

  • EESC 2202, Environmental Systems: Ecosystems,
  • EESC 2203, Environmental Systems: Water Resources,
  • EESC 2204, Environmental Systems: The Critical Zone,
  • EESC 2205, Environmental Systems: Climate Change,
  • EESC 2206, Environmental Systems: Oceans,
  • EESC 2207, Environmental Systems: Earthquakes, or
  • EESC 2208, Environmental Systems: Quantitative Methods

These are a series of two-credit half-semester courses that introduce students to the basic concepts of environmental science from a variety of perspectives and professors, with the specific goal of providing students with a foundation for further interdisciplinary study of environmental issues. Students can take one or more of these courses in any given semester.

C. Two foundation courses in environmental studies (six credits; one must be at the 2000 level or higher):

  • ECON 2278 Environmental Economics,
  • HIST 2503/ SOCY 1025 People and Nature,
  • MGMT 2145 Environmental Management,
  • SOCY 1031 Society and Environmental Transformations
  • SOCY 2200 Statistics
  • UNAS 2256 Environmental Law and Policy, or
  • PHIL 5534 Environmental Ethics

D. A concentration in a theme or discipline (six courses, 18 or more credits)
Available themes include Food and Water Sustainability and Climate Change and Societal Adaptation. Available disciplines include History, Political Science and Sociology.

Themes:

  • Food and Water Sustainability
    This theme focuses on the interrelated challenges of providing water and food for the growing human population on a finite planet with unequal access to resources. Students will gain a firm foundation in hydrology and ecology as well as related historical and cultural perspectives.
    • HIST 2503/ SOCY 1025 (counts toward requirement C)
    • EESC 3310 Agroecology
    • ENVS 3315 Sustainable Agriculture
    • One of:
      • EESC 1170 Rivers and the Environment
      • EESC 2203 Environmental Systems: Water Resources (in addition to the B requirement above)
      • BIOL 2010 Ecology and Evolution
    • One of:
      • EESC 2297 Environmental Hydrogeology
      • EESC 3312 River Restoration and Management
      • EESC 4400 Geomorphology and Landscape Change
      • EESC 4457 Watershed Science
      • EESC 5535 Coastal Processes
      • BIOL 4420 Current Topics in Ecology
      • BIOL 4860 Methods in Community Ecology Laboratory
    • Two of:
      • HIST 2505 Feast or Famine; a History of Food and the Environment
      • HIST 4254 Century of Famine
      • HIST 4042 China Regionalized: Environment, History and Culture
      • INTL 2261 Indigenous Peoples and Natural Resources
      • PHIL 5534 Environmental Ethics (in addition to the C requirement above)
      • SOCY 5560 Consumption and Sustainability
      • THEO 2231 The Bible and Ecology
      • THEO 5429 Theology and Ecology
  • Climate Change and Societal Adaptation
    This theme gives students a strong foundation in the science, policy and related challenges of global climate change, as societies learn to adapt to changes in sea level, biodiversity and the availability of energy and water.
    • One of:
      • EESC 1174 Climate Change and Society
      • EESC 2205 Environmental Systems: Climate Change (in addition to the B requirement above)
    • One of: (counts toward requirement C)
      • SOCY 1031, Society and Environmental Transformations
      • HIST 2503/ SOCY 1025, People and Nature
    • EESC 4440 Global Biogeochemical Cycles
    • One of:
      • EESC 3312 River Restoration and Management
      • EESC 4400 Geomorphology and Landscape Change
      • EESC 4457 Watershed Science
      • EESC 5535 Coastal Processes
    • Three of:
      • INTL 2260 International Environmental Science and Policy
      • POLI 2531 Energy Politics in U.S., Comparative and Global Perspective
      • SOCY 5562 Environmental Sociology I

Disciplines:

  • History
    • Two of:
      • HIST 1031 Europe and the World: An Environmental History I
      • HIST 1032 Europe and the World: An Environmental History II
      • HIST 2503/ SOCY 1025 People and Nature (in addition to the C requirement above)
      • HIST 2505 Feast or Famine; a History of Food and the Environment
      • several other environmental history courses TBA
    • Four of:
      • HIST 4042 China Regionalized: environment, history, and culture 
      • HIST 4254 Century of Famine
      • several other environmental history courses TBA
  • Political Science
    • Fundamentals: POLI 1042 Fundamental Concepts of Politics II
    • American politics: POLI 2301 Policy and Politics in the U.S., and one of POLI 2305, POLI 2309, POLI 2317, POLI 2322, POLI 2334
    • Comparative politics: one of POLI 2415, POLI 2422, or POLI 2460
    • International politics: POLI 2531 Energy Politics in U.S., Comparative and Global Perspective, and one of POLI 3521, POLI 2522 or POLI 2525
  • Sociology
    • SOCY 1001 Introductory Sociology
    • SOCY 1025 or SOCY 1031 (counts toward requirement C)
    • SOCY 2200 Statistics (in addition to the C requirement above)
    • SOCY 2210 Research Methods
    • Three of:
      • SOCY 3349 Environmental Studies: Selected Topics
      • SOCY 3375 American Economic Crisis and Social Change
      • SOCY 5560 Consumption and Sustainability
      • SOCY 5562 Environmental Sociology I
      • SOCY 5572 Sociology of Science and Technology

E. At least six credits (two or more courses) of environmental studies electives
View a list of available electives.

F. Senior research seminar (ENVS 4941-ENVS 4942, four credits; two credits per semester for both semesters)
The senior seminar involves a combination of discussions of key readings in ES, guest speakers, team research projects focused on solving real environmental problems, and engagement with communities beyond the BC campus. Alternatively, students can request to fulfill this requirement via a two-semester (six credits) senior thesis.

Information for First Year Students

First-year students who are considering applying to become Environmental Studies majors should consider taking the following courses:

  • Environmental Systems: The Human Footprint (EESC 2201 and lab EESC 2211), as well as one or more of other the Environmental Systems courses (EESC 2202 – EESC 2208 and labs EESC2 212-EESC 2218).
  • One or more of the foundation courses (requirement C above), several of which also fulfill University Core requirements.

Information for Study Abroad

ES majors are encouraged students to take advantage of study abroad opportunities. Studying outside of the U.S. provides a global perspective on environmental and sustainability issues, and educational opportunities not available at Boston College. ES students are allowed four credits per semester abroad to count toward the major (or minor) requirements, or eight credits in unusual circumstances.

For further information, contact ES Program Director Noah Snyder, see the program website at http://www.bc.edu/envstudies, or stop by the program office in Devlin 213.

 

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