Skip to main content

Secondary navigation:

Morrissey College of Arts and Sciences

Environmental Studies Major:
Class of 2017 and Beyond

environmental studies program

Learning Outcomes

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 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.

Applying for the Environmental Studies Major

Students are accepted into the Environmental Studies major by application only. Admission to the major is by competitive application at the end of freshman year. Approximately 15 students will be accepted into the major each year, after they have completed one year of study at Boston College. Admission is determined by the Steering Committee of the Environmental Studies Program, which includes faculty drawn from many departments and an associate dean from the College of Arts and Sciences. Criteria for admission include academic achievement and a personal statement.

The deadline for submitting applications is early May, at the end of your first year. The application form may be found here.

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 students may choose more than one major, but at least 27 credits for the ES major must not be used to fulfill requirements for another major or minor (i.e., 16 credits can be shared). 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
(1 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. Approved substitutions include: EESC 1167 for EESC 2201, EESC 1170 for EESC 2203, EESC 1174 or EESC 1505 for EESC 2205, and EESC 1157 for EESC 2206.

C. Two foundation courses in environmental studies (6 credits; one must be at the 2000 level or higher):
  • ECON 2277 Environmental Economics and Policy or ECON 2278 Environmental Economics
  • HIST 2503/SOCY 1025 People and Nature
  • HIST 4703 Environmental Histories of Water
  • MGMT 2145 Environmental Management
  • SOCY 1031 Society and Environmental Transformations
  • SOCY 2200 Statistics (or a different statistics course)
  • SOCY 1501 Global Implications of Climate Change (available to freshmen only)
  • SOCY 5563 Environmental Sociology I
  • ENVS/UNAS 2256 Environmental Law and Policy
  • PHIL 5534 Environmental Ethics
  • Core Courses Open Only to First Year Students
    • PHIL 1501 Science and Ethics of Climate Change
    • SOCY 1501 Global Implications of Climate Change
    • SOCY 1509 Planet in Peril: History and Future of Human Impacts

D. A concentration in a theme or discipline (6 courses, 18 or more credits)

Available themes include Food and Water Sustainability and Climate Change and Societal Adaptation. Available disciplines include Economics, 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 People and Nature (counts toward requirement C) or HIST 1505
    Planet in Peril: History and Future of Human Impacts (for freshmen only)
  • 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 Hydrology
    • 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
  • Two of:
    • HIST 2505 Feast or Famine; a History of Food and the Environment
    • HIST 4254 Century of Famine
    • HIST 4701 Ecological History of the Atlantic World
    • HIST 4703 Environmental Histories of Water
    • 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 1501 Global Implications of Climate Change (for freshmen only)
    • EESC 1505 Science and Ethics of Climate Change (for freshmen only)
    • EESC 2205 Environmental Systems: Climate Change (in addition to the B requirement above)
    • PHIL 1501 Science and Ethics of Climate Change (for freshmen only)
  • One of: (counts toward requirement C)
    • SOCY 1031 Society and Environmental Transformations
    • HIST 2503/SOCY 1025 People and Nature
    • SOCY 1501 Global Implications of Climate Change (for freshmen only)
    • SOCY 1509 Planet in Peril (for freshmen only)
  • Two of:
    • EESC 3312 River Restoration and Management
    • EESC 3318 Alternative Energy: Why Aren’t We There Yet?
    • EESC 4400 Geomorphology and Landscape Change
    • EESC 4440 Global Biogeochemical Cycles
    • EESC 4457 Watershed Science
    • EESC 4462 Paleoclimate I
    • EESC 4463 Paleoclimate II
    • EESC 5535 Coastal Processes
    • EESC 5599 Climate Change Debates
  • Three of:
    • ECON 3391 Economics of Energy and the Environment
    • INTL 2260 International Environmental Science and Policy
    • POLI 2531 Energy Politics in U.S., Comparative and Global Perspective
    • SOCY 5562 Environmental Sociology I
Disciplines

Economics

  • ECON 1131 Principles of Economics I/Microeconomics
  • ECON 1132 Principles of Economics II/Macroeconomics
  • ECON 2201 Microeconomic Theory
  • ECON 1151 Statistics, or a different statistics course
    (can also count toward requirement C)
  • ECON 2228 Econometrics
  • ECON 2277 Environmental Economics and Policy or ECON 2278 Environmental Economics
    (can also count toward requirement C)
  • Two of:
    • ECON 3386 Public Policy Analysis
    • ECON 3391 Economics of Energy and the Environment
    • ECON 3392 Quantitative Methods in Environmental Economics

History

  • Two of:
    • HIST 1031 Europe and the World: An Environmental History I
    • HIST 1032 Europe and the World: An Environmental History II
    • HIST 1505 Planet in Peril (for freshmen only)
    • 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 4043 Environment, Economy, and Politics in Medieval China
    • HIST 4254 Century of Famine
    • HIST 4701 Ecological History of the Atlantic World
    • HIST 4703 Environmental Histories of Water

Political Science

  • Fundamentals, one of:
    • POLI 1042 Introduction to Modern Politics
    • POLI 1061 Introduction to American Politics
    • POLI 1091 Introduction to Comparative Politics
  • 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 People and Nature or SOCY 1031 Society and Environmental Transformations or SOCY 1509 Planet in Peril (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 (in addition to requirement C)
    • SOCY 5572 Sociology of Science and Technology

E. At least 6 credits (two or more courses) of environmental studies electives

At least 3 credits must be from courses numbered 3000 and above. Please see our current elective offerings, which include all Earth and Environmental Sciences courses, as well as more than 30 other options.

F. Senior research seminar (ENVS 4941-ENVS 4942; 4 credits; 2 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 (6 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 EESC 2212–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 BC. 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 www.bc.edu/envstudies, or stop by the program office in Devlin 213.

 

Note: To view Adobe Acrobat® (PDF) formatted files you will need the free Adobe Acrobat file reader.