Major

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.

Environmental Studies Major Requirements

The ENVS major consists of a minimum of 43 credits, equivalent to at least 14 full-semester courses, as detailed below. ENVS students may choose more than one major, but at least 27 credits for the ENVS major must not be used to fulfill requirements for another major or minor (i.e., 16 credits can be shared).

Cohort 2020

A. Environmental Studies Introductory Seminar ENVS 1100 (1 credit)

This seminar is offered in the fall semester for the new cohort of ENVS majors (sophomores). It involves readings of classic 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 221102218):

  • 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
  • ENVS/UNAS 2256 Environmental Law and Policy
  • ENVS 3360 Research Methods in Environmental Studies
  • HIST 2406 U.S. Environmental History
  • HIST 4703 Environmental Histories of Water
  • INTL 2260 International Environmental Science and Policy
  • MGMT 2145 Environmental Management
  • SOCY 1031 Society and Environmental Transformations
  • SOCY 2200 Statistics (or a different statistics course)
  • SOCY 5563 Environmental Sociology I
  • 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

Disciplines

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.

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 ENVS, 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.

  • ENVS 4921 Advanced Independent Research I [Fall]
  • ENVS 4922 Advanced Independent Research II [Spring]
  • ENVS 4951 Senior Thesis I [Fall]
  • ENVS 4952 Senior Thesis II [Spring]
  • ENVS 4961 Senior Honors Thesis I [Fall]
  • ENVS 4962 Senior Honors Thesis II [Spring]

Cohort 2021

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 classic 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
  • ENVS/UNAS 2256 Environmental Law and Policy
  • ENVS 3360 Research Methods in Environmental Studies
  • HIST 2406 U.S. Environmental History
  • HIST 4703 Environmental Histories of Water
  • INTL 2260 International Environmental Science and Policy
  • MGMT 2145 Environmental Management
  • SOCY 1031 Society and Environmental Transformations
  • SOCY 2200 Statistics (or a different statistics course)
  • SOCY 5563 Environmental Sociology I
  • 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

Disciplines

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.

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 ENVS, 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.

  • ENVS 4921 Advanced Independent Research I [Fall]
  • ENVS 4922 Advanced Independent Research II [Spring]
  • ENVS 4951 Senior Thesis I [Fall]
  • ENVS 4952 Senior Thesis II [Spring]
  • ENVS 4961 Senior Honors Thesis I [Fall]
  • ENVS 4962 Senior Honors Thesis II [Spring]

Cohort 2022

A. Intro Seminar (1 credit, p/f)

B. Environmental Systems courses (8 credits, 2 credits each)

One of:
  • EESC2201 The Human Footprint
Three of:
  • EESC2202 Ecosystems
  • EESC2203 Water Resources
  • EESC2204 The Critical Zone
  • EESC2205 Climate Change
  • EESC2206 Oceans
  • EESC2207 Earthquakes
  • EESC2208 Quantitative Methods

C. Foundation courses (9 credits):

  • ENVS 3360 Research Methods in Environmental Studies
  • HIST 2406 US Environmental History or HIST 4701 Ecological History of the Atlantic World or HIST 1710 Nature & Power: Modern World
  • SOCY 5563 Environmental Sociology

D. Concentration (18 credits)

E. Elective (3 credits)

F. Seminar (4 credits) or Senior Thesis (6 credits)

  • ENVS 4921 Advanced Independent Research I [Fall]
  • ENVS 4922 Advanced Independent Research II [Spring]
  • ENVS 4951 Senior Thesis I [Fall]
  • ENVS 4952 Senior Thesis II [Spring]
  • ENVS 4961 Senior Honors Thesis I [Fall]
  • ENVS 4962 Senior Honors Thesis II [Spring]

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).

Information for Study Abroad

ENVS 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. ENVS 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 ENVS Program Director Tara Pisani Gareau or stop by the program office in Devlin 213.