Environmental Science is the study of interrelationships between human activities and the environment. Environmental Science is an unusual academic discipline in that it requires scientific knowledge about the natural world, as well as an understanding about ways in which humans interact with the natural world. We examine effects of human actions on the environment, and the means by which policies, regulations, and decisions influence human actions. We also examine human behavioral, cultural, and sociological interactions that affect the environment. Thus, the department is truly interdisciplinary and exemplifies the liberal arts approach to education.
Two majors are offered in the department: Environmental Science and Environmental Studies. Core courses in the Environmental Science major include biology, chemistry, geology, and mathematics. Upper-level courses synthesize and integrate basic sciences and apply that knowledge to analysis and solutions of current environmental problems. Upper-level courses are rich in lab and field experiences.
With a strong emphasis in biology, geology, and chemistry, Environmental Science majors are likely to pursue graduate studies and careers in field, laboratory, or applied science settings. Students typically work and study at research institutions, regulatory agencies, or private consulting firms that highlight environmental quality. Science major prepares students to work in terrestrial, marine, or aquatic arenas, land use assessment, agriculture, forestry, resource management, or pollution assessment and control.
The objective of the Environmental Studies major is to study the concept of sustainability in an integrated way, including environmental, economic, and social aspects, exploring both desirable future conditions and the transitions needed to reach them. The basic tenet of the Environmental Studies major is that progress toward a sustainable future depends on the creative application of interdisciplinary thinking, spanning disciplines across the traditional college divisions, while striving for both depth and breadth. We seek to inspire creativity and combine passion with critical thinking skills in students who one day will be the citizens working to convert the world to more sustainable systems.
A set of core courses are required of all Environmental Studies majors that together lay necessary foundations in the social and natural sciences, while providing opportunities for interdisciplinary analysis of environmental ills. In addition to these core courses, students must complete 40 credit hours in a defined concentration. The concentrations are interdisciplinary in nature and facilitate a student’s attainment of some depth of knowledge and methods. For the purposes of fulfilling college wide liberal studies requirements, the Environmental Studies major is counted in the division in which the majority of courses in the concentration reside: the social sciences or humanities.
The department offers two majors, Environmental Science and Environmental Studies. A set of core courses (24 credits) for each major includes:
- ES 110
- ES 210
- FS ENV 201
- One of ES 580-589
- ES 600
- ES 610
The minimum GPA for a student to graduate with a major in Environmental Science or Environmental Studies is 2.00. All courses required for the Environmental Science and Environmental Studies majors (including Allegheny off-campus courses for which a letter grade is received) are counted in the calculation whether they are Environmental Science courses or courses listed outside the department. The most recent grade for a repeated course is used in the calculation. Courses required by the major are expected to be taken on a letter-grade basis. Exceptions must be approved by an Environmental Science department advisor.
Courses offered within the Department of Environmental Science integrate various disciplines, and thus reflect the interdisciplinary nature of environmental concerns and problem-solving. Departmental courses examine ecological systems, interactions of human perceptions, ideas, and technologies, and social, political, economic, and technological methods to preserve environmental quality. Faculty in the department believe that environmental specialists in the natural sciences must have a broad understanding of the social aspects of environmental problems. Likewise, a professional whose expertise is in environmental policy, management, or communications must also have a strong understanding of the scientific basis of decision-making in those fields.
(40 additional credits)
Select one (1) from this list (4 credits):
- ES/PS 347 – Environmental Regulation and the State
- ES 350 – Ecological Economics
- ES 420 – Understanding Third World Environmental Problems
- PS 431 – Global Environmental Politics
- Hist 318 – Environmental History of Europe
- Eng 209 – Writing about Culture and Place
- Math 157 or 160 – Calculus I for Social/Life Sciences or Calculus I
- Math 158 or 170 – Calculus II for Social/Life Sciences or Calculus II