The Environmental Science major draws from the curricula of multiple departments to equip students with the tools to investigate complexly interconnected Earth systems.  ENSC majors develop a sense for the intrinsic time scales of environmental processes, for the evolution of environmental systems in the past, and for how these systems are likely to change in the future, especially as a result of human activities.  ENSC students also learn to communicate technical concepts effectively both to other scientists and to public audiences. The major includes a rigorous core of required courses but also leaves significant latitude for each student to shape an individualized academic plan.  ENSC majors will be well prepared for graduate study or work in the corporate, government, or non-profit sectors.

Required for the major in environmental science

  1. Foundational Concepts and Quantitative Tools (30 units)
    1. ENST 150: Introduction to Environmental Science
    2. ENST 151: Introduction to Environmental Policy
    3. CHEM 116: Principles of Chemistry
    4. GEOS 220: Remote Sensing and GIS or BIOL 420: Geography of Life
    5. One of the following statistics courses: STAT 107 or 217, BIOL 170, ANTH 207, CHEM 211
  2. Social and Cultural Perspectives on the Environment (6 units)
    1. Any ENST Cross-listed course in the arts, humanities, or social sciences
  3. Scientific Perspectives on the Nature of Nature (18 units)
    1. One course in each of the following categories:
      1. Ecology: BIOL 190, 230, 330, 335, or 345
      2. Environ Chemistry: CHEM 210, CHEM 212, GEOS 213, GEOS 240, or GEOS 265
      3. Natural Systems in Time: GEOS 210 or 214; BIOL 235
  4. Science Focus (24 units)

    24 units in the natural sciences from the following list, including two courses that are lab-based and three courses at the 200 level or above. Ideally, students will select courses that represent a coherent conceptual theme (see suggested themes below). Students may petition for approval of science courses not on the list. Prerequisites must be observed.

    • Biology: BIOL 130, 150, 200, 211, 221, 225, 226, 230, 235, 245, 265, 330, 335, 345, 360, 375, 380, 420, 434, 505
    • Geoscience: GEOS 125, 210, 213, 214, 220, 240, 265, 314, 340, 360, 430, 550
    • Chemistry: CHEM 210, 212, 225, 250, 320, 410, 420
    • Physics: PHYS 112, 141, 151, 220, 225, 230, 320
  5. Synthesis: Seminars and Research Experience (12 units)*
    1. ENST 300: Symposium on Environmental Topics (6 units)
    2. ENSC 580**: Junior Seminar (3 units)
    3. ENSC 620**: Senior Capstone (3 units)

    **Students double majoring in a natural science may petition the ENST program to fulfill the capstone in the other natural science major provided the topic has an environmental focus.


  • Courses can be counted for only one category.
  • No more than 4 courses may count towards the ENSC major and an additional major.
  • ENSC majors cannot double major with ENST or declare an ENST minor.

Suggested Thematic Groupings of Courses

Below we describe groupings of courses organized around particular themes. These themes are common areas of student interest and common subfields within the environmental sciences. These are not prescriptive, rather they are intended to give students and advisors a list of courses taught at Lawrence that could be used to create a coherent course of study around a particular area of interest. Some of these courses fall outside the natural sciences and may or may not count towards the major. For example, the Sustainable Agriculture cluster includes courses in anthropology and philosophy. One of these could count towards the major under category II, but the other would not count. We list these to give a broad picture of course at Lawrence that may be thematically linked.

Terrestrial and Aquatic Ecosystems

Courses in this cluster are appropriate for students interested in the biotic/abiotic interactions in terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems. Foci include animal and plant interactions with each other and their corresponding environments.

  • BIOL 200: Animal Behavior
  • BIOL 211: Botany
  • BIOL 221: Entomology
  • BIOL 230: General Ecology
  • BIOL 245: Conservation Biology
  • BIOL 330: Aquatic Ecology
  • BIOL 335: Plant Ecology
  • BIOL 345: Terrestrial Field Ecology
  • BIOL 420: The Geography of Life: Biodiversity in a Changing Planet
  • BIOL 434: Ecological Energetics
  • BIOL 505: Coral Reef Environments


Courses in this cluster include:

  • GEOS 213: Geology and Health
  • GEOS 214: Climate and Climate Change
  • GEOS 240: The Material World: Geochemistry of Minerals, Rocks and Waters
  • GEOS 250: Hot Rocks
  • GEOS 265: Biogeochemistry
  • GEOS 314: Soil Science
  • GEOS 340: Advanced Geochemistry
  • CHEM 210: Analytical Chemistry
  • CHEM 211: Statistical Methods in Analytical Chemistry
  • CHEM 212: Atmospheric & Environmental Chemistry
  • CHEM 370: Physical Chemistry: Thermodynamics and Kinetics
  • CHEM 410: Instrumental Analysis

Water resources

Courses in this cluster explore the physical and chemical properties of water as they pertain to surface and groundwater systems and the anthropogenic effects on these systems. This cluster is appropriate for students interested in water quality/ contamination/pollution, flooding, and water scarcity

  • BIOL 330: Aquatic Ecology
  • GEOL 213: Geology and Health
  • GEOS 214: Climate and Climate Change
  • GEOS 240: The Material World: Geochemistry of Minerals, Rocks and Waters
  • GEOS 360: Earth Surface Processes
  • GEOS 430: Watershed Hydrology
  • CHEM 210: Analytical Chemistry
  • CHEM 410: Instrumental Analysis

Sustainable agriculture

Courses in this cluster expose students to the fundamental underpinnings the physical and chemical conditions necessary for robust plant growth and reproduction. In addition, supplemental courses that directly link agriculture to society through ideas around food and culture provide a well-rounded perspective.

  • BIOL 103: Biotechnology and Society
  • BIOL 211: Botany
  • BIOL 221: Entomology
  • BIOL 225/226: Microbiology
  • BIOL 335: Plant Ecology
  • GEOS 265: Biogeochemistry
  • GEOS 314: Soil Science
  • GEOS 360: Earth Surface Processes
  • GEOS 430: Watershed Hydrology
  • ANTH 344: Nutritional Anthropology
  • ANTH 378: Anthropology of Food
  • PHIL 115: Food Ethics


Courses in this cluster will provide a broad background on the fundamentals of climate science, and specific in-depth knowledge on applications of climate science to understanding climate change and environmental feedback loops. This cluster will serve students who have an interest in understanding the science behind climate change, and global-scale environmental processes.

  • GEOS 210/ENST 230: History of the Earth and Life
  • GEOS 214/ENST 235: Climate and Climate Change
  • CHEM 116: Principles of Chemistry: Energetics and Dynamics,
  • CHEM 210/ENST 250: Analytical Chemistry
  • CHEM 212/ENST 222: Atmospheric & Environmental Chemistry
  • BIOL 420/ENST 420: The Geography of Life: Biodiversity on a Changing Planet

Environmental data analysis

Courses in this cluster will provide students with exposure and familiarity to a series of tools and approaches used to analyze environmental data. Students with an interest in advancing their analytical skillsets, and applied research in environmental science would benefit from these courses.

  • BIOL 170: Integrative Biology: Experimental Design and Statistics
  • GEOL 220: Environmental Remote Sensing and GIS Applications
  • CMSC/STAT 205: Data-Scientific Programming
  • STAT 255: Statistics for Data Science
  • ENST 237: Environmental Remote Sensing And GIS Applications
  • CHEM 210/ENST 250: Analytical Chemistry
  • CHEM 212/ENST 222: Atmospheric & Environmental Chemistry
  • BIOL 375: Biostatistics

Senior Experience in environmental science

The Environmental Science capstone experience is a sequence of two 3-unit courses that are taken in a student’s junior and senior years. In ENSC 580: Junior Seminar, students reflect on their trajectory through the major and plot a course forward for their capstone project. The Junior seminar culminates in a literature review and research proposal. This is followed by ENSC 620 in a student’s senior year, in which they complete the proposed research project.