The field of environmental studies addresses some of the most critical and complicated issues of our time: those regarding environmental change and the future of humanity. The systems that make up planet Earth are simultaneously comprehensible and complex, predictable and chaotic, robust and fragile. Changes in one part of this system of systems may have far-reaching implications for other parts. As citizens of Earth, we cannot afford to remain ignorant of the global environmental consequences of our daily activities.

A degree in environmental studies prepares students for a wide spectrum of careers, including environmental law, consulting, policy making, technical innovation, wildlife management, teaching, natural resource management, and fundamental research. Students in the major share a common sequence of core courses, beginning with introductions to environmental science and policy through an intermediate level practicum and culminating with the senior capstone. Throughout the curriculum, majors are exposed to different perspectives on and tools for understanding the environment including those from the natural sciences, social sciences, and the humanities. In addition, all students are required to take advanced courses in one department to provide disciplinary depth. Students have considerable choice in their courses and work with their advisor to select courses that fit individual interests and career goals. The field experience requirement ensures that students get out of the classroom to put their academic work into practice.

The minor in environmental studies is designed to complement a major in any field.

Required for the major in environmental studies

Students who major in environmental studies will learn how to understand the multiple ways humans attribute meaning to the environment, apply methods and/or concepts from multiple disciplines to analyze environmental problems, evaluate the quality of data and arguments, and communicate environmental science to a variety of audiences.

The major in environmental studies requires the following:

  1. Core courses:
    1. ENST 150: Introduction to Environmental Science with Lab
    2. ENST 151: Introduction to Environmental Policy
    3. ENST 300: Symposium on Environmental Topics
    4. ENST 650: Environmental Studies Senior Seminar
    5. One of the following:
      • STAT 107: Principles of Statistics
      • STAT 255: Statistics for Data Science
      • BIOL 170: Integrative Biology: Experimental Design and Statistics
      • ANTH 207: Quantitative Analysis in Anthropology
      • GOVT 271: Research Methods in Political Science
  2. Perspectives from science:
    Three additional 6-unit natural science courses from at least two different departments, one of which must be lab-based and one of which must be 200 or above.
  3. Perspectives from policy:
    1. ECON 280: Environmental Economics
    2. GOVT 270: Global Environmental Politics or GOVT 380: Introduction to Public Policy
  4. Perspectives from history, society, and culture:
    One course selected from the following courses (ENST 200: Topics in Environmental Studies may be used to satisfy this requirement with approval of the student's advisor).
    • ENST 127: Environmental Justice and Citizenship
    • RLST 205: Religion and the Biosphere
    • ANTH 310: Ecological Anthropology
    • HIST 355: History of the American Environment
    • PHIL 360: Environmental Ethics
    • THAR 387: Let Us Arise: Ireland's Deep Time
    • EDST 400: The Environment, Community, and Education
    • ENGL 522: Literature and the Environment
  5. Disciplinary focus:
    Three additional six-unit courses numbered 200 or above in a single department--government, economics, anthropology, biology, chemistry, geosciences, physics, or philosophy, selected in consultation with the advisor. Units earned in independent study may not be used to satisfy this requirement.
  6. Field experience:
    Not necessarily for credit; typically about 50 hours of work outside the classroom or participation in an ENST-related internship or off-campus program approved by the advisor.

Senior Experience in environmental studies

The Senior Seminar (ENST 650) is the culmination of the environmental studies major and serves as the program's Senior Experience. Through discussions of primary literature and guest lectures, students are engaged with cutting-edge scholarship in the natural sciences, social sciences, and the humanities. Students also complete individual projects, which consist of developing temporal or spatial models of environmentally relevant phenomena. In the course of modeling, students must find and acquire relevant data, determine functional relations between model elements, perform sensitivity analyses, and justify their choices and assumptions. Results and conclusions are presented orally and in a written document. The 6-unit course is offered once a year and has ENST 150, ENST 151, and ENST 300 as prerequisites. Students may elect, with the approval of their ENST advisor, to identify a different project, such as an independent research project, as their Senior Experience. Completion of ENST 650, however, is required for all environmental studies majors.

Required for the minor in environmental studies

  1. Required core courses:
    1. ENST 150: Introduction to Environmental Science with Lab
    2. ENST 151: Introduction to Environmental Policy
    3. ENST 300: Symposium on Environmental Topics
  2. One 6-unit natural science course cross-listed with ENST and one course each from the following two categories:
    1. Perspectives from policy: ECON 280, GOVT 270, or GOVT 380
    2. Perspectives from history, society, and culture: ANTH 310, EDST 400, HIST 355, or PHIL 360
      Environmental studies courses taken through Lawrence-approved off-campus programs may also fulfill this requirement with approval of the environmental studies program.

No more than one course may be applied simultaneously toward completion of this minor and a student's major.


Teacher certification in environmental science or broad-field science

Students can seek certification to teach environmental science at the secondary level. Students must take EDST/ENST 400 and should fulfill the science-track requirements of the environmental studies major or, preferably, major in one of the natural sciences and minor in environmental studies. Students also have the option of seeking broad-field science certification by completing the major and a minimum of two courses in each of two other science disciplines and at least one course in each of the remaining sciences. Students who plan to seek teacher certification should review the requirements in the Education section of the catalog and meet with the director of teacher education, preferably before the end of the sophomore year.