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—and for the future of humanity.

This interdisciplinary major draws on social (economics, government and anthropology) and natural sciences (biology, chemistry and geology), as well as the humanities and arts. Faculty members are practicing scholars within their primary disciplines.

  • The environment and the outdoors
  • Interdisciplinarity—especially the intersection of environmental science and policy
  • Critical and complicated issues regarding environmental change and the future of humanity, including climate change
  • Environmental policy and its relation to politics, economics, and history
  • Hands-on research and filed trips in the U.S. and abroad
  • Plants, wild animals, natural habitats, and their relations with human and technology
  • Food, health, human development and wellbeing


Life After Lawrence

Lawrentians can enjoy careers in...

Environmental law, consulting, policymaking, technical innovation, wildlife management, international development, teaching, natural resource management, food science

Recent employers include...

Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Resource Conservation Alliance, G.E. Osmonics, Frontier Society for Environmental Exploration, Center for Earth Leadership, The Nature Conservancy, Organic Valley, Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Department of Natural Resources, Environmental Protection Agency, Furman University, New York University 

Lawrentians can earn advanced degrees in...

Geological sciences, environmental management, landscape architecture, law, public & environmental affairs

Recent schools include...

Indiana University School of Public and Environmental Affairs, Duke University Environmental Management, Northeastern, Wyoming, Stanford, Columbia, Vermont Law School, Wisconsin 

Experience the Spoerl Lectureship in Science in Society

This endowed lecture series is an integral part of the environmental symposium, a topic- and project-based course in which students embark on a group project guided by nationally-recognized experts in the field. The Sustainable Lawrence University Garden (affectionately called SLUG) is a product of this course.

Have environmentally-focused off-campus experiences

Fulfill environmental studies program requirements and engage in deep experiential learning through off-campus programs in Tanzania, Costa Rica and Italy, as well as the Lawrence Marine Term and our Sustainable China trip. Environmental systems experienced off campus can be explored in depth through Senior Experience systems modeling.

Make an environmental impact on campus and in our community

We encourage and support creative, ambitious students to initiate change on and off campus. Students have engaged in urban gardening, environmental education and the development of solar and wind power on campus.

Craft a curriculum that suits your interests and aspirations

Interested in policy? Choose a government focus in the major. Do you want to explore more deeply the scientific elements of the major? Choose a chemistry or geology focus. At Lawrence you and your advisor can craft a curriculum at Lawrence that focuses this flexible program to suit your aspirations and interests.

Components of the Major

  • Introduction to
    Environmental Science with Lab
  • Introduction to
    Environmental Policy
  • Symposium on Environmental Topics
  • Environmental Studies
    Senior Seminar
  • Statistics OR Integrative Biology: Experimental Design and Analysis OR Quantitative Analysis in Anthropology
  • Three natural sciences sources from at least two different departments (one of which must be lab-based
  • Two policy courses: Environmental Economics and Global Environmental Politics OR Introduction to Public Policy
  • One environmentally-focused course in history, education, ethics, or ecological anthropology
  • Three disciplinary-focused courses in anthropology, biology, chemistry, economics, geology, government, or physics
  • Field experience

Course descriptions and more courses

The Chandler Senior Experience

The Senior Seminar is the culmination of the environmental studies major and serves as the program's Senior Experience. Through discussions of primary literature and guest lectures, you’ll engage with cutting-edge scholarship in the natural sciences, social sciences, and the humanities. You will also complete an individual project, which consists of developing models of environmentally relevant phenomena. In the course of this modeling work, you must find and acquire relevant data, determine functional relations between model elements, perform sensitivity analyses, and justify your choices and assumptions. Finally, you will present your results and conclusions orally and in a written document.

Recent Senior Experience projects include:


Meeting the new fuel efficiency standards with aluminum cars:  Where is the carbon break-even-point?

Policy Options for Nitrate-Contaminated Groundwater in California’s Agricultural Fields

Sociopolitical Interactions of Electrical Waste in Ghana, West Africa

Economic Feasibility of a Bike Share In Appleton, Wisconsin

Modeling the gray wolf population in Wisconsin: effects of the Wisconsin wolf management plan