academic catalogue

2023-2024 Catalogue

Environmental Studies

Environmental Studies is an interdisciplinary field that draws on knowledge and analytical tools from many areas of study to understand the function of natural ecosystems, the effects of human societies on the environment, and the role that the environment has played in shaping human cultures and artistic endeavors. The major in Environmental Studies and Sustainability prepares students for careers in policy-making, education, conservation, government service, research, and the arts. Students will also be well prepared to work for non-governmental organizations or enter into post-graduate studies in environmental law, urban planning, and scientific disciplines such as ecology.

Major Program

The student learning outcomes of the major are:
I. to understand the fundamental scientific principles that govern the operation of natural ecosystems;
II. to gain an appreciation for the effects of the human economic activities and governmental policies on the environment; 
III. to explore interdisciplinary approaches to, and become effective leaders for, environmental sustainability and justice;
IV. to explore ethical, spiritual, cultural, and psychological dimensions of human relationships to non-human nature;
V. to consider the ways in which the natural world has inspired creative endeavors in literature and the arts;
VI. to integrate material from the various disciplines into a coherent framework for understanding the role of humans in the environment

To ensure a broad and multidisciplinary background in the study of the environment, all students will take courses from and complete work in the following three areas of study:
1) Science and the Biosphere (scientific approaches to understanding environmental issues),
2) Interdisciplinary Thinking and the Environment (policy, economic, and educational viewpoints on human relationships with non-human nature), and
3) Creative, Ethical, and Spiritual Perspectives on Ecology (artistic, philosophical, and spiritual considerations).
4) Students will also complete a senior capstone experience that will integrate concepts and methods of environmental studies with those of another academic discipline.

Professional Development: Throughout her Wesleyan education each student is given opportunities to explore professional and career choices, and to develop and demonstrate the knowledge and skills essential for professional success. Each student will complete PDE 400 Professional Development Experience and PDE 401 Professional Practice Seminar.

Integrative Experience: An integrative experience is required of each student as part of the general education program. The integrative experience requirement is met with ESC/BIO 440 Senior Integrative Exercise in the Life Sciences. In this course, students work individually to research a focused topic integrating concepts and methods of Environmental Studies with those of another discipline. Students work collaboratively in a small group to organize oral presentations which integrate individual topics into a broader theme, question, or problem. Students present their work at the end of the semester.

Major requirements: Environmental Studies and Sustainability. (40 hours)

I. Science and the Biosphere (16 hours)
ESC 150 Principles of Environmental Science 4 hours
ESC/BIO 208 Field Biology 4 hours
ESC/BIO 280 Ecology 4 hours
ESC/BIO 360 Conservation Biology 4 hours
II. Interdisciplinary Thinking and the Environment (12 hours)
Four courses from the following (12 hours; at least one at the 300 level):
ECO 206 Economic Thought 3 hours
EDS 114 Understanding Learning 3 hours
PHI/LED 207 Effective Leadership in Community 3 hours
PHI/LED 307 Power and Service Leadership 3 hours
POL 115 American Politics 3 hours
POL/ESC 260 Interpretations of Land and Nature 3 hours
POL/PHI 240 Introduction to Political Thought 3 hours
POL 306 Environmental Politics and Policy 3 hours
POL 356 Activism and Political Organization 3 hours
III. Creative, Ethical, and Spiritual Perspectives on Ecology (9 hours)
Required (6 hours)
ART 110 Creativity: Art/Design from Nature 3 hours
PHI 223 Ethics 3 hours
Complete at least one course from the following list (3 hours)
ARH 354 Art History III: 20th Century to Contemporary 3 hours
ENG 161 Creative Writing 3 hours
PHI 210 Readings in Philosophy (Philosophies of Nature, Ecology, Environment, or Social Justice subjects only) 3 hours
REL 396 Special Topics in Religion (Religion and Ecology or Religion and Politics subjects only) 3 hours
REL/PHI 309 From Modernism to Postmodernism 3 hours
IV. Senior Seminar (3 hours)
ESC/BIO 440 Senior Integrative Exercise in the Life Sciences 3 hours

The 40 hours required for the major must include at least 12 hours at the 300-level or higher. Students can include ESC 396, ESC 451, or ESC 452 to meet this condition.

Minor Requirements: Environmental Science (32 hours)

ESC 150 Principles of Environmental Science 4 hours
ESC/BIO 208 Field Biology 4 hours
ESC/BIO 360 Conservation Biology 4 hours
BIO 110 Principles of Biology I - Biological Processes 4 hours
BIO 112 Principles of Biology II - Diversity of Biological Systems 4 hours
CHM 101 General Chemistry I 4 hours
CHM 102 General Chemistry II 4 hours
CHM 250 Principles of Environmental Chemistry 4 hours

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