Environment and Sustainability Requirements

  • Study of human relationships with the natural world range across disciplines, from the cultural, philosophical, ethical, and aesthetic to the scientific, economic, and political. Environment and Sustainability (ENVS) is an interdisciplinary major, in which students learn critical thinking, analytical, and problem-solving skills. ENVS students learn to synthesize diverse disciplinary perspectives and approaches, drawing on and learning to integrate theoretical and empirical approaches from the natural sciences, social sciences, and arts and humanities to understand and develop strategies for solving environmental problems. Explorations of environmental and sustainability theory and research methods as well as engagement with diverse problems through independent research, internships, and course-based service-learning are all integral to the ENVS major.

    The ENVS major offers (1) the opportunity to explore a breadth of environmental education topics that provide key critical thinking experiences and an ability to engage in fostering a more environmentally sustainable society and (2) the opportunity to specialize in a given area by pursuing one of 6 specific concentrations (e.g., applied sustainability, Earth & environmental science, environmental justice – see below) within the major that provides greater focus on an area and the ability to develop greater expertise relevant to solving environmental and sustainability problems in the specific field. Whether pursuing a general ENVS degree or a specialized concentration within ENVS, students majoring in ENVS at Ursinus prepare for successful graduate study and careers in environmental sciences, conservation, policy, planning, education, engineering, agriculture, journalism, law, and many other areas.

    ENVS students are active on and off campus, with numerous opportunities to work on campus with members of the faculty, staff, and administration and with members of the local community on research and applied projects involving recycling and waste reduction, energy efficiency, water resource management, sustainable purchasing and contracting policies, planning and land management, reforestation and forest mapping activities, creating food systems and managing agricultural production/land, developing climate and stormwater mitigation solutions, wildlife conservation, and geological education, among other topics. In addition to the focus on service and practice in the ENVS curriculum, Ursinus College features an Office of Sustainability, whose staff work to connect students, faculty, and staff with the college’s sustainability initiatives.

    Off campus, ENVS students have successfully worked in internships with many national, regional, and local organizations involved in all facets of environmental science and policy, with organizations such as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. National Marine Sanctuary Program, Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural resources, Perkiomen Watershed Conservancy, Philadelphia Zoo, Elmwood Park Zoo, Academy of Natural Sciences, environmental engineering and consulting groups, outdoor education centers, organic farms, and many other organizations in the environmental and sustainability fields. ENVS majors’ professional experiences are tied closely to the ENVS academic program; the integrated nature of ENVS’s approach to learning and practice helps to prepare ENVS majors to be successful leaders and decision makers in the environmental arena.

    Requirements for Majors

    All students majoring in Environment & Sustainability (ENVS) must take a minimum of 14 courses. At least two of three environmental and ecological science courses must have a S designation. ENVS majors fulfill the college requirements for writing, oral presentations, and capstone experience by completing one of the ENVS capstone courses: ENVS-450W, 452W, or 454W. The ENVS capstone courses also convey the applied nature of ENVS by engaging students in an applied group project. These projects typically entail a partnership with either an off-campus organization, another (i.e., non-ENVS) unit of the College, or in the management of one of the ENVS living-learning laboratories (e.g. Ursinus Food Forest, BearShare, etc.). The ENVS curricular requirements are as follows:

    ENVS core courses (must complete all of the following):

    • ENVS-100
    • ENVS-120
    • ENVS-244
    • BIO-101Q.
    • One introductory/intermediate environmental science course (CHEM-101Q/101L; ENVS/GEOS-142Q, 240Q; ENVS-180Q, or, if the department chair approves, ENVS-112 or ENVS-350). ENVS/GEOS-102Q does not fulfill this requirement.
    • One advanced environmental science course (ENVS-266, 370, 372, or, if the department chair approves, ENVS-350)
    • One ecological science course ENVS/BIO-234, 310, 320, 325, 330, 334, 336, 360, 365, 375, 415W, 419W, 442W, 455W; or, if the department chair approves, ENVS-350)
    • One social science or humanities course (ENVS/SOC-220, 288, 290; ENVS/ANTH-230; ENVS/PHIL-248; ENVS/HIST-254, ENVS/POL-351; ENVS/PSYC-260; ENVS/RELS-261; ENVS/MCS-302, or, if the department chair approves, ENVS-110, 111, or 350)
    • One introductory synthesis course (ENVS-242, 243, or, if the department chair approves, ENVS-350)
    • One intermediate synthesis course with community engagement and applied problem-solving (ENVS-332, 338, 340, or, if the department chair approves, ENVS-350)
    • One intermediate synthesis course on interdisciplinary data analysis and problem-solving (ENVS-361, 362, 364, 366, or, if the department chair approves, ENVS-350)
    • One course in advanced critical thinking: ENVS-428W, or, if the department chair approves, ENVS-350)
    • One advanced synthesis capstone course in environmental problem solving: ENVS-450W, 452W, or 454W, or, if the department chair approves, ENVS-350)
    • Completion of an internship: ENVS-381 or 382

    In consultation with the ENVS chair, students may petition to have ENVS-481W or 482W (independent research), or ENVS-491W and 492W (honors research) satisfy requirements in one of the environmental or ecological science, social science/humanities, or synthesis categories. For independent or honors research to fulfill the major requirements, students must have already completed at least three of the four (12 semester hours) foundational ENVS requirements (ENVS-100, ENVS-120, ENVS-244, and BIO-101Q) and receive permission of the ENVS chair.

    ENVS majors are also encouraged to complete a concentration and/or a minor (or major) in an additional area of focus. ENVS majors will receive a B.A. or B.S. degree, depending on their particular path through the major. Students who complete the standard ENVS degree (i.e. with no concentration, minor, or other major) will earn a B.A. Students who complete the Applied Sustainability, Environmental Justice, or Food Studies concentrations will earn a B.A. in ENVS. Students who complete a concentration in Biodiversity & Wildlife Conservation, Climate Change, or Earth & Environmental Science, minor in those fields, or minor/double major in Biology, Chemistry, or Physics will have the option to elect a B.S. degree in ENVS.

    Recommended of all ENVS majors

    • STAT-141Q

    Concentrations in Environment and Sustainability

    Students may opt to concentrate within their ENVS degree in a related field by directing their selections through the major purposefully. Concentrations may be pursued as part of the major; however, some courses may need to be completed in addition to 14 ENVS requirements, depending on course availability, students’ schedules, specific requirements, etc. There are five possible concentrations listed below. Students should talk about their interests with their ENVS advisor to determine if a specific concentration would be useful to them, as well as their more specific pathway within the concentration.

    For all the concentrations, it is recommended that students complete the ENVS XLP in a topic germane to their concentration. ENVS-110-112, 350 , or other courses may satisfy requirements within the concentrations, with permission of the ENVS department chair. Also in consultation with the ENVS chair, ENVS-481/482 and ENVS-491/492 may count toward a given concentration.

    Applied Sustainability Concentration:

    Students seeking to complete the Applied Sustainability concentration in ENVS should ensure they complete the following specific courses as part of their ENVS major. Completion of the concentration will likely require completing more than the minimum 14 courses needed for the standard major.

    • Energy, Waste, and Economics (all required): ENVS-340, 361, and 362
    • Justice (select 2): PSJ-200, ENVS/SOC-220, ENVS/REL-261, ENVS-364, or 428W
    • Climate Change (select 1): ENVS-370, 452, or ENVS/BIO-419W
    • Food Systems (select 1): ENVS/ANTH-230, ENVS/BIO-234, ENVS-243, or 454W
    • Sustainabilities in Practice (select 1): ENVS-332, 338, or 450W
    • Recommended: HIST/GWSS-126, ENVS-180Q, ECON/GWSS-210, ENVS/PHIL-248, ENVS/HIST-254, SOC-255, ENVS/SOC-288, ENVS/MCS-302, HIST-330, POL-343, 356, 359, MCS-335, or IDS/GWSS-441; Any of above not already selected

    Students in the Applied Sustainability track are strongly encouraged to seek an XLP that reinforces their personal, academic, and professional goals in this area.

    Biodiversity & Wildlife Conservation Concentration

    Students seeking to complete the Biodiversity & Wildlife Conservation concentration in ENVS should ensure they complete the following specific courses as part of their ENVS major. Completion of the concentration will likely require completing more than the minimum 14 courses needed for the standard major. Completion of this concentration will result in a B.S. in ENVS.

    • Organismal (select 1): ENVS/BIO-325, 334, 360, 365, 375, 442W, or BIO-359
    • Ecological Systems (select 1): ENVS/BIO-310, 320, 330, or 336
    • Global Change (select 1): ENVS-240Q, 370, ENVS/BIO-419
    • Integrative Science (select 1): ENVS/BIO-415W, 455W, or ENVS-454W
    • Social-Ecological Systems (select 1): ENVS/SOC-288, ENVS-332, 338, 366
    • Decision-Making (select 1): ENVS-364, 428
    • Recommended: STAT 141Q and 142Q; ENVS/SOC-220, ENVS/PHIL-248, ENVS/HIST-254; Any of above requirements not already selected

    Students in the Biodiversity & Wildlife Conservation track are strongly encouraged to seek out and complete an XLP that provides additional experience that reinforces their personal, academic, and professional goals in some aspect of biodiversity & wildlife conservation.

    Climate Change Concentration:

    Students seeking to complete the Climate Change concentration in ENVS should ensure they complete the following specific courses as part of their ENVS major when possible. Completion of the concentration will likely require completing more than the minimum 14 courses needed for the standard major. Completion of this track will result in a B.S. in ENVS.

    • Climate Science (select 2): ENVS-370, 452W, ENVS/BIO-419W
    • Related Science (select 3): ENVS-180Q, 266Q, 361, 372, ENVS/BIO-330, ENVS/GEOS-142Q, or 240Q
    • Human Impact on Systems (select 1): ENVS-242, 332, 338, 366, or 454W
    • Climate-Related Social Systems (select 1): ENVS/SOC-220, 290, ENVS/PHIL-248, ENVS/MCS-302, or ENVS-340
    • Recommended: ENVS/HIST-254, ENVS/PSYCH-260, IDS/GWSS-441, or STAT-141Q or MTH-111; Any of above requirements not already selected

    Students in the Climate Change track are strongly encouraged to seek out and complete an XLP that provides additional experience that reinforces their personal, academic, and professional goals in some aspect of climate change studies.

    Earth and Environmental Science Concentration:

    Students seeking to complete the Earth and Environmental Science concentration in ENVS should ensure they complete the following specific courses as part of their ENVS major. Completion of the concentration will likely require completing more than the minimum 14 courses needed for the standard major. Completion of this track will result in a B.S. in ENVS.

    • Intro Geoscience (select 1): ENVS/GEOS-102Q or 142Q
    • Intermediate Geoscience (select 2): ENVS-180Q, 266, or ENVS/GEOS-240Q
    • Advanced Geoscience (select 1): ENVS-361, 370, or 372
    • Environmental Science (select 1): ENVS/BIO-334, 415W, or CHEM-315
    • Humans and ENV (select 1): ENVS-242, 332, or 340
    • Recommended: ENVS/SOC-220, ENVS/PHIL-248, ENVS/PSYCH-260, or ENVS/MCS-302; ENVS-452W or 454W; CHEM-107/107LQ and 108/108LQ; STAT-141Q or MTH-111; Any of above requirements not already selected

    Students in the Earth & Environmental Science track are strongly encouraged to seek out and complete an XLP that provides additional experience that reinforces their personal, academic, and professional goals in some aspect of earth and environmental science.

    Environmental Justice Concentration:

    Students seeking to complete the Environmental Justice concentration in ENVS should ensure they complete the following specific courses as part of their ENVS major. Completion of the concentration will likely require completing more than the minimum 14 courses needed for the standard major.

    • Environmental Justice Focused (select 2): ENVS/SOC-220, ENVS/RELS-261, PSJ-200, or ENVS-428W
    • Human Circumstances in the Env (select 2): ENVS-242, 243, 332, 338, 362, ENVS/HIST-254, or POL-356
    • Natural Science & EJ (select 1): ENVS-180Q, 266Q, 361, 370W, or ENVS/BIO-419W
    • Taking Action (select 1): ENVS-340, 364, ENVS/PHIL-248, ENVS/SOC-290, ENVS/MCS-302, ENVS/POL-351, or MCS-335
    • Recommended: ECON/GWSS-210, SOC-255, or ENVS/PSYCH-260, ENVS-450W, 452W, 454W; Any of above requirements not already selected

    Students in the Environmental Justice track are strongly encouraged to seek out and complete an XLP that provides additional experience that reinforces their personal, academic, and professional goals in some aspect of environmental justice.

    Food Studies Concentration:

    Students seeking to complete the Food Studies concentration in the ENVS major should complete the following courses as part of or in addition to courses for their ENVS major. Completion of the concentration will likely require completing more than the minimum 14 courses needed for the standard major.

    • Cultural & Ecological Dimensions of Food (select 2): ENVS-243, ENVS/ANTH-230, or ENVS/BIO-234
    • Agroecology (select 2): ENVS/BIO-325, 334, 415W, or 455W, or ENVS-454W
    • Food and Social-Ecological Systems (select 1): ENVS-242, 338, 366, or ENVS/SOC-288
    • Food and Society (select 1): ENVS/SOC-220, ENVS/PHIL-248, POL-343, or 354
    • Recommended: Any of above requirements not already selected.

    Students in the Food Studies track are strongly encouraged to seek out and complete an XLP that provides additional experience that reinforces their personal, academic, and professional goals in some aspect of food studies.

    Requirements for Minors

    All students minoring in Environment and Sustainability must complete a minimum of six courses that count towards the ENVS major:

    • ENVS-100
    • ENVS-120 
    • ENVS-244 or one environmental or ecological science (ENVS/GEOS-102Q does not fulfill this requirement)
    • One introductory synthesis course or an ENVS social science or humanities course
    • One intermediate synthesis course
    • One additional course from one of the following categories: intermediate synthesis, advanced critical thinking, or advanced synthesis (capstone)

    If they have not already done so, students minoring in ENVS are also encouraged to take an advanced synthesis capstone course (ENVS-450W, 452W or 454W). ENVS-350 (Topics in Environment and Sustainability) courses, independent research, or internships may satisfy the requirements of the minor. Students must receive permission of the ENVS chair for independent research or an internship to fulfill requirements of the minor.

    Related interdisciplinary minors include:

    Teaching Certification in Environmental Education

    Students interested in teaching may obtain a Pennsylvania teaching certification in Environmental Education (K-12). Requirements for certification include the successful completion of a major in Environmental Studies, a minimum GPA of 2.7 in Environmental Studies coursework, and other requirements as specified by the Ursinus College Education Department and the State of Pennsylvania. These additional requirements include further coursework, a minimum GPA of 3.0 in Education courses, an overall GPA of 3.0, any necessary PAPA (Reading, Writing, and Mathematics) and Praxis II exams, and student teaching. Please work in close coordination with your academic advisor within Environmental Studies and consult the Ursinus College Education Department to coordinate your schedule to fulfill these requirements.