Environmental Studies Requirements

  • Human relationships with the natural world range across disciplines, from the cultural, philosophical, ethical, and aesthetic to the scientific, economic and political. Environmental Studies (ENV) is an interdisciplinary major, in which students learn critical thinking, analytical, and problem-solving skills. ENV students learn to synthesize diverse disciplines 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 theory and research methods, independent research, internships, and course-based service-learning are all integral to the ENV major.

    ENV students are active on and off campus, working with members of the faculty, staff, and administration and with members of the local community on research and sustainability projects involving recycling, energy efficiency, water resource management, purchasing and contracting policies, planning and land management, reforestation and forest mapping activities, food systems and agriculture, and other issues. ENV students have held internships in many local, regional, and national organizations involved in all facets of environmental science and policy, with organizations such as the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. National Marine Sanctuary Program, 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. ENV majors’ professional experiences are tied closely to the ENV academic program; the integrated nature of ENV’s approach to learning and practice helps to prepare ENV majors to be successful leaders and decision makers in the environmental arena.

    In addition to the focus on service and practice in the ENV curriculum, Ursinus College features a Sustainability Office, the staff of which work to connect students, faculty, and staff on the college’s sustainability initiatives.

    The ENV major offers both a breadth of environmental education and the opportunity for students to focus on an area of expertise relevant to promoting critical thinking and an environmentally sustainable society. Students majoring in environmental studies at Ursinus prepare for successful graduate study and careers in environmental sciences, conservation, policy, planning, education, engineering, agriculture, journalism, law, and many other areas.

    Requirements for Majors

    All students majoring in Environmental Studies must take a minimum of 12 courses, including ENV-100, an internship, an elective, and one course from each of the following categories: introductory natural science, intermediate natural science, advanced natural science, introductory social science or humanities, introductory synthesis, intermediate synthesis with community engagement and applied problem-solving, intermediate synthesis with interdisciplinary data analysis and problem-solving, advanced critical thinking, and capstone. At least two of three natural science courses must have a S designation (BIO-101 and one from either the introductory or advanced natural science categories below).  All ENV majors are also encouraged to complete a minor (or major) in an additional field of study. Environmental Studies majors fulfill the college requirements for writing, oral presentations, and capstone experience by completing one of the Environmental Studies capstone courses: ENV-450W, 452W, or 454W. The ENV capstone courses also convey the applied nature of ENV by engaging students in an applied group project. These projects typically entail a partnership with either an off-campus organization or another (i.e., non-ENV) branch of the College. The ENV curricular requirements are as follows: 

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

    • ENV-100, Introduction to Environmental Studies
    • One introductory natural science course (BIO-101Q; CHEM-101Q/101L; ENV-140Q, 142; or, if the department chair approves, ENV-112)
    • One intermediate natural science course (ENV/BIO-234, ENV-244, 266, 268, or, if the department chair approves, ENV-350)
    • One advanced natural science course (ENV/BIO-310, 320, 325, 330, 334, 336, 365, 415W, 455W; ENV-370, 372, or, if the department chair approves, ENV-350)
    • One introductory social science or humanities course (ENV-110, 111, 216, 238; ENV/SOC-220; ENV/ANTH-230; ENV/PHIL-248; ENV/PSYC-260; ENV/ENGL-262; ENV/SOC-288; ENV/SOC-290; ENV/HIST-254; ENV/MCS-302 or, if the department chair approves, ENV-350)
    • Three synthesis courses (one from each of the following synthesis categories): 
      • one introductory synthesis course (ENV-242, 272, or, if the department chair approves, ENV-350)
      • one intermediate synthesis course with community engagement and applied problem-solving (ENV-332, 338, 340, or, if the department chair approves, ENV-350)
      • one intermediate synthesis course on interdisciplinary data analysis and problem-solving (ENV-360, 366, or, if the department chair approves, ENV-350)
    • One social science course in advanced critical thinking: ENV-428W, 430W, or, if the department chair approves, ENV-350)
    • One advanced synthesis capstone course in synthesis, integration, and community engagement: ENV-450W, 452W, or 454W
    • Completion of an internship: ENV-381 or 382
    • One ENV elective - For their elective, ENV majors must complete one of the following: an additional course from any of the non-internship categories listed above, four credits of ENV practicum (ENV-001 – ENV-008), four credits of directed research (ENV-391, ENV-392), or MATH/STAT-141Q. Only one three- or four-credit internship will count toward the major requirements. Substitutions may be made with the approval of the ENV Chair.

    In consultation with the ENV Chair, students may petition to have ENV-481W or 482W (independent research), or ENV-491W and 492W (honors research) satisfy requirements in one of the natural science, social science/humanities, or synthesis categories. For independent or honors research to fulfill the major requirements, students must have completed 12 semester hours of environmental studies courses, including ENV-100, and receive permission of the ENV Chair.

    ENV majors will receive a B.A. or B.S. degree. Students who minor or double major in a natural science discipline will have the option to elect a B.S. degree (for example, ENV majors who minor in Politics will receive a B.A., etc.; however, ENV majors who minor in Biology may elect to receive a B.S.).

    Requirements for Minors

    All students minoring in Environmental Studies must complete a minimum of six courses that count towards the environmental studies major:

    • ENV-100
    • One introductory synthesis course 
    • One course in introductory, intermediate, or advanced natural science
    • One course in introductory social science and humanities or advanced critical thinking
    • One intermediate synthesis course
    • One additional course from one of the following categories: intermediate synthesis, advanced critical thinking course, or advanced synthesis.  ENV/GEOL-102Q does not fulfill this requirement. 

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

    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.