Environmental Studies

Imagining a just future for all on a changing planet

Why major in Environmental Studies at Macalester?

In a word: Action.

For nearly fifty years, Macalester has had a dedicated and deeply interdisciplinary focus on Environmental Studies. We use case studies, problem-solving, and a community-centered approach to address environmental problems at the local, national and global levels.

Our faculty bring expertise from the humanities, social sciences, physical, and biological sciences. Our affiliated faculty in other departments come from all corners of campus, including anthropology, biology, chemistry, economics, education, geography, geology, GIS, philosophy, and physics.


Our students work with faculty through summer research fellowships on tropical rainforests, climate change policy, paleoclimate, and the psychology of behavioral change.

Many students go on to conduct independent research culminating in honors theses such as how agriculture might mitigate climate change; lowering the implementation barriers to photovoltaics; and global sanitation challenges.

Life after Macalester

After Macalester, Environmental Studies students pursue a variety of options in graduate school and employment.

Environmental Studies in the cities

Logo of Ordway Nature Center

A 300-acre field study lab is only 15 minutes from campus.


Number of internships within 8 miles of campus, including governmental organizations on the leading edge of urban sustainability.

Minnesota’s state capitol is 6 miles from campus, allowing students easy access to state legislators and agencies.

Join our community

We don’t just talk about environmental issues here, we also take part in them.

  • EnviroThursdays—bring your bag lunch and join the community to hear from local and national experts at one of Macalester’s longest running public seminars
  • Mac Bike—bike advocacy and a repair workshop
  • MacCARES—Macalester Conservation and Renewable Energy Society
  • MULCH—Macalester Urban Land and Community Health maintains a campus garden and chicken coop.
  • Outing Club—adventures in the great outdoors
  • Ecohouse—a living and learning residential option where students test various green technologies and lifestyle choices
  • MacShares—the student run bulk food-buying club
  • Fossil Free Mac- a group dedicated to fossil fuel divestment at Macalester and beyond
  • Macalester Sunrise - a local chapter of the Sunrise Movement, a youth-led movement organizing for political action on the climate crisis
Photo of students in the Climate Strike
Students marched from campus to the state capitol in September as part of the international Climate Strike.

Sustainability goals

Macalester is committed to leading by example. Our sustainability initiatives focus on achieving carbon neutrality, zero waste, and investing in campus based sustainable agriculture and fair trade.