Environmental Studies Major | Environmental Studies Minor

General Distribution Requirements

ENVI 104, ENVI 120, ENVI 130, ENVI 133ENVI 144, ENVI 150, ENVI 160,ENVI 235, ENVI 240ENVI 285ENVI 344 and ENVI 360 count toward the general distribution requirement in mathematics and natural science. ENVI 172ENVI 203, ENVI 215, ENVI 225, ENVI 231, ENVI 232ENVI 237, ENVI 252ENVI 254, ENVI 258, ENVI 259, ENVI 270ENVI 275, ENVI 333, ENVI 335ENVI 368, ENVI 375, ENVI 477, and ENVI 478 count toward the general distribution requirement in social science. ENVI 221, ENVI 234, ENVI 236, ENVI 262, ENVI 280ENVI 281, ENVI 340, and ENVI 343 count toward the distribution requirement in humanities.

General Education Requirements

Courses that meet the general education requirements in writing, quantitative thinking, internationalism and U.S identities and differences will be posted on the Registrar's web page in advance of registration for each semester. Additional information general distribution requirement and the general education requirements can be found in the graduation requirements section of this catalog.

Advanced Placement

Students who received a score of 4 or 5 on the Advanced Placement (AP) environmental science exam will receive 4 credits towards the College's graduation requirement but it does not fulfill any requirements for the ES major.

Honors Program

The Environmental Studies Department participates in the honors program. Eligibility requirements, application procedures, and specific project expectations for the Environmental Studies Department are available from either the department office or the Director of Academic Programs.

Topics Courses

ENVI 194, ENVI 294, ENVI 394, ENVI 494 

Topics are occasional courses, offered by instructors at their own initiative or in response to student requests. They will be announced at registration. Topics courses, depending on their content, may satisfy major requirements or college distribution requirements. This will be noted in the course description available for registration. (4 credits)

Independent Study

The department offers independent study options in the form of independent projects, internships, preceptorships and Honors independent projects. For more information contact the department and review the Curriculum section of the catalog.

Environmental Studies Major

Major Requirements

The Environmental Studies major consists of 7 courses (26 credits) in environmental studies plus a 7-course emphasis.

1.  Foundations Courses: These courses are meant to introduce students to the range of topics and approaches utilized in studying environmental issues.

2.  Disciplinary or Interdisciplinary Emphasis: The emphasis allows students to gain depth, either by learning how one discipline approaches environmental issues or by taking an interdisciplinary perspective to understand a particular environmental theme or problem.  The emphasis is a series of seven courses to provide depth that include a methods course and a research-based course.

Disciplinary Emphases:

  • Anthropology
  • Biology
  • Chemistry
  • Economics
  • Education Studies
  • Geography
  • Geology
  • History
  • Mathematics/Computer Science
  • Philosophy
  • Physics
  • Political Science
  • Psychology

Interdisciplinary Emphases:

  • Climate Science and Policy
  • Communication Studies
  • Community and Global Health
  • Environmental Justice
  • Food Systems
  • International Environment and Development
  • Sustainable Design

3.  Capstone:  As the capstone course for the ES major, this combined internship and seminar course provides students the opportunity to reflect on their career goals while gaining "real world" experience working for a local nonprofit, agency, or company.  Students reflect on the skills they have gained, network with professionals in the field, and chart out a plan for their first five years out of college.  The courses are to be taken concurrently in the fall semester of the senior year. 

Preapproved Disciplinary Emphases

Anthropology

Required course: (choose 1)

Methods course: (choose 1)

Research course: (choose 1)

Elective courses: (choose 4)

Biology

Required courses:

Methods course:

Research course: (choose 1)

Elective course:

  • 1 approved elective course (may be a pre-approved study away course)

Chemistry

Required courses:

Methods course: (choose 1)

Research course: (choose 1)

Economics 

Required courses:

Methods course: (choose 1)

Research course:

Elective courses: (choose 2)

Note that this emphasis fulfills the requirements for a minor in Economics

Educational Studies

Required courses:

Methods course:

Research course:

Elective courses:

Geography

Required course:

Methods course: (choose 1)

Research course: (choose 1)

Elective courses:

Geology

Required courses:

Methods course: (choose 1)

Research course: (choose 1)

Elective courses: (choose 2)

History

Methods course:

Research course: (choose 1)

Elective courses (choose 5)

  • At least 4 of the 7 required courses should be cross-listed between history and ES (or otherwise have a clear environmental focus)

Mathematics/Computer Science

Required courses:

Methods course:

Research course:

Elective courses:  (choose 2 with the same prefix, in addition to a research course)

Note that many upper-level MATH and COMP courses have additional prerequisites.

Philosophy

Required courses:

Methods course:

Research course:

  • To be chosen in collaboration with advisor

Elective courses: (choose 3)

  • To be chosen in collaboration with advisor

Physics

Required courses:

Methods course:

Research course: (choose 1)

Elective courses:

  • 1 or 2 courses above the 300 level (2 courses if PHYS 614 was not taken)

Political Science

Methods course:

Research course

Choose 1 of 2 tracks:

A.  American Politics

B.  International Politics

Psychology

Required courses:

Methods course: (choose 1)

Research course:

Elective courses: (choose 2)

Preapproved Interdisciplinary Emphases

Climate Science and Policy

Consensus is growing on the national and international scale that climate change is real and urgent action is needed. However, responses differ among policy makers and other actors about the methods we should use to implement energy efficiency and renewable energy solutions. This interdisciplinary emphasis examines the climate change problem and the most effective policy and development options for carbon mitigation strategies. Students can opt for a emphasis that weighs more heavily on either the science or policy dimensions.

Required courses:

Methods course: (choose 1)

Research course:

ENVI 335

Elective courses: (choose 3)

Note that ECON electives require ECON 119 - Principles of Economics  as a prerequisite.

Communication Studies

Communication of environmental ideas and beliefs by individuals, institutions, societies, and cultures are central to the definition and solution of environmental problems. This emphasis focuses on how environmental messages and media (traditional and social media) are crafted, distributed, and received.  This includes a wide range of themes including journalism, social marketing, risk communication and collaboration and conflict.

Required courses:

Methods course: (choose 1)

Research course:

  • The required courses fulfill this requirement

Elective courses: (choose 3)

NOTE:  Students completing this emphasis are required to also register for a Media and Cultural Studies minor (there are no additional courses required).  It is understood that students will seek out opportunities to develop environmental themes in their project/portfolio work in the non-ES courses.

Community and Global Health

The emphasis in Community and Global Health (CGH) aims to connect the Environmental Studies major with the College's Concentration in Community and Global Health. Environmental conditions are known to have a significant impact on human health. Students in the CGH emphasis receive an introduction to the issues involved in health issues and then can take a broad interdisciplinary approach to these issues or tailor the emphasis with a focus on science, social science or humanities.

Required courses:

Methods course:

Research course: (choose 1)

Elective courses: (choose 2)

Environmental Justice

Poor and minority populations have historically borne the brunt of environmental inequalities in the United States, suffering disproportionately from the effects of pollution, dispossession of land, resource depletion, dangerous jobs, limited access to common resources, and exposure to environmental hazards. This interdisciplinary emphasis focuses on the ways that race, ethnicity, class, and gender have shaped the political and economic dimensions of environmental injustices, along with more recent political movements pushing to rectify environmental injustices and to develop new possibilities for understanding the human place in nature.

Required core courses:

Methods course: (choose 1)

Research course: (choose 1)

Elective courses: (choose 3)

Food Systems

The food system emphasis allows focus on an interconnected set of biological, technological, economic, and social issues that connect to how food systems work.  Food system topics include small and large scale food production, access and consumption issues as well as a concern for the biophysical properties to agroecological systems.

Required courses:

Methods course:

Research course: (choose 1)

Electives: (choose 3 in consultation with your advisor)

International Environment and Development

This interdisciplinary emphasis focuses on the concept of sustainable development by tracing historical and contemporary understandings of wealth and resource distribution within and between countries.  These courses provide students with a grounding in the economic, political, and cultural conceptions of development, focusing on states in the Global South.

Required course:

Methods course: (choose 1)

Research course: (choose 1)

Elective courses: (choose 4)

Sustainable Design

By marshaling natural resources in creative ways and on an unprecedented scale, industrial nations have developed new methods of converting the raw materials of nature--wood and metal, soil and water, coal and oil--into an economy capable of delivering fantastic comfort, abundance, and convenience to a steadily growing number of people. Yet the material advances of the industrial revolution are also directly responsible for many of the most serious environmental problems that now confront humanity. This interdisciplinary emphasis combines coursework at Macalester and DIS - Copenhagen to develop the skills of sustainable design: the active attempt to re-design the material world in ways that mitigate or eliminate the negative environmental impact of the buildings, products, and industrial systems on which the modern world relies.

Required courses:

Methods course: (choose 1)

  • DIS - Architecture Foundations Studio
  • DIS - Sustainable By Design

Research course:

Elective courses:

  • 3 other Art or Architecture courses (from Macalester or on study away program)

Environmental Studies Minor

Minor Requirements

The Environmental Studies minor consists of 5 courses (20 credits) in environmental studies: