FAQs for Environmental Studies Students

What are these Environmental Studies emphases all about?

Students can take the core Environmental Studies major by itself, as an Environmental Studies BA. Or, they can select one of four emphasis areas that provides an in-depth, skills-building degree in that particular area.

  • Environmental Studies, BA (no emphasis)
  • Education & Eco-Social Justice Emphasis, BA
  • Geography Emphasis, BA
  • Geographic Information Science Emphasis, BA
  • Policy, Politics, and Governance Emphasis, BA

All our majors take an interdisciplinary and holistic approach to understanding human-environment systems and environmental challenges. No matter which emphasis you choose, you will take core classes in the natural sciences, social sciences, and humanities to prepare you to integrate knowledge from multiple fields of study. You will learn to analyze and interpret complex environmental data and communicate environmental information for diverse stakeholders.

What do majors in Environmental Studies look like?

ENVS Major (81-86 credits)

(no courses may be double counted)

Environmental Studies Foundations (27 credits)

  • ENVS 201: Understanding Environmental Data and Information
  • ENVS 203: Physical Geography
  • ENVS 204: Human Geography
  • ESCI 225: Beginning Ecology
  • ENVS 302: Navigating Environmental Studies (1 credit, new)
  • ENVS 303: Introduction to Environmental Studies
  • ENVS 305: Introduction to Environmental Studies II
  • ENVS 499A or ENVS 499A: Environmental Speaker Series

Environmental Studies Core Knowledge Areas (24-29 credits)

Environmental Data Analysis & Communication (6-8 credits)

The Biophysical Environment (8 credits)

Socio-ecological Systems (3-4 credits)

Social Justice and the Environment (4 credits)

Institutions and Environmental Governance (3-5 credits)

Depth and Specialization (20-22 credits)

Select 20 credits of upper-division College of the Environment courses of your choice


Complete a minor in a related department/field 


Complete requirements for one of the Environmental Studies emphasis 

Culminating Experiences (8 credits)

Qualifying courses may include: 

  • ENVS 437: Faculty-Led Study Abroad
  • ENVS 498A: Senior Thesis
  • ENVS 498B: Internship
  • ENVS 498C: Senior Project
  • ENVS 498D: International Study
  • Any College of the Environment course with a CPST (capstone) designation

See the University Catalog for degree-specific details.

I'm interested in environmental policy. What are my options?

Environmental policy is a fascinating field and the College of the Environment provides you with two options.

  • In the Environmental Studies department, you can major in Environmental Studies -- Policy, Politics, and Governance Emphasis, BA. Here, you'll learn about multiple approaches for bringing about societal change, including formal policy, social movements, formal and informal governance, and private sector processes.
  • The Urban and Environmental Planning & Policy Department also now offers an Environmental Policy BA. That degree is more focused on governmental policy processes and the implementation of existing legal frameworks for environmental protection.
  • If you are intrigued about environmental policy but already have a major, check out the Environmental Studies Department's Environmental Policy Minor.


Additional questions?

Contact the Department Chair, Rebekah Paci-Green at Rebekah-Paci-Green@wwu.edu