All right, I admit. The title might be a bit too true, but when I was high school, I remember most students just referred to Environmental Studies as a “joke science.” A “joke science” in the sense that the material was relatively easy to grasp for non-STEM-minded people (a.k.a. me) Basically carbon pollution from countries trying to generate electricity, automobiles, and heating buildings is causing sea levels to rise. Everyone should try to be more “eco-friendly”, recycle, hug a tree, etc. That’s what Environmental Studies is all about, right? If your thoughts on Environmental Studies are even remotely close to what I just mentioned above, then good thing you found this article. It’s much, much more than mainstream environmental awareness.
I was fortunate enough to take a U.S.-China Water Policy course in our Political Science department that was cross-listed under Environmental Studies. Through this course, I learned the intersections between environmental concerns found in the sciences and how it was translated into policies revolving how people interacted with the ecological systems. These in-depth topics and concerns are the heart of Environmental Studies, which should not be taken as a “joke science” or even taken lightly. This article provide a brief run-down of what an Environmental Studies major actually learn in college, the skills you will gain from your studies, and what career options you have with it.
What is Environmental Studies?
Environment Studies is study of sustainable future for environments for humans and ecological systems. That is what the field is in the simplest terms. In greater depth, Environmental Studies covers a range of interdisciplinary topics such as politics, engineering, biology, urban planning, and more. You can often find Environmental Studies paired with another major such as Engineering or Political Science for greater depth in a specific field. Each of these specific fields, or concentrations, provides greater knowledge of the relationship between humans and the environment.
What kind of skills can you development?
From your studies, you can develop many importable and vital skills from becoming a Environmental Studies major. These are important skills that can translate to not only your resume or career path, but also for handling daily situations such as understanding what environmental legislation happening in your local/state/federal government. The ability to critical analyze information and articulate your perspectives as well as results through writing. Depending on what speciality in Environmental Studies you enjoy the most, you can develop more specialized skills such as working in a lab or utilizing GIS software.
What kind of careers can you enter then with Environmental Studies?
With the skills you develop from your Environmental Studies program, you can enter a variety of career paths. Below are some options that are most related your studies. Some of them might require you to pursue a master’s degree in a more specified field in Environmental Studies.
- Academia (Researcher, Professor, Teacher)
- Environmental Law
- Government (Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Parks and Recreation Services, etc.)
- Public Health
- Urban Planner
What are some good Environmental Studies undergraduate programs?
While there is not “best” undergraduate program for Environmental Studies, it is important to make sure a college or university you are interested offer Environmental Studies in the first place. In addition, you should take into account the kind of environment you want to be in when you’re learning (small class size, seminars, labs, etc.) In addition, check out what study abroad programs the college or university offers for Environmental Studies. Below are a some colleges or universities that are known to have a good Environmental Studies program to get your college list going:
- Dickenson College – Environmental Studies
- Cornell University – Environmental Studies
- Middlebury College – Environmental Studies
- University of Colorado: Boulder – Environmental Studies
- Whitman College – Environmental Studies