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Major in Environmental Studies

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Terraced rice paddies
Terraced rice paddies and timber plantations in Japan.

The expanding human population faces many environmental challenges, including the loss of biological diversity, the fragmentation of habitats, the effects of floods and earthquakes, the need for food resources, and the degradation of water supplies. These challenges are inherently interdisciplinary.

In order to understand the issues and make informed decisions, we need information from the natural sciences, the social sciences, and the arts and humanities. Beloit College offers students multiple paths of study to explore environmental issues. Students may major in Environmental Studies (arts or social sciences focused) or Environmental Science (Environmental Biology, Environmental Chemistry, or Environmental Geology). In addition, students may minor in Environmental Studies.

Internships, research experiences, and off-campus study offer students additional ways to explore environmental studies.

Environmental Studies Major

The environmental studies major provides an interdisciplinary approach to the study of interactions between humans and the environment, with a focus on the arts or social sciences. It is organized into two tracks: Track 1: Environmental Communication and Arts is oriented to the arts and humanities; Track 2: Environmental Justice and Citizenship has a social science focus.

Both tracks include introductory courses in the arts and humanities, the social sciences, and the natural sciences. Core environmental courses, selected for their appropriateness to the student’s interests and proclivities in humanistic or social-scientific environmental study, introduce the interdisciplinary study of environmental issues. Concentration courses allow students to further deepen their knowledge and acquire skills necessary for the practice of Environmental Communication and Arts, or Environmental Justice and Citizenship. Environmental Studies 380: Senior Colloquium in Environmental Studies provides an opportunity for students from both tracks to reflect together upon the diverse perspectives on environmental issues they have studied.

Environmental Science Majors

For students with interests in environmental science, three interdisciplinary majors are available.

Environmental Biology Major
The environmental biology major provides a broad background in the biological sciences with a focus on how humans interact with their biological environments.

Environmental Chemistry Major
The environmental chemistry major provides an understanding of the chemical sciences with a focus on environmental processes and human interactions with these processes.

Environmental Geology Major
The environmental geology major provides an understanding of how soil, water, and mineral resources form and involves the practical application of geologic principles in the solving of environmental problems.

Environmental Studies Minor

The environmental studies minor offers the opportunity to study environmentally related topics in economics, political science, natural science, philosophy, and environmental studies courses.