Environmental Sciences Degree (Sc.B.)
The Environmental Science degree is intended for students who have a strong interest in science and a concern for the environment. In common with other ScB concentrators, it is important for an Environmental Science concentrator to begin to meet the requirements of the concentration as soon as possible, and early consultation with one of our ESci Coordinators (Stephen Porder, Jack Mustard and Dov Sax) is encouraged. The nineteen courses required for the ScB in Environmental Science include: eight environmental core courses, three basic science courses, six focal courses and two thesis courses. Remember that these are minimum requirements, and that many concentrators will want to supplement this minimum with additional courses to strengthen their concentration.
Environmental Core Courses
Environmental Science concentrators must complete the following courses:
- ENVS0110 or equivalent (equivalents could include GE0l0070B Global Envtl Change, ES0070A, Environment and Society or a similar course from transferring institution depending on the student’s situation. Substitution requires approval of the concentration advisor. A score of 5 on the AP exam can be used to satisfy ES11 or ES49 with permission of the concentration advisor.)
- Competence in statistics (e.g., PHP2030, APMA1650, PSYC0090). Familiarity with statistics is essential to the interpretation and evaluation of data. All concentrators are expected to acquire a working knowledge of probability and statistical tests and how to employ them. Courses that will fulfill this requirement include:, BI/C213, AM165 and AM34.
- All Environmental Science concentrators must take ESVS1920, Analysis and Resolution of Environmental Problems, a project-based seminar also required for the Environmental Studies degree. A local environmental problem that has strong science and policy components will be the focus of this class, and the class members will work in teams to address different aspects of the issue. This class is best taken in the Spring of the junior year, and should no case be taken in a student's final semester, since one purpose of the seminar is preparing for thesis research. Another purpose is to bring both Studies and Science concentrators together, so that they can share their expertise and interests.
- Three intermediate level environmental science courses appropriate to the student's focus, e.g.,
- ENVS0490, Environmental Science
- BIOL0420, Principles of Ecology
- GEOL0220, Physical Processes in Geology
- Environmental Science concentrators must complete two intermediate level non-science courses appropriate to the student's focus, such as:
- ENVS0510, International Environmental Policy
- ENVS1350, Environmental Economics
- ENVS1350, Environmental Economics
- ENVS1410, Environmental Policy and Practice
- HIST1790, North American Environmental History
Basic Science Courses
Environmental Science concentrators must demonstrate competence in chemistry and mathematics. This is normally satisfied by completing at least three courses drawn from the following areas:
Mathematics is a cornerstone of the sciences. Students are expected to study one year of mathematics, which will generally involve study of the calculus, typically MA9-10, or for those with appropriate background, MA17-18.
Some background in chemistry is essential for students of environmental science. All students are expected to develop an understanding of chemistry at least equivalent to one year of General Chemistry. CH33 is a semester-long course requiring a placement exam before admittance. Additional study at the introductory level would include organic chemistry (CH35-36) which is required for more advanced courses in biochemistry (BI127), inorganic chemistry (CH50), or physical chemistry (CH114).
Students anticipating a focus on the physical aspects of environmental science, e.g., meteorology, oceanography, or engineering, are strongly encouraged to include in their introduction to the basic sciences a year of introductory physics. Possible sequences include PH3-4, PHYS0050-0060, or ENGN0030-0040.
Since the secondary school preparation of students varies widely, the appropriate selection of basic science courses should be done in consultation with an academic advisor. In particular, it is strongly recommended that students with Advanced Placement in calculus or a basic science make use of the opportunity to strengthen their mathematics or science backgrounds further by enrolling in a more advanced course in the same subject. Advanced placement credit for mathematics may be used to satisfy the mathematics competency requirement and reduce the total number of courses required for a concentration in Environmental Science to 18. Advanced Placement credit for any of the above-mentioned non-mathematics courses may be used to satisfy the three-course basic science requirement, but may not be used for concentration credit. An equal number of basic and/or focal courses will be added, such that the total number of courses required for a concentration in Environmental Science remains at 19.
It is emphasized that a student may elect to take more than the required minimum of three courses from these areas. Extra basic science courses above the introductory level and relevant to the student’s focal area may be counted toward the six required focal courses. The overall plan of study must be approved by your concentration committee.
In consultation with their committee, Environmental Science concentrators will select six courses that have cohesion and generally build in challenge. At least five of these must be natural/physical science courses beyond the introductory level (i.e. which have prerequisites). Three of the six must be at the 0100 level, and at least one course must have a laboratory or field-based component. Ideally, these courses will include the following skills:
- experimental design, quantitative analysis or modeling
- critical analysis of scientific literature
- written work with a science focus
The Environmental Science Thesis
You will develop your thesis proposal in consultation with your thesis sponsor and the ESci coordinator (Heather Leslie). The thesis must have a primary science focus involving laboratory or field work or modeling and it must involve policy relevant science with broad environmental relevance. You must successfully complete two semesters of thesis credit (ENVS1970, 1971). For complete thesis information, refer to Thesis Guidelines, a separate document.
Advising Process for the Environmental Science Degree
- It is best if by the end of the third semester, you have obtained agreement from a science faculty member with compatible interests to serve with the ESci coordinator as your concentration committee. It is important that you consult with both members of your committee before you begin courses in your fourth semester.
- By no later than the middle of the fourth semester, (and preferably earlier), it is your responsibility to convene your concentration committee to plan your concentration (separate meetings with individual faculty will not suffice).
- The University requires that approved concentrations be filed in advance of registration for the fifth semester. For the ScB, it is prudent to be certain that fourth semester courses are suitable for your concentration focus. After your concentration forms are completed and signed by the ESci coordinator (Heather Leslie), you should turn them in to the Administrative Manager in the UEL (Patti Caton).
- Revisions to the concentration may be made only with advance approval from your concentration committee.
- Your concentration committee will advise you on thesis topic selection. You should start talking with your concentration advisors about potential thesis topics and funding opportunities no later than the end of your fifth semester.