Professor Neil Tabor, Director
The natural systems that constitute Earth’s environment are in continuous mutual interaction. These interactions occur on spatial scales that range from microscopic to global and on temporal scales that range from fractions of a second to millions of years. Scientific efforts to understand how the activities of humans affect the workings of such a complex arrangement must properly involve the identification and study of the fundamental processes operating at present in Earth’s environment. Furthermore, to apply such knowledge with skill, insight and perspective, information must also be acquired on the extent to which ancient environmental conditions on Earth may have differed from those observed today and how such changes affected life on the planet. An intellectual and practical scientific problem of such vast scope must be approached in an interdisciplinary manner. This interdisciplinary requirement is important not only for students who will become professional environmental scientists, but also for those who want a solid scientific foundation for postgraduate training in environmental law, public policy, business and other fields.
The program includes a set of core courses that provide the student with the necessary background in chemistry, Earth science, physics, biology and mathematics to move into an Earth science, chemistry or biology emphasis in the upper-division courses. All environmental science majors come together their senior year in a multidisciplinary seminar in environmental science. Juniors and seniors may do an internship (e.g., with a nonprofit agency, an environmental lawyer, or an assessment and remediation company) for course credit and by special arrangement.
The environmental sciences major requires 68 total hours, consisting of 50 hours of core classes and 15–18 hours of electives taken with an emphasis in chemistry, Earth science or biology.