Jun 02, 2023  
2022-2023 Catalog 
2022-2023 Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

College of the Environment


Teena Gabrielson, Dean

College of the Environment is one of seven colleges constituting Western Washington University, consistently recognized as one of the outstanding public institutions of higher education in the West.

As one of the oldest environmental colleges in the nation, College of the Environment is a recognized leader in producing the next generation of environmental professionals, stewards, and environmental advocates. College of the Environment’s integrative approach is designed to train students for creative, fulfilling careers in a changing world. Since its establishment in 1969, College of the Environment has won national and international recognition for undergraduate and graduate programs that are continually refined to enhance practical, collaborative approaches to solving environmental problems.

Students enter College of the Environment with a foundation in science and social science and pursue specialization in their chosen fields with plans of study designed to provide a broad base of knowledge and perspective. Students are also encouraged to design independent programs within the college and to participate in cooperative programs with other university departments. College of the Environment faculty and staff are readily available to collaborate with student initiatives in learning. In addition to classroom work, seniors participate in internships and may serve with faculty and staff on college committees.  Students also complete a capstone class in which students find solutions to very real community problems that may end with a presentation to a city council, port governing board or even representatives from the Washington State Department of Ecology instead of a final exam.

Faculty specialties include oceanography, zoology, engineering, geology, disaster resilience, psychology, coastal geography, population biology, urban planning, environmental justice, indigenous marine ecology, climate change, marine chemistry and many other fields. College of the Environment courses embrace natural and physical sciences, human ecology and ethics, history and resource policy, writing and photography, and others. Our students publish the quarterly award-winning Planet magazine, and routinely receive instruction and mentoring in the use of a variety of new technologies included in the water quality, toxicology and planning labs, and Shannon Point Marine Center.

Most College of the Environment classrooms, offices and laboratories are located in the Environmental Studies building and Arntzen Hall. College of the Environment also houses the Institute of Environmental Toxicology for research on risk assessment and effects of toxic substances; the Institute for Watershed Studies for freshwater and limnological studies; the Resilience Institute for promoting sustainable development and fostering resilient communities; and the College of the Environment Spatial Institute for teaching and research in Geographic Information Science and remote sensing. College of the Environment is also a collaborating partner with the College of Business and Economics and the College of Science and Engineering to support the Institute for Energy Studies, an innovative new program designed to meet the needs of a rapidly expanding green-energy economy and student interest in energy-related fields.

College of the Environment acknowledges with respect …

We acknowledge with respect the Coast Salish territory, including Lummi Nation and Nooksack peoples on whose traditional territory College of the Environment stands.


College of the Environment addresses today’s environmental issues and prepares tomorrow’s interdisciplinary problem solvers. We accomplish this mission by integrating outstanding educational programs, faculty-student collaboration, applied research, and professional and community service.


College of the Environment is a premier institution for the education of future environmental experts and leaders.

Commitment to Equity and Inclusion

College of the Environment is committed to creating and sustaining an accessible, inclusive and supportive community for students. The college values and respects all members of its communities, each of whom individually and collaboratively make a contribution to create, strengthen and enrich our learning environment. 

Academic Programs Leading to Undergraduate and Graduate Degrees

Department of Environmental Sciences

Environmental Science Extension Major BS
Environmental Science — Freshwater & Terrestrial Ecology Emphasis BS
Environmental Science — Marine Science Emphasis BS
Environmental Science — Toxicology Emphasis BS
Environmental Science  BS
Environmental Science, Marine and Estuarine Science (MES) MS
Environmental Science, Thesis MS
Student/Faculty Design BS

Department of Environmental Studies

Business and Sustainability* BA
Economics/Environmental Studies* BA
Environmental Education, Non-Thesis MEd
Environmental Education, Residency, Non-Thesis (In Moratorium) MEd
Environmental Education, Thesis MEd
Environmental Journalism* BA
Environmental Studies — Education & Eco-Social Justice Emphasis BA
Environmental Studies — Geographic Information Science Emphasis BA
Environmental Studies — Geography Emphasis BA
Environmental Studies — Justice & Community Resilience Emphasis BA
Environmental Studies — Policy, Politics, and Governance Emphasis BA
Environmental Studies BA
Environmental Studies MA
Environmental Studies/Elementary* BAE
Environmental Studies (Extension) BA
Environmental Studies (Extension) — Environmental Policy Emphasis BA
Environmental Studies (Extension) — Geographic Information Science Emphasis BA
Geography/Elementary* BAE
Geography/Social Studies  BA
Student/Faculty Design BA

Department of Urban and Environmental Planning and Policy

Urban Planning and Sustainable Development BA
Urban Sustainability BA
*Indicates these degrees are shared with other colleges at Western.  

College Admission and Advisement

Admissions and Declaration of Major

  • Completion of required preparatory course work
  • A brief application accepted in the fall, winter, or spring
  • Academic performance (gpa)
  • Urban Planning portfolio applications are only accepted in the spring (See the Urban Planning major description for separate application instructions)

Applications should be received by the College of the Environment office (ES 539) by:

  • April 18 for admission to summer or fall quarters
  • October 6 for admission winter quarter
  • January 15 for admission spring quarter

Department Chairs

Dr. Ruth Sofield Environmental Sciences
Dr. Rebekah Paci-Green Environmental Studies
Dr. Nabil Kamel Urban and Environmental Planning and Policy

Other College Information

Departments, Courses and Programs

Courses listed in this catalog constitute a record of the total academic program of the University. For an exact scheduling of courses at Western, students should consult the annual online ClassfinderTimetable of Classes and Outreach and Continuing Education  bulletins.