Jul 14, 2024  
2023-2024 Catalog 
2023-2024 Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Environmental Studies

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Students, faculty, and staff in the Department of Environmental Studies approach environmental understanding and problem solving through diverse programs that examine interacting social and natural systems. By putting the social sciences, natural sciences, humanities, and environmental professions into direct dialogue, the department’s curriculum is designed to help students make the intellectual connections and gain the practical skills necessary for building socially just and environmentally sustainable futures.

The department’s interdisciplinary undergraduate degree includes emphasis options in Education and Eco-Social Justice; Geographic Information Science; Geography; Justice and Community Resilience; or Policy, Politics, and Governance. The department also offers joint programs with the College of Business and Economics, Woodring College of Education, and the College of Humanities and Social Sciences. A range of minors, including Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR), Environmental Education, Environmental Justice, Environmental Policy, Environmental Studies, Geographic Information Science (GIS), Geography, and Geographic Information Certificate are also available. These programs direct students to specific environmental career paths or provide an excellent background for advanced study in education, law, natural resource management, public administration, and other fields. The department also offers advanced study through graduate degrees in Environmental Education and Environmental Studies.


The faculty’s work in this department is tied together by a shared commitment to ongoing interdisciplinary exchange. Faculty are trained in anthropology, education, engineering, geography, history, natural resources management, political science, psychology, and related fields. Active research programs keep faculty at the forefront of these fields as they intersect with environmental studies. Department academic programs also draw upon the expertise of colleagues in other units of the University, such as the departments of economics, journalism, environmental science, urban and environmental planning and policy, and political science.

The Department of Environmental Studies acknowledges with respect …

We acknowledge with respect the Coast Salish territory, including Lummi Nation and Nooksack peoples on whose traditional territory the Environmental Studies department stands.

Department Resources

Department facilities support applied student learning in the 38-computer spatial analysis lab with a complete suite of state-of-the-art GIS, cartography, and remote sensing software, GPS receivers, and extensive local data sets. Facilities also include the environmental education lab. Experiential learning is emphasized in many of our programs, taking students into the field, from the local to the international, where they apply their skills and knowledge to current problems. Student work has received recognition from state, national, and international organizations for exceptional problem-solving solutions and for their analysis using geographic information science.

How to Declare (Admission and Declaration Process)

At any time, you can declare yourself as a pre-major with interest in environmental studies by contacting a College of the Environment professional advisor. To become a pre-major, set up an appointment with a professional adviser on our Undergrad Academic Advising website cenv.wwu.edu/academic-advising, by visiting the College of the Environment Student Support office in Environmental Studies Building 539, or by calling 360-650-3520.

Students are encouraged to apply to be an Environmental Studies pre-major as early as they can, ideally during their freshman or sophomore year. You do not need to complete any Environmental Studies courses before applying as a pre-major.

What happens when students become pre-majors?

Pre-major status will give you access to priority registration for Environmental Studies classes. Once you are declared as a pre-major you are assigned a College of the Environment professional advisor and a faculty advisor based on your academic interests. Your professional advisor can help you understand graduation requirements and how to navigate through your degree curriculum. Your faculty advisor can help you decide which courses to take and give you advice about how to prepare for graduate school or a future career. As a pre-major, your email is added to an email distribution list for College of the Environment majors so you will begin to receive notifications and general announcements. 

How to Apply to the Majors:

After completing the 200-level ENVS Foundations courses and selecting a depth and specialization area, students can apply to move from pre-major status to major status. ENVS 201, ENVS 203, and ENVS 204 must be completed with a C- or better before applying to this major. ENVS 302 is also encouraged before applying to this major. Transfer students coming in with a Direct Transfer Agreement may apply before completing ENVS 201, ENVS 203, and ENVS 204. 

Applicants should strongly consider also taking MATH 114, CHEM 161, and either BIOL 204 or BIOL 101 as GURs; doing so will allow enrollment in a broader range of upper division science courses.

To apply, students should submit an application that includes brief answers (three to four well-formed paragraphs) to the following questions:

  • Which specific Environmental Studies degree are you selecting?
  • What relevant coursework have you completed?
  • What excites you about majoring in Environmental Studies?
  • How will the specific Environmental Studies degree you have chosen help you achieve your post-graduation career goals?
  • OPTIONAL: Are there perspectives or experiences you can bring to strengthen and diversify the field of environmental studies?
  • OPTIONAL: Do you feel that your academic transcript accurately reflects your abilities as a student? Please explain.

The application can be found on the College of the Environment website at cenv.wwu.edu/undergraduate-applications-college-environment. Applications are accepted during fall, winter, and spring quarters and must be received by 5 p.m. on October 6 (for winter quarter admission), January 15 (for spring quarter admission), or April 18 (for summer or fall quarter admission). If the deadline falls on a weekend, applications are due the following Monday.


REBEKAH PACI-GREEN (2007) Chair and Associate Professor, BS (civil and environmental engineering), University of Washington; PhD (civil engineering, minors in cultural anthropology and science & technology studies), Cornell University.
ANDREW J. BACH (1995) Professor. BS, MA (geography), University of California-Davis; PhD (geography), Arizona State University.
PATRICK H. BUCKLEY (1987) Professor. BS (civil engineering and geology), University of Notre Dame; MA (economic geography and South Asian studies), University of Washington; PhD (economic geography), Boston University.
KATE J. DARBY (2010) Associate Professor. BS, Pennsylvania State University (chemical engineering); MS, University of Oregon (certificate: Not-for-Profit Management); PhD, Arizona State University (environment, technology and society).
AQUILA FLOWER (2013) Associate Professor. BA (geography), Humboldt State University; MS (geography), University of Victoria; PhD (geography), University of Oregon.
NINI HAYES (2015) Associate Professor. BA (outdoor education and interpretation), Western Washington University; M.I.T (elementary education k-8); Ed.S. (social justice education); Ed.D. (teacher education and school improvement).
MICHAEL J. MEDLER (2002) Professor. BS (philosophy), MS (environmental studies), University of Oregon; PhD (geography), University of Arizona.
O. EUGENE MYERS (1995) Professor. BS (human ecology), Western Washington University; MA, PhD (psychology and human development), University of Chicago.
MARK NEFF (2009) Associate Professor. BA (German Literature and Language), MS (Environmental Studies), University of Oregon; PhD (Life Sciences and Consortium for Science, Policy and Outcomes), Arizona State University.
DAVID A. ROSSITER (2005) Professor. BA (Honors), University of British Columbia; MA (geography); PhD, (geography) York University.
NICK STANGER (2014) Associate Professor. BS Honors (Comparison of Temperate Old-Growth Forest Epiphyte Communities), MA (Youth and Environmental Art), Royal Roads University; PhD (Replacing Ourselves in Nature), University of Victoria.
XI WANG (2021) Assistant Professor. BA (English Literature), Cornell University; MS (Environmental Studies), University of Colorado; PhD (Geography), University of Colorado.

Emeritus Faculty

JOHN C. MILES Professor Emeritus of College of the Environment. BA, MA, University of Oregon; PhD, The Union Institute.
DEBNATH MOOKHERJEE Professor Emeritus of Geography. BSc, MSc, University of Calcutta; PhD, University of Washington.
LYNN A. ROBBINS Professor Emeritus of Environmental Studies. BA, University of Utah; MA, PhD, University of Oregon.
BRADLEY F. SMITH Professor Emeritus of College of the Environment. BA, MA, Western Michigan University; PhD, University of Michigan.
THOMAS A. TERICH Professor Emeritus of Geography. BA and MA, California State University, Los Angeles; PhD, Oregon State University.
HERBERT H. WEBBER Professor Emeritus of Geography and Environmental Social Sciences. BSc, PhD, University of British Columbia.

Adjunct Faculty

JAMES D. ALLAWAY, PhD (natural resources, policy, and planning), Cornell University.
DAN NESSLY, University of Idaho. MS (environmental studies) Western Washington University.
SETH VIDANA, Climate and Energy Manager, Bellingham, WA. MEd (environmental education), Western Washington University.
ELIN KELSEY, Royal Roads University. PhD (international environmental policy and science communication), King’s College London.

Affiliated Faculty

NATALIE BALOY Assistant Director, Canada House Programs
JOHN BOWER Professor, Fairhaven College
DOLORES CALDERON Associate Professor, Fairhaven
CRAIG DUNN Professor, Management, College of Business and Economics
CLAYTON PIERCE Associate Professor, Fairhaven
DEBRA J. SALAZAR Professor, Department of Political Science
JENNIFER SELTZ Associate Professor, History
MART STEWART Professor, History
JOHN TUXILL Associate Professor, Fairhaven College
VERONICA VELEZ Associate Professor, Secondary Education, Woodring College of Education
CAMERON WHITELY Assistant Professor, Sociology

Affiliated Teaching Faculty

ZANDER ALBERTSON, (Instructor), MS (environmental studies), Western Washington University.
TAMI BARRY, (Instructor), MA (environmental philosophy), PhD (environmental science), University of North Texas.
STEFAN FREELAN, (Instructor), MS (geography), Western Washington University.
TYSON WALDO, (Senior Instructor), MS (geography), Western Washington University.

Graduate Study

For concentrations leading to the Master of Arts or the Master of Education degrees, see the Graduate School  section of this catalog.


    Undergraduate MajorUndergraduate Combined MajorUndergraduate ExtensionUndergraduate MinorGraduateCertification


      Environmental Studies

      Courses numbered X37; X97; 300, 400, 500 are described in the University Academic Policies  section of this catalog.

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