Dec 01, 2023  
2022-2023 Catalog 
2022-2023 Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Environmental Studies, MA

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Department of Environmental Studies, College of the Environment

Graduate Faculty

Abel, Troy D., PhD, environmental policy, policy analysis, environmental justice, climate change governance, and natural resource governance.  
Bach, Andrew J., PhD, physical geography, geomorphology, soils development, landscape change.
Berardi, Gigi, PhD, agroecology and sustainable agriculture, food security, resilient food systems and international business sustainability, all-hazards planning.
Buckley, Patrick H., PhD, economic and development geography, modeling the Hawaiian economy to explore issues of social justice, quality of life, transborder environmental issues. 
Darby, Kate J., PhD, Social and environmental justice, environmental justice pedagogy in higher education, food systems.
Flower, Aquila, PhD, biogeography, climatology, forest ecology, long-term environmental change, dendrochronology, and GIS.
Hollenhorst, Steven, PhD, social dimensions of natural resources, wilderness and protected area policy and management.
Kamel, Nabil, PhD., social and environmental justice, post-disaster recovery, political economy of urbanization, sustainable development, critical urban theory, housing and poverty, physical planning, urban design, regional and international development.
Laninga, Tamara (Tammi), PhD, federal land use policy and planning, collaborative planning, community economic development, and the social components of bioenergy development.
Medler, Michael J., PhD, biogeography, GIS, remote sensing, forest fire and wilderness management.
Melious, Jean O., JD, environmental and land use law and policy, international environmental policy.
Myers, O. Eugene, PhD, environmental education, conservation psychology, human ecology, environmental history and ethics.
Neff, Mark W., PhD, science, democracy and decision making; science, technology, and society; anticipatory governance of science and technology; sustainability.
Paci-Green, Rebekah, PhD, natural hazards risk, social vulnerability, resilience, risk perception, disaster risk reduction, comprehensive school safety, disaster management policy.
Rossiter, David A., PhD, historical geography, settler colonialism, outdoor recreation, Canada/BC.
Stanger, Nicholas R., PhD, environmental education and exploration of the emotional, ecological, educational, indigenous, and complexity systems.
Stangl, Paul A., PhD, pedestrian planning, new urbanism, urban landscapes, memory and meaning; Europe and Berlin.
Trautman, Laurie D., PhD, human geography, transboundary resource management, energy transport, borderlands, Canada-U.S. relations, international trade
Wang, Grace A., PhD, natural resource policy, sustainability, community-based forestry, and cultural resources management.
Zaferatos, Nicholas C., PhD, community and environmental planning, sustainable development, European environmental policy, Native American political development.
Wang, Xi, PhD, energy governance and policy, energy geography, climate change governance and policy, political economy, industrial organization and labor, industrial infrastructure, community solutions to climate change.

All College of the Environment faculty can serve on Environmental Studies master’s project or thesis committees, even serving as committee chair.


The MA degree in Environmental Studies prepares students to address complex environmental problems using a highly interdisciplinary approach and significant student-faculty design of the course of study. Students gain proficiency in critical analysis, development, conservation, and management frameworks of environmental studies for careers in business, government, planning, consulting, teaching, and research.

Program specializations

Environmental Policy

Emphasizes environmental policy and especially the ecological, economic, political, and social factors that affect environmental governance processes.

Faculty advisors include Troy D. Abel, Kate Darby, Steve HollenhorstJean Melious, Mark Neff, Rebekah Paci-Green, and Grace Wang.


Focuses on the science of place and space and links the social and natural sciences together, studying the relationships between human activity and natural systems.

Faculty advisors include Andy Bach, Gigi Berardi, Patrick Buckley, Aquila Flower, Michael Medler, and David Rossiter.

Urban Planning and Sustainable Development

Concentrates studies in processes of urban planning and decision making with a combination of sustainable design, law, and policy.

Faculty advisors include Nabil Kamel, Steve HollenhorstTammi Laninga, James MillerJean Melious, Rebekah Paci-Green, Paul Stangl, and Nicholas Zaferatos.

Energy Policy

Emphasizes coursework in energy system transitions, stakeholder engagement, advanced energy policy, and environmental politics/policy.

Faculty advisors include Steve HollenhorstTammi Laninga, Imran Sheikh, Charles Barnhart, and Joel Swisher.

General Environmental Studies

Coursework will be developed in conjunction with your specific faculty advisor.

Faculty advisors can be any Graduate Faculty of the Environmental Studies Master’s program. 

Application Information

Deadline: Students generally will be admitted into the MA in Environmental Studies fall quarter only. The Graduate Program Committee will begin reviewing application materials until the enrollment limit is reached or on June 1, whichever comes first. Because maximum student enrollment is limited, all applicants are strongly encouraged to submit application materials by February 1.

TA Deadline: To be considered for a graduate teaching assistantship, applicants must submit their application materials by February 1.

Specific Test Requirements: Graduate Record Exam, General Test is not required to apply, but if submitted will be considered as part of a whole person review.

Supporting Materials: An application for admission into the MA program in Environmental Studies must include a one- to two-page statement of purpose addressing the following questions:

  1. Which specialization (Environmental Policy, Geography/GIS, Urban Planning and Sustainable Development, Energy Policy, or General Environmental Studies) are you  interested in pursuing and why? How has your prior experience prepared you to work in that area?
  2. Why do you wish to pursue a graduate degree in Environmental Studies at the College of the Environment?
  3. What coursework are you interested in taking (See University Catalog) towards your specialization?
  4. What is your research topic idea (thesis or project) and who are potential faculty advisors?


Students with a 4-year degree in Environmental Studies or related fields, who meet the requirements of the Graduate School and who show evidence of superior scholarship, are encouraged to apply.

Thesis/Field Project

The thesis option requires satisfactory completion of a research project emphasizing original theoretical or applied research and resulting in a comprehensive written thesis, grounded in the appropriate literature. The candidate will provide a public seminar based on the thesis as part of an oral defense and acceptance of the thesis by the candidate’s thesis committee.

The scale and scope of work for the field project option will be commensurate with the scale and scope of work for the thesis option. The field project option requires satisfactory completion of an applied project emphasizing a tangible product or outcome, along with a comprehensive written report on the project. The report should be written individually by the candidate and be commensurate with the depth and length of a thesis. Each candidate will also provide an individual public seminar based on the project as part of an oral defense and acceptance of the project by the candidate’s project committee.

Committee Makeup

The thesis committee will have three members.  A minimum of two graduate faculty members will be from the College of the Environment; one will serve as chair. The third member, with approval of the graduate advisor and Graduate School, can come from elsewhere on campus or another university or can be a professional in the field. Your committee should  be formed by the third quarter of residency (Thesis Topic Approval esign form).

The field project committee will have a minimum of two members from the College of the Environment Graduate Faculty; one will serve as chair. An additional member, with approval of the graduate advisor, can come from elsewhere on campus or, another university, or can be a professional in the field. Your committee should be formed by the third quarter of residency (Field Project Approval esign form).

Students  should meet monthly with the committee chair to report progress on their thesis/project, and with the entire committee as needed. Failure to make satisfactory progress on the thesis/project over an extended time period may result in the student’s termination from the program.

Thesis/Field Project Proposal Presentation

The student is to make a public presentation of the proposed thesis/field project, followed by questions and discussion. The purpose of this presentation is to allow the student to share the proposed thesis/field project with a broader audience than the committee to facilitate further refinement of the work. The presentation will be made as soon as the student and the committee have agreed upon a topic, typically in the third quarter of residency. Major changes to the thesis/project topic will require a new presentation at the discretion of the thesis committee.

Program Requirements (minimum 45 credits)

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