Department of Environmental Studies, College of the Environment
Environmental Studies takes an interdisciplinary and holistic approach to understanding human-environment systems and environmental challenges. The Environmental Studies major includes core classes in the natural sciences, social sciences, and humanities to prepare our students to integrate knowledge from multiple fields of study. Our students learn to analyze and interpret complex environmental data and communicate environmental information for diverse stakeholders. The Environmental Studies major equips students to succeed as environmental professionals through experiential learning and advanced coursework in each student’s choice of an emphasis.
Why Consider an Environmental Studies Major with a Geography Emphasis?
Geography is the science of place and space. Geographers ask where things are located on the surface of the Earth, why they are located where they are, how places differ from one another, and how people interact with the natural environment. Natural and human systems vary over space and many environmental issues are therefore inherently spatial. Environmental Geography links together the social sciences and natural sciences, studying the relationships between human activity and natural systems. We draw on knowledge from many different fields of study to give us the big picture view of how and why cultural and natural landscapes vary over space. We make extensive use of maps, complex spatial datasets, and technology to aid our understanding of the world.
As an environmental geographer, you can make a difference working in the fields of geospatial analysis, teaching, planning, natural resource management, conservation and restoration, and more. Graduates with this emphasis have assumed positions in State and National Parks, the Forest Service, college and universities, non-profit organizations, and the private sector. If you are interested in teaching Geography in public schools, see the Geography/Social Studies, BA or B.A.Ed. Geography/Elementary Education information sheet.
Do you wonder about how human and natural environments vary across the world? Are you curious about how the interactions and interdependencies between human and natural systems? Do you love maps? Are you comfortable with spatial problem solving? If so, then Environmental Studies with a Geography Emphasis is the major for you! Come join us as we work together to understand our world!
Cartographer | GIS Analyst | Tourism Industry Professional | Water Resource Manager | Park Ranger | Restoration and Conservation Analyst | Forest Service Employee | Educator
How to Declare (Admission and Declaration Process):
How to Apply as a Pre-Major
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.
Students are strongly advised to apply in the fall (for winter quarter admission) and spring quarters (for summer or fall quarter admission). Students who do so will be able to immediately begin 300 level Environmental Studies Foundation courses, which are pre-requisites for most other 300 and 400 level courses. Students who apply in the winter (for spring quarter admission) will not be able to take the 300-level Environmental Studies Foundation courses until fall.
If you have any questions, please contact a professional advisor at the College of the Environment Student Support office in Environmental Studies Building 539, or by calling 360-650-3520.
A grade of C- or better is required for a student’s major or minor courses, and supporting courses for majors and minors.