Apr 16, 2024  
2023-24 Western Washington University Catalog 
2023-24 Western Washington University Catalog

Environmental Policy, BA

Location(s): WWU - Bellingham

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Department of Urban and Environmental Planning and Policy, College of the Environment

58-63 credits


Graduates with an environmental policy major will have completed coursework that studies the intersection of humans and resource/environmental use. Students also learn the intricacies of policies toward environmental/resource sustainability, and how the policies impact individuals and communities.  

Why Consider an Environmental Policy major?

Do you want to make a difference in protecting the environment and the public good, as well as diversify access to resources for everyone? WWU’s College of the Environment’s BA degree in Environmental Policy focuses on the policies and practices that make that happen. The program focuses on resource sustainability and environmental resilience, while at the same time querying positionalities and cultural-economic lenses around resource access in diverse populations and landscapes. Over 200 students have received this BA degree, many of whom have attained professional careers in policy management, program implementation, and action planning for positive environmental change.

The program focuses on problem solving and implementing shared visions to effect laws and policies that monitor and manage environmental climate change.  Such laws and policies protect diverse, culturally appropriate, health-driven, economically viable landscapes - in the United States and throughout the world.  We are proud to offer this degree to our students and to continue our program’s strong-community partnerships worldwide, in which students apply their learning to assist communities in organizing for sustainable futures.

About the Program

This major supports students in exploring how stakeholders attempt to regulate pollution (for the long-term) natural resources, protect natural spaces, and counter environmental disturbances. It emphasizes an interdisciplinary approach to solving urban problems that face communities. Students can choose from the following emphases: Climate/Energy, Land Use, or Food Security.

With sustainability and climate change on the forefront of humanity’s greatest social and ethical problem, students studying environmental policy will acquire knowledge on “how” government works, and how to be most effect in solving global isses.  

The program prepares students with the knowledge and skills needed to make positive changes towards a socially and environmentally just world. Graduates are prepared for professional careers in policy agencies, consulting firms, and nonprofit organizations at the local, state, and federal levels of government, as well as for advanced graduate study.

 Contact Information

Department Chair
Nabil Kamel
Arntzen Hall 230

College of the Environment
Professional Advisor

Kathryn Patrick
Environmental Studies 539

 Sample Careers

Sustainable Development Consultant | Natural Resources Manager | Non-Profit Organizations | Environmental attorneys (the policy program providing preparation) | city administrators | resource managers, and often go on to work in environmental agencies at the federal, tribal, state, and local levels. Graduates also work in the non-profit sector, or go on to graduate studies in public administration, policy, or related fields.

 Major/Career Resources


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 policy in the College of the Environment advising office, ES 539. There are several advantages to declaring as a pre-major during your freshman or sophomore year. Once you are declared as a pre-major you are assigned a 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 the curriculum. Your faculty advisor guides you in which courses to take, and when, and gives you advice about internships and how to prepare for graduate school or a future career. As a pre-major, your email is added to an email distribution list for CENV majors so you will begin to receive notifications and general announcements. The pre-major status will also give you access to priority registration for some classes.

How to Apply to the Major:

Before applying, students should complete Environmental Policy Foundation courses: ECON 206 or ECON 207; ESCI 225; MATH 240; PLSC 250; UEPP 261. Instructions and forms to declare the major in environmental policy can be found at Declaring a Major in Environmental Policy, Department of Urban and Environmental Planning. Students are welcome to contact the department for assistance.

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.

If you have any questions, please contact a professional advisor at the CENV Student Support Office in Environmental Studies Building 539, or by phone 360-650-3520.  

Grade Requirements

A grade of C- or better is required for a student’s major or minor courses, and supporting courses for majors and minors.


Environmental Policy Experiential Courses (minimum 5 credits)

❑ Choose any combination from the list below to complete at least 5 credits.

Environmental Policy Emphases (10-13 Credits)

Choose one emphasis from the three listed below; or with faculty advisor approval of a minimum 10 credits of any combination of courses as electives that form a cohesive specialization.

Food Security Emphasis (13 credits)

❑ Complete all the courses listed below to fulfill the requirements for the Food Security Emphasis.

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