Jul 13, 2024  
2024-25 Western Washington University Catalog 
    
2024-25 Western Washington University Catalog

Environmental Studies, BA

Location(s): WWU - Bellingham


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Department of Environmental Studies, College of the Environment

81-88 credits

Introduction

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?

Do you want to use your knowledge and skills to promote positive change in the environment? Do you want to understand the interactions and interdependencies between human and natural systems? Do you want an interdisciplinary education that reflects the complexity of society’s environmental challenges? Do you want to learn to communicate and integrate knowledge across areas of environmental expertise? Then Environmental Studies is the major for you.

 Contact Information

Department Chair
Rebekah Paci-Green
Arntzen Hall 206
360-650-2707
Rebekah.Paci-Green@wwu.edu

College of the Environment 
Professional Advisor

Kathryn Patrick
Environmental Studies 539
360-650-3520
Kathryn.Patrick@wwu.edu

 Sample Careers

Environmental Communications | Environmental Analyst | Environmental Advocate | Government Agency Employee | Sustainability Officer | Water Resource Manager | Park Ranger | Forest Service Employee | Educator

 Major/Career Resources

careercenter.wwu.edu/connectmajorcareer

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

Students should apply for this major after registering for or completing ENVS 201, ENVS 203, and ENVS 204. Taking ENVS 302 is also encouraged before applying to this major.

Applications are competitive. Priority is given to students who have completed all three 200-level courses with a C- or better. Students who are currently enrolled in one or more of these courses, but who have not completed all three, will be considered as space allows. 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:

  • REQUIRED: Which specific Environmental Studies degree are you selecting?
  • REQUIRED: What relevant coursework have you completed?
  • REQUIRED: What excites you about majoring in Environmental Studies?
  • REQUIRED: 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.

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 Studies foundation and core requirements


Environmental Studies Foundations (28 credits)


MATH 112 or suitable math placement score is necessary for some foundations courses, but higher-level math courses are recommended. Students are strongly encouraged to take chemistry, biology, and MATH 114 as part of their GUR courses to access upper-division Environmental Science courses.

Environmental Studies Core Knowledge Areas (25-32 credits)


Important Note: Courses taken in any of the five Core Knowledge Areas cannot be used to also satisfy depth and specialization requirements. This requirement ensures you take courses that provide you with a broad range of perspectives, skills, and content areas. When planning your course of study, consider taking courses in the Core Knowledge Areas that you will not later need for your depth and specialization.

Core Knowledge Area 1: Environmental Data Analysis and Communication (6-9 credits)


Core Knowledge Area 2: The Biophysical Environment (8-10 credits)


Culminating Experiences (8 credits)


Take any combination of the courses listed below to obtain the required 8 credits. If students take courses in this Culminating Courses category, the same courses may not be counted in other categories in this major.

Depth and Specialization


Students completing Environmental Studies degrees must choose a pre-defined emphasis, complete the courses for a pre-approved minor from outside of the Department of Environmental Studies, or collaborate with a faculty adviser to develop a student-faculty designed plan of study. All depth and specialization pathways must include at least 20 credits of additional coursework beyond the courses used to fulfill requirements in other areas of the Environmental Studies major. See Environmental Studies programs of study for more emphasis options.

Minor or Self-Designed Emphasis (20 credits)


Option 1


Complete the courses required for a minor from outside of the Environmental Studies Department that is relevant to your major. When a minor can be completed with less than 20 credits, students may need to take additional related courses to reach 20 credits. Credits used to meet this depth and specialization requirement cannot also be used to meet other major requirements.

Option 2


Choose 20 credits of additional elective coursework from 300- and 400-level courses in the College of the Environment. These courses can be found under the ENVS, ESCI, and UEPP prefix. Courses outside the College of the Environment may count towards elective coursework, with prior faculty approval. Credits used to meet this depth and specialization requirement cannot also be used to meet other major requirements.

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