Environmental Studies

The Environmental Studies (ES) planning unit offers broadly interdisciplinary academic studies within and across three distinctive thematic areas, Human Communities and the Environment, Natural History and Environmental Sciences. Programs emphasize interdisciplinary, experiential study and research primarily in the Pacific Northwest with additional work in other areas of the North and South America. Research methods and analysis emphasize field observation, quantitative and qualitative methods, and Geographic Information Systems. In any year, ES programs explore many of the topics listed here:

  • Human Communities and the Environment—Addresses environmental policy, ethics and human relations with, and ways of thinking about, the natural world. It includes community studies, ecological agriculture, environmental communication and education, environmental economics, environmental history, environmental policy, geography, land-use planning and policy, and political economy.
  • Natural History—Focuses on observation, identification and interpretation of flora and fauna using scientific field methods as a primary approach to learning how the natural world works. It includes botany, ecology, ichthyology, herpetology, invertebrate zoology, mammalogy, mycology, ornithology, and exploration of issues in biodiversity.
  • Environmental Sciences—Investigates primarily with the study of the underlying mechanisms and structures of natural systems, both living and nonliving. They include biogeochemistry, biology, chemistry, climatology, ecology, evolutionary biology, geology, hydrology, environmental analysis, marine biology, oceanography, and issues of global climate change.

In freshmen-only and lower-division programs in Environmental Studies students can expect to gain knowledge and skills in writing, the scientific method, quantitative methods, making connections between disciplines, the use of drawing and diagramming to support both communication and learning and basic lab or fieldwork skills. They will also gain a solid background in the core concepts of biology, ecology and social science. In upper-division programs students will have the opportunity to delve deeper into topics in the thematic areas listed above - natural history, environmental science and the interaction of human communities and the environment. Enrollment in upper-division programs may depend on having basic prerequisites; carefully read the catalog and talk to faculty to ensure that you are prepared for the program. The Advanced Research in Environmental Studies program provides additional opportunities to participate in primary research with Evergreen faculty.

Environmental studies faculty offer both new and repeating programs. Repeating programs are regularly offered, typically every other year or every third year. These programs include Ecological Agriculture, Practice of Sustainable Agriculture, Animal Behavior, Vertebrate Evolution, Marine Life, Plant Ecology and Taxonomy, Temperate Rainforests and Field Ecology.

In order to capture the diversity of organisms, habitats and social systems found around the world, Environmental Studies faculty regularly offer programs with a study abroad component, particularly to Central and South America. These programs offer the opportunity to observe organisms and environmental processes that you learned about in the classroom, interact with researchers at biological field stations and do field-based research in some of the most biologically rich areas in the world.

The Evergreen State College offers a Master of Environmental Studies (MES) degree that integrates the study of the biological, physical, and social sciences. Faculty who teach MES electives, which are taught in the evenings, may allow advanced undergraduates to enroll with permission. For information on admissions requirements and procedures, please visit the MES website.