environmental studies

Raft down the Grand Canyon. Shape environmental legislation. Climb the slopes of Mount Rainier. Collect algae in the Puget Sound. Survey the giant forests of the Pacific Northwest.

Students visit Yellowstone National Park for the program Environmental Analysis to study the unique geological and microbiotic conditions in the park.

Getting out in the field is easy when you have the field right outside the classroom. Students in environmental studies benefit from Evergreen’s natural learning labs: our 1,000-acre rain forest, open shoreline, and organic farm. Our location in Washington’s capital city makes getting involved in environmental politics easy. Students live and learn where policies are created. The surrounding community’s high level of environmental consciousness and the Pacific Northwest’s cultural and natural heritage form an unparalleled backdrop to your studies.

Environmental studies offers introductory and advanced work in a wide array of laboratory and field studies that incorporate social sciences, environmental justice, biology, geology, chemistry, climatology, evolution, ecology, hydrology, and oceanography. You can also work independently with support through independent contracts, internships, and research. You’ll have the opportunity to work along with faculty in real-world research, publish papers, attend conferences, and develop new techniques to answer novel questions. The mixture of an interdisciplinary approach and hands-on research allows you to make a transformative impact.

Join us in an education that doesn’t just change your life — it gives you the tools to change the world.

Ken Tabbutt talks about the geological structure of the cliffs in Yellowstone as Andy Brabban and Clyde Barlow hold a geological map. Due to Evergreen’s emphasis on interdisciplinary learning, you’ll experience many programs taught by multiple faculty.

Sample Program

Forests and Farms: The Systems that Sustain Us

Offered Fall 2018–Winter 2019

The Pacific Northwest’s cultural and natural heritage form an unparalleled backdrop to your studies.

Learn to get your hands dirty in two globally important types of landscapes: forests and farms. We will split our focus between an introduction to forests and forest measurements in the Pacific Northwest and an introduction to agricultural systems and ecological agriculture. 

You will learn to do forest measurements, inventory carbon sequestration, understand ecological succession, and identify common trees. You'll gain hands-on experience working with our local trees in Evergreen's forest reserve.

You'll also learn the structure and function of annual and perennial crop plants. Ecological agroforestry systems will be emphasized to show how perennial crops can be used to optimize carbon uptake, efficiently use inputs, conserve soil, and maintain food production. 

View this program in the catalog.

Students in Restoration Ecology and Freshwater Ecology take a field trip to the Elwha River to study the effects of the Elwha Dam and how nature is recovering after its removal.

After Graduation

Earning your degree with an emphasis in environmental studies prepares you for graduate studies and careers in the field. Our graduates are leaders in ecology, environmental health, natural resource management, conservation, forestry, wildlife biology, politics, economics, and global sustainability movements.

You also have the option of continuing your studies with our Master of Environmental Studies.

Facilities & Resources

Christopher Sabine, director of the Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), talks about the global carbon cycle, climate change, and ocean acidification.

The Organic Farm

Students of all levels have access to science labs with a full range of equipment and high-tech tools.

At the Organic Farm you can explore sustainable agriculture, agro-ecology, and environmental sciences. In addition to three acres of certified organic fields, the farm’s facilities include a food-grade laboratory, the student-designed and -built Organic Farmhouse, and the student-run Demeter’s permaculture demonstration site and Community Gardens.

The Evergreen State College Forest & Campus Shoreline

Evergreen’s 1,000-acre forest is ideal for studying a lowland Puget Sound second-growth rainforest. Through the Evergreen Ecological Observation Network (EEON), students and faculty conduct long-term scientific research. The college’s 3,300-foot shoreline offers a variety of ecosystems and natural features for students to investigate.

Students do a titrations lab in the program Environmental Analysis.

Labs, Gardens, & Collections

Students of all levels have access to science labs with a full range of equipment and high-tech tools. You can study some 27,000 specimens in the college’s zoological, botanical, and mycological collections. Evergreen’s campus is also dotted with a variety of teaching gardens.

Sustainability in Prisons Project

The Sustainability in Prisons Project trains inmates and correctional staff at local prisons to carry out ecological research and conservation projects.

The program Picturing Plants went on a field trip to Mima Mounds Glacial Heritage Preserve to identify and draw native prairie plants.

Rachel Carson Forum

Students in Evergreen’s Master of Environmental Studies program organize this annual event. Experts speak on environmental topics such as local sustainability and climate change.

Sustainability House

The Sustainability House is a living/learning option for returning and transfer students. Residents commit to an environmentally conscious lifestyle, social justice, sustainable agriculture and activism.

How to Choose Your Path

You’ll choose what you study to earn a Bachelor’s degree that’s meaningful to you. Some students decide their programs as they go, while others chart their course in advance.

Aim for both breadth and depth; explore fields that may be related or that may seem very distant. You'll be surprised at what you discover.

If you're new to college, look for programs where you can gain a foundation, build key skills, and broaden your knowledge (FR only, FR-SO, or FR-SR).

If you already have a foundation in this field, look for programs with intermediate or advanced material (SO-SR, JR-SR, or FR-SR). These programs may include community-based learning and in-depth research. Some of these programs have specific prerequisites; check the description for details.

Talk to an academic advisor to get help figuring out what coursework is best for you.

Planned offerings for 2019–20
Class Standing Quarters Offered Credits
Analyzing Permaculture Systems FR-SR
  • Fall
  • Winter
16
Botany SO-SR
  • Fall
16
Catastrophe: Community Resilience in the Face of Disaster FR-SR
  • Winter
16
Climate Justice JR-SR
  • Spring
16
Cycle Makers and Cycle Breakers: Transitional Studies JR-SR
  • Fall
  • Winter
  • Spring
16
Deserts JR-SR
  • Winter
16
Forests JR-SR
  • Fall
16
From the Ground Up: Writing Natural History SO-SR
  • Winter
  • Spring
8
Highway 101 Revisited: History, Literature, Music, and Ecology SO-SR
  • Fall
  • Winter
  • Spring
16
Introduction to Environmental Studies FR-SR
  • Fall
  • Winter
16
Introduction to Environmental Studies: Water FR-SO
  • Fall
16
Marketing with GIS FR-SR
  • Spring
16
Outdoor Leadership and Group Dynamics SO-SR
  • Spring
16
Permaculture Design FR-SR
  • Spring
16
Picturing Plants JR-SR
  • Spring
16
Plant Chemical Ecology: The Secret Life of Plants JR-SR
  • Winter
16
Plants and People SO-SR
  • Winter
16
Practice of Organic Farming: Culture and Agriculture (Fall) FR-SR
  • Fall
16
Practice of Organic Farming: Entrepreneurial Culture and Agriculture FR-SR
  • Spring
16
Social Science Approaches to Solving Environmental Problems JR-SR
  • Spring
16
South Asia: Climate Change and Society SO-SR
  • Fall
  • Winter
16
Student-Originated Studies: Food and Agriculture SO-SR
  • Winter
16
Team Entrepreneurship and Sustainable Energy Changemaker Lab SO-SR
  • Fall
16
Written in Stone: Art and Geology FR-SO
  • Spring
16
Planned offerings for 2020–21
Class Standing Quarters Offered Credits
Earth Art: Rock and Metal FR-SO
  • Spring
16
Environmental Analysis SO-SR
  • Fall
  • Winter
  • Spring
16
Field Plant Taxonomy and Biodiversity Conservation JR-SR
  • Spring
16
Food, Health, and Sustainability SO-SR
  • Fall
  • Winter
  • Spring
16
General Biology: Cells, Populations, and Ecosystems SO-SR
  • Fall
16
Geology and Ecology of Land-Ocean Margins FR-SO
  • Spring
16
Geology and Mathematics FR-SO
  • Fall
  • Winter
16
Introduction to Environmental Studies: Water FR-SR
  • Fall
  • Winter
8, 16
Marine Biodiversity JR-SR
  • Winter
  • Spring
14, 16
Politics of Identity, Scale, and Nature SO-SR
  • Spring
16
Practice of Organic Farming: Culture and Agriculture (Fall) FR-SR
  • Fall
16
Shaped by the Sea, Shaped by the Hand: Marine Biology and 3D Art FR-SO
  • Fall
  • Winter
16
Student-Originated Studies: Prairie Conservation JR-SR
  • Spring
16
Sustainability Accounting: Can Accountants Make the Planet Safer? SO-SR
  • Spring
16
Urban Planning, Property Rights, and Land Stewardship SO-SR
  • Fall
  • Winter
16