Environmental Studies Major:
13 courses 

161, 162

The additional 9 courses are taken from the following categories.  At least three courses must be ENST courses and at least three must be at the 300-level or above.

Humanities/Arts & Environment – at least 1 Society & Environment – at least 2
Foundations of Environmental Science – at least 1
Applications of Environmental Science – at least 1

Other courses may be taken from the Humanities/Arts & Environment, Society & Environment, Foundations of Environmental Science, Applications of Environmental Science, Environmental Studies Specialization, or Disciplinary Specialization lists.  No more than two Disciplinary Specialization courses can be applied to the degree.

NOTE:  No more than two may be numbered 550 or 560

Environmental Science Major:
16 courses

161, 162

The additional 12 courses are taken from the following categories.  At least three must be ENST courses and at least five of which must be at the 300-level or above.

Humanities/Arts & Environment – at least 1
Society & Environment – at least 1
Foundations of Environmental Science – at least 3
Applications of Environmental Science – at least 5

The other two courses may be taken from the Humanities/Arts & Environment, Society & Environment, Foundations of Environmental Science or Applications of Environmental Science lists

NOTE:  No more than two may be numbered 550 or 560

For both majors, note that a single course may satisfy more than one requirement. However, this does not reduce the total number of courses required for the majors.

Students may not major in both environmental studies and environmental science.

Descriptions of course categories

Humanities, Arts, & Environment courses.  Humanities, Arts, & Environment courses explore humanity’s relation to the earth from perspectives offered by the arts, literature, philosophy, and religion. Such classes may include aesthetic, spiritual, and ethical principles employed to assess natural and social scientific ideas.

Society and Environment Courses.  These courses address the ways human societies are affected by the environment and the ways that human actions alter that same environment. Courses focus on the roles of social, political, economic, and scientific processes in shaping various environmental challenges.

Foundations of Environmental Science.  These courses present students with disciplinary knowledge from the natural sciences foundational to environmental science.  They may or may not consider how this knowledge relates to environmental science and they include courses at introductory through advanced levels.

Applications of Environmental Science.  These courses apply scientific tools and methods to address environmental challenges.  A substantial component of the course must consider interactions between humans and the environment.

Environmental Studies Specializations.  Interdisciplinary courses that study an aspect of human-environment interactions. Normally, courses would include one of the following: four weeks of environmental content or the application of a foundational concept or idea (e.g. inequality, sculpture, development, ethics, etc.) to an environmental issues for at least two weeks.

Disciplinary Specialization courses.  Disciplinary specialization courses provide students the opportunity to place their understanding of environmental studies within the broader context of traditional and emerging academic disciplines. Environmental studies is built upon and connects to most disciplines. In many cases, progress within environmental studies requires drawing on these disciplines and communicating with practitioners in these disciplines. Disciplinary specialization courses are optional. Offering these courses and inviting students to consider including them in their major program is consistent with the liberal arts. 


The distinction of Honors in Environmental Science and Environmental Studies is awarded by the Department to graduating seniors who have met the requisite academic standards. These include completion of a two-credit independent research project under faculty guidance and maintenance of a minimum GPA of 3.4 in all courses required or applied toward the major. The student's final GPA must be certified at the end of the Senior year just prior to graduation.

The honors project must have both oral and written components. The oral components consist of presentations at department seminars, a professional conference and before a faculty review committee consisting of selected Environmental Studies department faculty and the Faculty Research Advisor. The written component may be done with acknowledged assistance from the Faculty Research Advisor and must demonstrate deep understanding of the context and implications of the research.

Detailed guidelines for department honors are available on the department website and through the department chair.


Many majors are interested in an internship or research experience. There are many opportunities for such both on campus and in the Carlisle/Harrisburg community.  Students often complete this requirement during the summer break as well.  

Opportunities for off-campus study

Environmental Studies students are encouraged to participate in the following programs abroad: School for Field Studies, where students can participate in a field-based integrated environmental studies curriculum in one of five locations around the world; the Dickinson Science Program in Norwich, England, where environmental studies and science majors can take courses at an internationally-known environmental science center at the University of East Anglia; the Semester in Environmental Science at the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, Massachusetts, where students can participate in a rigorous field-based program in aquatic sciences; and the Dickinson Program in Queensland, Australia, which offers a wide variety of excellent Environmental Studies and Science courses. Information on many other opportunities for Environmental Studies students is available at the Center for Global Study and Engagement.

Co-curricular activities/programs

The Environmental Studies department has numerous employment, internship, and research opportunities in our two major community outreach co-curricular programs: The Alliance for Aquatic Resource Monitoring (ALLARM) and the College Farm. Detailed information on these programs can be found on the department web site.

Students majoring in Environmental Studies or Environmental Science also often find employment, internship, and research opportunities with the Center for Sustainability Education.


111 Environment, Culture & Values
A study of the effects of scientific, religious, and philosophical values on human attitudes toward the environment and how these attitudes may affect our way of life. By focusing on a particular current topic, and by subjecting the basis of our behavior in regard to that topic to careful criticism, alternative models of behavior are considered together with changes in lifestyle and consciousness that these may involve.
Attributes: Appropriate for First-Year, ES Humanities/Arts/Environ Crs, Humanities, PMGT Ethics Elective, SINE Elective, Sustainability Investigations

121 Introduction to Environmental Science
This introductory environmental science course will explore the integrated, interdisciplinary study of natural environmental systems and human interactions with them. Students will use scientific principles to explore the consequences of human activity. Students will be exposed to basic techniques for investigating environmental topics in lectures, laboratory exercises, and fieldwork. This is an introductory course for non-majors. Students intending to major in Environmental Studies or Environmental Science should enroll in ENST 161.
Three hours classroom and three hours laboratory a week. This course does not count towards the B.A. in Environmental Studies or B.S. in Environmental Science.
Attributes: Lab Sciences, Sustainability Investigations

161 Environmental Connections
This introductory environmental studies course draws from the influences of the humanities and natural sciences on the social sciences in relation to the environment. The course will examine the ideas, concepts, and debates central to the field. Students will examine the relationship between humans and the environment and become familiar with a range of environmental challenges, with an emphasis on how these challenges have emerged over time and space. The course will investigate and evaluate a variety of strategies that are currently being pursued to address these environmental challenges. The course stresses the importance of “seeing connections”, thinking carefully and critically about environmental issues, and appreciating that complex questions rarely have a single solution. This is an introductory course for those majoring in environmental studies and environmental science. Non-majors should enroll in ENST 121 Introduction to Environmental Science.
This course has no laboratory section.
Attributes: Appropriate for First-Year, Sustainability Investigations

162 Integrative Environmental Science
This course is an introduction to interdisciplinary environmental science. Students will learn to draw upon a variety of natural sciences to identify and address environmental challenges. Students will examine environmental issues analytically, learn to evaluate existing data, and begin to develop skills for acquiring new knowledge via the scientific method. They will be exposed to basic techniques for assessing environmental problems in lectures, laboratory exercises, and fieldwork.
Three hours classroom and four hours laboratory a week. Prerequisite: 161
Attributes: Sustainability Investigations

206 American Environmental History
Examines the interaction between humans and the natural environment in the history of North America. Explores the problem of sustainable human uses of the North American environment from the pre-colonial period to the present. Also serves as an introduction to the subfield of environmental history, which integrates evidence from various scientific disciplines with traditional documentary and oral sources. Topics include: American Indian uses of the environment, colonial frontiers, agricultural change, industrialization, urbanization, westward expansion, the Progressive-Era conservation movement, changes in lifestyle and consumption including their increasingly global impact, shifts in environmental policy, and the rise of the post-World War II environmental movement.
This course is cross-listed as HIST 206.
Attributes: AMST Struct & Instit Elective, AMST US History Elective, Appropriate for First-Year, ES Society & Environment Crs, SINE Elective, Social Sciences

215 Jewish Environmental Ethics
Since the 1960's many writers on environmental issues have blamed our contemporary environmental crises in part on a so-called "Judeo-Christian" worldview, rooted in the Hebrew Bible. Such writers assert that the biblical heritage shared by these two religious traditions, advocates an unhealthy relationship between humanity and nature, one in which human beings are destined to conquer the earth and master it. In this course we will explore Jewish perspectives on nature and the natural world through close readings of biblical and other classical Jewish theology, history and ritual practice, we will also examine the ways in which this motif is re-conceptualized in modern secular contexts (ie, Zionism, and the kibbutz movement). We will conclude by studying contemporary varieties of Jewish environmental advocacy. In addition to texts focused specifically on Judeo-Christian traditions, the syllabus will include other classic works of Environmental ethics foundational to the field of Environmental studies.
Offered every three years in rotation with the offering of ENST 111. This course is cross-listed as RELG 215 and JDST 215.
Attributes: ES Humanities/Arts/Environ Crs, Humanities, Judaic Studies Elective, PMGT Ethics Elective, SINE Elective, Service Learning

218 Geographic Information Systems
Geographic Information Systems (GIS) is a powerful technology for managing, analyzing, and visualizing spatial data and geographically-referenced information. It is used in a wide variety of fields including archaeology, agriculture, business, defense and intelligence, education, government, health care, natural resource management, public safety, transportation, and utility management. This course provides a fundamental foundation of theoretical and applied skills in GIS technology that will enable students to investigate and make reasoned decisions regarding spatial issues. Utilizing GIS software applications from Environmental Systems Research Institute (ESRI), students work on a progression of tasks and assignments focused on GIS data collection, manipulation, analysis, output and presentation. The course will culminate in a final, independent project in which the students design and prepare a GIS analysis application of their own choosing.
Three hours of classroom and three hours of laboratory per week. This course is cross-listed as ERSC 218 and ARCH 218.
Attributes: ARCH Area A Elective, ARCH Area B Elective, ES Foundations of Env Sci Crs, Quantitative Reasoning, Sustainability Investigations

252 Interdisciplinary Problem Solving
This course introduces students to the skills and methods of social science and natural science research as used in the field of environmental studies. Students will develop a set of analytical and textual interpretive skills that can be applied to environmental studies problems, regardless of the topic. This training will enhance students’ abilities to engage in close reading and interpretation of interdisciplinary environmental problems and solutions. Students will be introduced to field research methods and group learning techniques, develop the ability to design and analyze information, and communicate new knowledge in a variety of formats. Through lectures, discussions, group projects, presentations, and field and laboratory exercises, students will investigate environmental and societal dynamics, and critically assess ideas, scientific evidence, and popular arguments for possible solutions to current environmental problems. The course content will vary according to expertise of specific instructors.
Four hours laboratory a week. Prerequisite: 161 and 162.
Attributes: Sustainability Connections

280 Environmental and Social Justice
This course reviews social inequalities in relation to environmental issues. We examine the social construction of equity and justice, and apply this learning to understand how societies frame environmental risk. Drawing from domestic and international case studies, we explore how marginalized people and communities disproportionately experience environmental externalities. The social and environmental consequences of uneven development across place exemplify justice and capitalism contradictions. Examples of community agency to re-appropriate or reframe their environment will allow us to understand collective action to counter social and environmental injustices.
This course is cross-listed with SOCI 230.
Attributes: ES Society & Environment Crs, Food Studies Elective, Social Sciences, Sustainability Investigations

310 Special Topics in Environmental Science
An interdisciplinary intermediate-level approach to the study of environmental problems and policy analysis. The course is project-oriented, with students bringing the experience and perspective of their own disciplinary major to bear on a team approach to the analysis and proposed resolution of an environmental problem. Topics vary depending on faculty and student interests, and on the significance of current affairs.
Three hours of classroom and three hours of laboratory a week. Prerequisite: Dependent upon topic or permission of instructor.
Attributes: Sustainability Investigations

311 Special Topics in Environmental Studies
An interdisciplinary course on special environmental studies topics to be offered on the basis of faculty interest, need, and demand. Recent topics have included loss of biodiversity, sustainable agriculture, forests, air pollution, and climate change.
No laboratory. Prerequisite: Dependent upon topic or permission of the instructor.

318 Advanced Applications in GIS
The course is intended as a continuation of the introductory course on Geographic Information Systems, 218, and will concentrate on more advanced discussions and techniques related to spatial analysis and GIS project design. The main focus of the course will be on using higher-level GIS methods to investigate and analyze spatial problems of varying complexity; however, the specific project and topical applications will vary depending on student interests. Students will be required to develop and complete an individual spatial analysis project that incorporates advanced GIS techniques.
Prerequisite: ENST 218 or ERSC 218 or ARCH 218 or equivalent GIS experience. Three hours classroom and three hours laboratory per week. This course is cross-listed as ERSC 318 and ARCH 318. Offered every two years.
Attributes: ES Applications of Env Sci Crs, Sustainability Investigations

330 Environmental Policy
This course examines the effect of environmental policies on environmental quality, human health and/or the use of natural resources at local, national and international levels. It considers the ways scientific knowledge, economic incentives and social values merge to determine how environmental problems and solutions are defined, how risks are assessed and how and why decisions are made. The course examines a range of tools, processes and patterns inherent in public policy responses and covers issues ranging from air and water pollution and toxic and solid waste management to energy use, climate change and biodiversity protection. A combination of lectures, case studies, and field trips will be used.
Prerequisite: 131 and 132 or 130, or permission of instructor.
Attributes: AMST Struct & Instit Elective, ES Society & Environment Crs, Sustainability Investigations, Writing in the Discipline

332 Natural History of Vertebrates w/Lab
An exploration into the lifestyles of vertebrates heavily focused on field biology. Natural history is strongly dependant on descriptive anatomy and systematics and therefore this course will cover the evolutionary relationships among vertebrates highlighting unique features that facilitated the success of the major groups. In field labs, students will develop observational skills such as how to identify a bird by its song, a frog by its call, a mammal by the color of its pelage, and a snake by its shed skin. Indoor labs will focus on identifying species from preserved specimens as well as providing students with the skills necessary to preserve vertebrates for future study. Preservation methods could include preparing museum-quality mammal and bird skins, formalin fixation of fish, and skeletal preparations.
Three hours classroom and three hours laboratory a week. Prerequisite: One 200-level Biology course. For ENST/ENSC majors only, prerequisite is ENST 252. This course is cross-listed as BIOL 332. Offered every two years.
Attributes: ES Applications of Env Sci Crs, Sustainability Connections

335 Analysis and Management of the Aquatic Environment
An interdisciplinary study of the aquatic environment, with a focus on the groundwater and surface waters of the Chesapeake Bay drainage basin. This course provides a scientific introduction to the dynamics of rivers, lakes, wetlands, and estuarine systems as well as an appreciation of the complexity of the political and social issues involved in the sustainable use of these aquatic resources. Students conduct an original, cooperative, field-based research project on a local aquatic system that will involve extensive use of analytical laboratory and field equipment. Extended field trips to sample freshwater and estuarine systems and to observe existing resource management practices are conducted.
Three hours classroom and four hours laboratory a week. Generally offered in the fall in a two-year alternating sequence with 340.
Attributes: ES Applications of Env Sci Crs

361 The Role of Natural Science in Environmental Studies
What can natural science contribute to our understanding of the interactions between humans and our environment? What makes it possible for natural science to provide this understanding? What are the limits on natural science’s capacity to contribute to environmental studies? Answers to these questions come from the humanities, social science, and natural science. From these perspectives, this course will examine natural science as a way of knowing, and explore the application of natural science to environmental challenges. Laboratory activities will provide opportunities for students to work with ideas and processes that are fundamental to natural science, and experience how natural science is applied in environmental studies.
Three hours classroom and three hours laboratory a week. Prerequisite: 252 or any three natural science courses or junior class standing.
Attributes: ES Applications of Env Sci Crs

362 Principles of Natural Science for Environmental Studies
Understanding the interactions between humans and our environment requires integrating a wide range of perspectives. The fundamental principles identified by natural scientists, such as the conservation of matter and evolution via selection, are a key perspective. Knowing the principles of natural science and how to apply them provides for a stronger grasp of many environmental challenges and points to effective responses to these challenges. This course will explore a select, integrated set of principles from natural science that are especially relevant to environmental studies. The principles will be applied to better understand human-environment interactions.
Three hours classroom and four hours laboratory a week. Prerequisite: 252 or any three natural science courses.
Attributes: ES Applications of Env Sci Crs

370 Environment and Society
Society defines how collections of humans are organized around shared bonds including cultures, contexts, or identities. Margaret Mead famously warned, “we won’t have a society if we destroy the environment.” Drawing from social science methods, this class highlights how societies are intimately dependent on natural resources, and how human actions alter the environment. Students will examine how collections of humans experience, use, and change the environment. The class will discuss the social construction and production of the environment, understand structures of power, and learn about social change at the local and national scales.
Attributes: ES Society & Environment Crs, Food Studies Elective, Social Sciences, Sustainability Investigations

371 Global Environmental Politics
Global environmental politics seeks to understand how the global environment is being changed by humanity and how states, organizations, individuals, communities, societies, movements and corporations are responding to planetary environmental issues. In this course, we discuss the causes of global environmental problems and how solutions have been conceptualized and put into practice over the last several decades. We examine trends in global environmental governance, and focus on the role of the sovereign state and global organizations in designing, implementing and enforcing effective international environmental agreements and regimes. We study the growing role in global environmental politics of ‘global civil society’ and multinational corporations. Finally, we consider the major tensions and controversies that characterize global environmental politics such as the impact of economics and trade, sustainable development, and the role of knowledge, power and science. This course engages with a broad range of materials from the global environmental politics literature and endeavors to represent different methodological and conceptual approaches. The course is not organized around environmental ‘issue areas’ but rather focuses on the underlying dynamics of power, authority, interests, legitimacy and ideas that ultimately shape environmental debates. We focus on how theory informs policy making and learn to recognize the constraints and opportunities available for addressing environmental challenges in a changing world. The course will incorporate lectures and seminar discussions as well as possible field trip and guest speakers.
Attributes: ES Society & Environment Crs, INST Globaliz & Sustain Course, Social Sciences, Sustainability Investigations

406 Seminar in Advanced Topics in Environmental Studies
A keystone seminar designed to integrate and apply students' past coursework, internships, and other educational experiences, and to provide a basis for future professional and academic endeavors. The course format varies depending on faculty and student interests, and scholarly concerns in the field. Course components may include developing written and oral presentations, reading and discussing primary literature, and defining and performing individual or group research. Students in this course will be particularly responsible for acquiring and disseminating knowledge. This course is not equivalent to an independent study or independent research course.
Prerequisite: Senior standing or permission of the instructor. Normally offered in Spring semester.
Attributes: Sustainability Connections

The following course is offered during Summer School only.

110 Wild Resource Management
This course will examine the management of natural resources (the manipulation of the environment to achieve human goals) at the state, national, and global levels. The course will examine natural resource management in Pennsylvania by studying the role of the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources as managers of Pennsylvania's 17 million acres of state forest and park land. The course will also examine the nature of wildlife management conducted by the Game Commission and the Fish and Boat Commission. These state management practices and policies will be compared with national and global trends. Other topics will include: soil resources, farming technologies, water resources, and the current political controversy over water and wetlands at the state and federal levels. Other issues pertaining to natural resources will be discussed as appropriate.