Academics

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The academic component of the COE comprises the Environmental Studies Linked Major and the Environmental Studies minor. The Linked Major was established in 2009 and the minor was established in 2020 (replacing the Certificate in Environmental Studies, established in 1998). Both of these options are open to students from all majors. Currently, students enrolled in these programs major in more than 20 different departments or programs, and our 25+ faculty members belong to more than 15 departments or programs. This diversity reflects the deep and widespread interest in environmental issues on the Wesleyan campus.

Environmental Studies Linked Major

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Environmental studies is a multidisciplinary, integrative study of a broad range of environmental issues. Environmental science (such as climatology or conservation biology) is one aspect, but environmental studies also brings together the spectrum of foci that are necessary to solve, evaluate, comprehend, and communicate environmental issues. Thus, environmental studies includes sciences, economics, government, policy, history, humanities, art, film, ethics, philosophy, and writing.

For students to engage in contemporary environmental issues, they must obtain expertise in the area of their major and gain broader perspectives in environmental studies through a set of introductory and elective courses that increase the breadth of their understanding to complement their specialty. The aim of the program is to graduate students who have both a specialty and breadth of perspective so that they can interpret environmental information, understand the linkages to social, political, or ethical issues, and formulate well-reasoned opinions.

The linked-major program in environmental studies (ENVS) is the secondary major to a primary major. Students cannot obtain the BA degree with ENVS as their only major. Students must complete all the requirements for graduation from their primary major in addition to those of ENVS as their linked major. Each student will work closely with an ENVS advisor to develop an individual course of study. ENVS requires an introductory course, the sophomore seminar, six elective courses, the senior colloquium, and a senior capstone project (thesis, essay, performance, etc.) on an environmental topic. In addition, students must take one course in any subject that fulfills Wesleyan’s essential capability in writing.

One of the following introductory courses serves as the gateway to the ENVS linked-major program:

The following requirements are necessary to complete the ENVS linked major:

  • An introductory course (ENVS197 or E&ES199) or a 4 or 5 on the Environmental Science AP Exam
  • Sophomore Seminar ENVS201
  • Three core electives, one from each of the three areas below
  • Three additional electives, whether or not in the core list
  • Two semesters of the senior colloquium: ENVS391 and ENVS392
  • A senior capstone project course
  • With the exception of BIOL197/E&ES197/ENVS197 or E&ES199, all other courses must be at the 200 level or higher
  • Courses that may count toward the six electives are ENVS courses at the 200 level or higher, plus other courses listed here. Two courses that are either student forums or research tutorials may be substituted for non-core electives
  • One course in any subject that fulfills Wesleyan's essential capability in writing

A total of six elective courses are required; two must be at the upper level of academic study (usually 300 level or higher), and one elective must come from each of the three following core areas:

CORE ELECTIVES AREA 1

ENVS307 The Economy of Nature and Nations 1
PHIL212 Introduction to Ethics 1
PHIL215 Humans, Animals, and Nature 1
PHIL270 Environmental Philosophy 1
PHIL287 Philosophy of Science 1

CORE ELECTIVES AREA 2

ECON210 Climate Change Economics and Policy 1
ECON212 The Economics of Sustainable Development, Vulnerability, and Resilience 1
ENVS285 Environmental Law and Policy 1
ENVS325 Healthy Places: Practice, Policy, and Population Health 1
GOVT206 Public Policy 1
GOVT221 Environmental Policy 1
GOVT322 Global Environmental Politics 1

CORE ELECTIVES AREA 3

BIOL216 Ecology 1
BIOL220 Conservation Biology 1
BIOL226 Invasive Species: Biology, Policy, and Management 1
ENVS260 Global Change and Infectious Disease 1
ENVS340 The Forest Ecosystem 1
ENVS344 Renewable Energy and Negative Emission Technologies 1
ENVS361 Living in a Polluted World 1
E&ES234 Geobiology 1
E&ES250 Environmental Geochemistry 1
E&ES260 Oceans and Climate 1

Students will choose an additional three electives with their ENVS advisor. These electives may be selected from the entire list, in addition to those courses listed in core elective areas 1–3 above. 

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION ON MAJOR REQUIREMENTS

  • With the exception of the introductory courses, 100-level courses do not count toward the major.
  • Up to three courses from the primary major may be counted toward the ENVS linked major.
  • Students may substitute two reading or research tutorials, or one tutorial and one student forum, for two electives with approval of the ENVS advisor. 
  • Up to three credits from study-abroad programs may be used for non-core elective courses, with prior approval of the ENVS advisor and as long as the credits from abroad are accepted by Wesleyan.
  • One course in the student’s entire curriculum must satisfy the essential capability for writing.
  • With the approval of the advisor and a written petition by the student, certain internships (e.g., Sierra Club, state agency, EPA, NOAA) may be substituted for one non-core elective.

Environmental Studies Minor

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The Environmental Studies minor enables students to explore the Wesleyan curriculum and achieve a first-level understanding of environmental issues. 

The minor is granted for a minimum of seven credits:

  • Either a 4 or 5 on the Environmental Science AP Exam or one of the following introductory courses: BIOL197 BIOL197/E&ES197 E&ES197/ENVS197 ENVS197 or E&ES199 E&ES199 

  • Plus six elective courses related to the environment as follows:
    • Three must come from one department
    • The courses must come from three departments or programs
    • The courses must come from two divisions
    • One course must be at the 300 level or higher
    • Courses that may count toward the six electives are ENVS courses at the 200 level or higher, plus other courses listed here.

Comparison between ENVS linked-major program and ENVS minor

The ENVS linked-major program requires a substantial amount of immersion and focused concentration in environmental studies compared to the minor. The purpose of the minor is to provide limited exposure and basic level of expertise in environmental studies. Many students use the minor as a demonstration for employers in environmental fields that they have had a basic immersion. The following table lists the features of the linked major and the minor. 

Linked Major
Minor
Introductory Course 1 1
Distribution of Electives Minimally 3 divisions, 3 departments Minimally 2 divisions, 3 departments
Number of Electives 7 6
Core Courses Required 3 0
# upper-level courses required 2 1
Number of Courses from Primary Major allowed 3 Not restricted
Senior Capstone Project required none
Senior Colloquium required none