Environmental Studies

Many of the most pressing challenges of the 21st Century are environmental ones. We must find ways to feed a growing human population while maintaining the natural life support system provided by the Earth's ecosystems; to make built environments more efficient as urban areas continue to grow dramatically in size; and to meet the challenges posed by rising sea-level and increasing global temperatures. These challenges are complex, multifaceted and can best be solved with expertise from multiple, relevant disciplines. To prepare students to meet these challenges, the Institute at Brown for Environment and Society (IBES) offers two undergraduate degrees: an A.B. in Environmental Studies and a Sc.B. in Environmental Science. The two degrees vary primarily in the number of course requirements; the Sc.B. is a more in-depth treatment of a single field. Both degrees provide interdisciplinary exposure to the natural and social sciences, as well as public policy. Both degrees also develop depth in a primary field by requiring students to select one of four tracks of study. Concentrators might also consider pursuing the Engaged Scholars Program, which allows them to connect theory and practice and gain hands-on experience working with community partners. 

Through a rigorous set of core courses, track requirements, and a course or project-based capstone experience, our students are primed to make meaningful contributions to environmental scholarship and outreach at local, national and global scales.


If you have administrative questions regarding theses concentrations or wish to be added to the email directory listing upcoming events, then please contact Jeanne Loewenstein, the administrative manager.

Standard program in Environmental Studies and Environmental Science:

The Institute at Brown for Environment and Society administers two concentrations, one offering an A.B. degree in Environmental Studies (requires 14-15 courses) and the other a Sc.B. degree in Environmental Science (requires 19-20 courses). Below are a set of course offerings arranged into four tracks:

  1. Air, Climate & Energy
  2. Conservation Science & Policy
  3. Land, Water & Food Security
  4. Sustainability in Development

Requirements for the A.B. in Environmental Studies:

Core Requirements
ECON 0110Principles of Economics 11
ENVS 0490Environmental Science in a Changing World 21
ENVS 0495Introduction to Environmental Social Science1
BIOL 0210Diversity of Life1
or GEOL 0240 Earth: Evolution of a Habitable Planet
Methods - one course1
Methods for Interdisciplinary Environmental Research
Electives - three courses3
You may choose among any ENVS course, any course shown on one or more of the tracks, and any prerequisites listed for a required course.
Capstone - one or two courses1-2
This requirement can be met with a two-semester thesis (ENVS 1970 and ENVS 1971), one or two semester practicum (ENVS 1970 and/or ENVS 1971), one-semester research project (ENVS 1970 or ENVS 1971), or an approved capstone course. Approved capstone courses are project-based senior seminars.
Track Specific Requirements 5
Track 1 - Air, Climate, and Energy
Climate: Select One
Weather and Climate
Principles of Planetary Climate
Physics:
Foundations of Mechanics
Energy Technology: Select One
Renewable Energy Technologies
The Science and Technology of Energy
Policy: Select One
Environmental Law and Policy
Power, Justice, and Climate Change
From Locke to Deep Ecology: Property Rights and Environmental Policy
Engaged Climate Policy at the UN Climate Change Talks
Making Connections: The Environmental Policy Process
Globalization and the Environment
Energy Policy and Politics
Sustainable Infrastructure: Select One
Sustainable Design in the Built Environment
Environmental Stewardship and Resilience in Urban Systems
Track 2 - Conservation Science and Policy
Ecology:
Principles of Ecology
Conservation:
Conservation Biology
Ecology & Conservation Topics: Select One
Coastal Ecology and Conservation
Community Ecology
Terrestrial Biogeochemistry and the Functioning of Ecosystems
Policy: Select One
International Environmental Law and Policy
Environmental Law and Policy
From Locke to Deep Ecology: Property Rights and Environmental Policy
Engaged Climate Policy at the UN Climate Change Talks
Making Connections: The Environmental Policy Process
Energy Policy and Politics
Statistics: Select One
Essential Statistics
Statistical Inference I
Statistical Analysis of Biological Data
Introduction to Econometrics
Track 3 - Land, Water & Food Security
Climate: Select One
Weather and Climate
Principles of Planetary Climate
Biology: Select One
Diversity of Life
BIOL 0190H
Plants, Food, and People
Principles of Ecology
The Evolution of Plant Diversity
Coastal Ecology and Conservation
Environmental History: Select One
From Locke to Deep Ecology: Property Rights and Environmental Policy
Environmental History
The Anthropocene: Climate Change as Social History
Policy: Select One
International Environmental Law and Policy
Environmental Economics and Policy
Environmental Law and Policy
From Locke to Deep Ecology: Property Rights and Environmental Policy
Urban Agriculture: The Importance of Localized Food Systems
Engaged Climate Policy at the UN Climate Change Talks
Making Connections: The Environmental Policy Process
Energy Policy and Politics
Politics of Food
Tools: Select One
Introduction to Geographic Information Systems for Environmental Applications
Global Environmental Remote Sensing
Principles and Methods of Geographic Information Systems
Track 4 - Sustainability in Development
Environment and Development: Select Two
Urban Economics
Health, Hunger and the Household in Developing Countries
Power, Justice, and Climate Change
Urban Agriculture: The Importance of Localized Food Systems
Environmental Stewardship and Resilience in Urban Systems
Globalization and the Environment
Policy: Select Two
International Environmental Law and Policy
Environmental Economics and Policy
Environmental Law and Policy
From Locke to Deep Ecology: Property Rights and Environmental Policy
Engaged Climate Policy at the UN Climate Change Talks
Making Connections: The Environmental Policy Process
Energy Policy and Politics
Analysis Tools: Select One
Introduction to Econometrics 3
Ethnographic Research Methods
Introduction to Qualitative Research Methods
Introduction to Geographic Information Systems for Environmental Applications
Global Environmental Remote Sensing
Introductory Statistics for Social Research
Focus Groups for Market and Social Research
Principles and Methods of Geographic Information Systems
Total Credits14-15
1

Students with AP scores of 4 or 5 in Macroeconomics plus a 4 or 5 in Microeconomics may place out of ECON 0110. Students who place out of ECON 0110 must substitute this course with an additional environmental elective.

2

Concentrators with an AP score of 5 in Environmental Science may waive out of ENVS 0490. Students who place out of ENVS 0490 must substitute an additional environmental elective.

3

 Students pursuing the Sc.B. must take ECON 1620.

Requirements for the Sc.B. in Environmental Science:

Requires ALL 14-15 course requirements as listed in the A.B. Program14-15
Additional Track­ specific requirements for the Sc.B.5
Track 1 - Air, Climate, and Energy
Math: Select Both
Introductory Calculus, Part I 1
Introductory Calculus, Part II 1
Environmental Economics: Select One
Environmental Economics and Policy
Advanced Climate: Select One
Introduction to Atmospheric Dynamics
GEOL 1520 - Ocean Circulation and Climate
Thermal/Chem: Select One
Thermodynamics
Environmental Geochemistry
Track 2 - Conservation Science and Policy
Math: Select One
Introductory Calculus, Part I 1
Evolution: Select One
Evolutionary Biology
Organismal Diversity: Select One
Invertebrate Zoology
The Evolution of Plant Diversity (BIOL 0460 - Insect Biology)
Sophomore Seminar: Insect Biology
Rhode Island Flora: Understanding and Documenting Local Plant Diversity
Comparative Biology of the Vertebrates
Env. Econ: Select One
Environmental Economics and Policy
Tools: Select One
Introduction to Geographic Information Systems for Environmental Applications
Global Environmental Remote Sensing
Principles and Methods of Geographic Information Systems
Track 3 - Land, Water & Food Security
Math: Select One
Introductory Calculus, Part I 1
Chemistry: Select One
Equilibrium, Rate, and Structure
Earth/Life Systems: Select Three
Conservation Biology
Biogeography
Terrestrial Biogeochemistry and the Functioning of Ecosystems
Earth: Evolution of a Habitable Planet
Ocean Biogeochemical Cycles
Global Water Cycle
Environmental Geochemistry
Introduction to Atmospheric Dynamics
Instrumental Analysis with Environmental Applications
Track 4 - Sustainability in Development
Sociology and Politics: Select One
Demographics and Development
Introduction to International Politics
Globalization and the Environment
Critical Perspectives on Development: Select One
Community Engagement with Health and the Environment
Anthropology and Global Social Problems: Environment, Development, and Governance
Sophomore Seminar in Sociology of Development
Economic Perspectives: Select Two
Intermediate Microeconomics
Environmental Issues in Development Economics
Economic Development
Health, Hunger and the Household in Developing Countries
Economic Growth
Climate: Select One
Weather and Climate
Total Credits19-20
1

Students with an AP exam of 4 0r 5 on Calc AB may place out of MATH 0090.  Students with an AP exam score of 4 or 5 on Calc BC may place out of MATH 0090 and MATH 0100.  Students who place out of these courses must substitute an additional environmental elective.

Honors

Candidates for honors must have a minimum GPA of 3.3 in their concentration courses at the end of their 6th semester, and must have completed a successful thesis or practicum proposal. Students may apply during the first month of their 7th semester. Honors will be conferred upon the successful completion of the thesis or practicum.