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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 five 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 academic program 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. Environment & Inequality
  4. Land, Water & Food Security
  5. Sustainability in Development

Requirements for the A.B. Degree

Core Requirements
ECON 0110Principles of Economics 11
or HIST 0150A History of Capitalism
ENVS 0490Environmental Science in a Changing World 21
ENVS 0110Humans, Nature, and the Environment: Addressing Environmental Change in the 21st Century1
BIOL 0210Diversity of Life1
or EEPS 0240 Earth: Evolution of a Habitable Planet
Methods - one course1
Methods for Interdisciplinary Environmental Research
Electives - three courses3
Electives provide increased environmental expertise and further enhance a student’s ability to customize a course of study. Acceptable electives include any ENVS courses, classes with significant environmental content, and prerequisites for classes students take to fulfill requirements within their declared track.
Capstone - one or two courses1-2
This requirement can be met with a two-semester thesis (ENVS 1970 & ENVS 1971), one-semester research project (ENVS 1970 or ENVS 1971), or an approved capstone course.
Track Specific Requirements 5
Track 1 - Air, Climate, and Energy
Foundational courses (choose two):
Equilibrium, Rate, and Structure
Earth Processes
Introduction to Engineering
Fundamentals of Environmental Engineering
Basic Physics A
Foundations of Mechanics
Climate (choose one):
Weather and Climate
Principles of Planetary Climate
The Chemistry of Environmental Pollution
Air Pollution & Chemistry
Policy (choose one):
Reimagining Climate Change
Powering the Past: Environmental Histories of Energy Use and Social Change
Power, Justice, and Climate Change
Making Connections: The Environmental Policy Process
Energy Policy and Politics
POLS 1435
Politics of Climate Change
Geopolitics of Oil and Energy
Energy Technology and Infrastructure (choose one):
Fundamentals of Environmental Engineering
Thermodynamics
Renewable Energy Technologies
Energy and the Environment
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
Hormones and Behavior
Community Ecology
Terrestrial Biogeochemistry and the Functioning of Ecosystems
Conservation in the Genomics Age
Policy: Select One
Reimagining Climate Change
Power, Justice, and Climate Change
Urban Agriculture: The Importance of Localized Food Systems
Engaged Climate Policy in the U.S.: Rhode Island and Washington, DC
Making Connections: The Environmental Policy Process
Globalization and the Environment
Animals and Plants in Chinese History
Energy Policy and Politics
POLS 1435
Politics of Climate Change
Statistics: Select One
Essential Statistics
Statistical Inference I
Statistical Analysis of Biological Data
Statistical Methods
Introduction to Econometrics
Track 3 – Environment and Inequality
Track Intro Course:
ENVS 0705 - Equity and the Environment: Movements, Scholarship, Solutions
Race, Class, and Gender Inequality: Select One
An Introduction to Africana Studies
Afro Latin Americans and Blackness in the Americas
How Structural Racism Works
Race and Inequality in the United States
Introduction to American/Ethnic Studies
Refugees: A Twentieth-Century History
Modern Africa: From Empire to Nation-State
Racial Capitalism and U.S. Liberal Empire
Sex, Gender, and Society
Race, Class, and Ethnicity in the Modern World
Environment and Inequality: Select One
Anthropology and Global Social Problems: Environment, Development, and Governance
Powering the Past: Environmental Histories of Energy Use and Social Change
The Anthropocene: The Past and Present of Environmental Change
From Fire Wielders to Empire Builders: Human Impact on the Global Environment before 1492
From the Columbian Exchange to Climate Change: Modern Global Environmental History
Current Topics in Environmental Health
Tools: Select One
Ethnographic Research Methods
Statistical Inference I
Introduction to Econometrics
Introduction to Environmental GIS
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
Spatial Thinking in Social Science
Policy: Select One
Reimagining Climate Change
Climate Futures and a Sociology of Just Transitions
Power, Justice, and Climate Change
Urban Agriculture: The Importance of Localized Food Systems
Engaged Climate Policy in the U.S.: Rhode Island and Washington, DC
Making Connections: The Environmental Policy Process
International Law
City Politics
Introduction to International Politics
POLS 1435
Politics of Climate Change
Politics of Globalization
Fieldwork in the Urban Community
The Political Foundations of the City
Urban Politics and Urban Public Policy
Track 4 - Land, Water & Food Security
Climate: Select One
Weather and Climate
Principles of Planetary Climate
The Chemistry of Environmental Pollution
Air Pollution & Chemistry
Biology: Select One
Plants, Food, and People
Diversity of Life
Principles of Ecology
The Evolution of Plant Diversity
Inquiry in Plant Biology: Analysis of Plant Growth, Reproduction and Adaptive Responses
Rhode Island Flora: Understanding and Documenting Local Plant Diversity
Environmental History: Select One
Anthropology of Food
Powering the Past: Environmental Histories of Energy Use and Social Change
Birding Communities
The Anthropocene: The Past and Present of Environmental Change
Histories of Global Wetlands
Animals and Plants in Chinese History
Foods and Drugs in History
From Fire Wielders to Empire Builders: Human Impact on the Global Environment before 1492
From the Columbian Exchange to Climate Change: Modern Global Environmental History
Environmental History of East Asia
Animal, Vegetable, Mineral: Environmental Histories of Non-Human Actors
Imperialism and Environmental Change
Policy: Select One
Environmental Economics and Policy
Urban Agriculture: The Importance of Localized Food Systems
Engaged Climate Policy in the U.S.: Rhode Island and Washington, DC
Making Connections: The Environmental Policy Process
Energy Policy and Politics
POLS 1435
Politics of Climate Change
World of Food: Personal to Global Perspectives on Nutrition, Agriculture and Policy
Tools: Select One
Statistical Inference I
Introduction to Geographic Information Systems for Environmental Applications
Global Environmental Remote Sensing
Introduction to Environmental GIS
Principles and Methods of Geographic Information Systems
Track 5 - Sustainability in Development
Environment and Development: Select Two
Anthropology and Global Social Problems: Environment, Development, and Governance
Economic Development
Health, Hunger and the Household in Developing Countries
Climate Futures and a Sociology of Just Transitions
Power, Justice, and Climate Change
Environmental Stewardship and Resilience in Urban Systems
Globalization and the Environment
Economic Development and Social Change
Policy: Select Two
Environmental Economics and Policy
Urban Agriculture: The Importance of Localized Food Systems
Engaged Climate Policy in the U.S.: Rhode Island and Washington, DC
Making Connections: The Environmental Policy Process
Energy Policy and Politics
POLS 1435
Politics of Climate Change
Geopolitics of Oil and Energy
Tools: Select One
Ethnographic Research Methods
Statistical Inference I
Introduction to Econometrics
Introduction to Geographic Information Systems for Environmental Applications
Global Environmental Remote Sensing
Introduction to Environmental GIS
Introductory Statistics for Social Research
Focus Groups for Market and Social Research
Principles and Methods of Geographic Information Systems
Total Credits14-15

Requirements for the Sc.B. Degree

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:
Introductory Calculus, Part I 1
Policy (choose one):
Economics of Global Warming
Environmental Economics and Policy
Power, Justice, and Climate Change
Engaged Climate Policy in the U.S.: Rhode Island and Washington, DC
Making Connections: The Environmental Policy Process
Globalization and the Environment
Energy Policy and Politics
Infrastructure!
POLS 1435
Politics of Climate Change
Geopolitics of Oil and Energy
Tools (choose one):
Methods of Applied Mathematics II
Essential Statistics
Statistical Inference I
Introduction to Econometrics
Introduction to Geographic Information Systems for Environmental Applications
Global Environmental Remote Sensing
Introduction to Environmental GIS
Climate and Thermal Change (choose two):
Geochemistry: Earth and Planetary Materials and Processes
Paleoceanography
Environmental Geochemistry
Introduction to Atmospheric Dynamics
Thermodynamics
Ocean Circulation and Climate
Thermodynamics
Heat and Mass Transfer
Industrial Design
The Chemistry of Environmental Pollution
Air Pollution & Chemistry
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)
Inquiry in Plant Biology: Analysis of Plant Growth, Reproduction and Adaptive Responses
Rhode Island Flora: Understanding and Documenting Local Plant Diversity
Comparative Biology of the Vertebrates
Env. Econ: Select One
Economics of Global Warming
Environmental Economics and Policy
Environmental Issues in Development Economics
Tools: Select One
Introduction to Geographic Information Systems for Environmental Applications
Global Environmental Remote Sensing
Introduction to Environmental GIS
Principles and Methods of Geographic Information Systems
Spatial Thinking in Social Science
Track 3 – Environment and Inequality
Tools: Select One
Ethnographic Research Methods
Introduction to Econometrics
Introduction to Geographic Information Systems for Environmental Applications
Global Environmental Remote Sensing
Introduction to Environmental GIS
Introductory Statistics for Social Research
Focus Groups for Market and Social Research
Principles and Methods of Geographic Information Systems
Spatial Thinking in Social Science
Race, Class and Gender Inequality: Select One
Race and Inequality in the United States
History and Resistance in Representations of Native Peoples
Race, Class, and Ethnicity in the Modern World
SELECT A FOCUS AREA (pick three courses from only one focus area)
FOCUS ONE - Environmental Inequality in Globalization and Development: Select Three
Anthropology and Global Social Problems: Environment, Development, and Governance
Environmental Issues in Development Economics
Economic Development
Health, Hunger and the Household in Developing Countries
Power, Justice, and Climate Change
Animals and Plants in Chinese History
Refugees: A Twentieth-Century History
Global Burden of Disease
Security, Governance and Development in Africa
Politics of Globalization
Economic Development and Social Change
FOCUS TWO - Environmental Health and Inequality: Select Three
Health Inequality in Historical Perspective
International Health: Anthropological Perspectives
Environmental Health and Disease
Medicine and Public Health in Africa
Introduction to Public Health
Global Burden of Disease
World of Food: Personal to Global Perspectives on Nutrition, Agriculture and Policy
Current Topics in Environmental Health
Climate Change and Human Health
Social Determinants of Health
FOCUS THREE - Environmental Inequalities in Food, Water, and Energy: Select Three
Powering the Past: Environmental Histories of Energy Use and Social Change
Power, Justice, and Climate Change
Urban Agriculture: The Importance of Localized Food Systems
Environmental Stewardship and Resilience in Urban Systems
Histories of Global Wetlands
Energy Policy and Politics
Treaty Rights and Food Fights: Eating Local in Indian Country
Track 4 - 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
Terrestrial Biogeochemistry and the Functioning of Ecosystems
Earth: Evolution of a Habitable Planet
EEPS 0830
Water In Our World
Paleoceanography
Ocean Biogeochemical Cycles
Global Water Cycle
Environmental Geochemistry
Introduction to Atmospheric Dynamics
Water Supply and Treatment Systems - Technology and Sustainability
Track 5 - Sustainability in Development
Sociology and Politics: Select One
Climate Futures and a Sociology of Just Transitions
Globalization and the Environment
Introduction to International Politics
Economic Development and Social Change
Critical Perspectives on Development: Select One
Anthropology and Global Social Problems: Environment, Development, and Governance
Race and Inequality in the United States
Infrastructure!
Reimagining Capitalism
Economic Development and Social Change
Globalization and Social Conflict
Economic Perspectives: Select Two
Intermediate Microeconomics
Economics of Global Warming
Environmental Issues in Development Economics
Economic Development
Health, Hunger and the Household in Developing Countries
Economic Growth
Environmental Economics and Policy
Economics for Public Policy
Climate: Select One
Weather and Climate
Air Pollution & Chemistry
Total Credits19-20

Honors

Students interested in graduating with honors in their concentration must complete a thesis determined to be of the highest quality and must have excelled in their coursework required for the concentration, which is defined here as receiving a grade of "A" in the majority of courses taken to fulfill the concentration. You can learn more by visiting the honors page on the IBES website.