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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 13-14 courses) and the other a Sc.B. degree in Environmental Science (requires 18-19 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
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
The College expects that a capstone will be completed in semesters 7 or 8 - with the intention of providing an opportunity for students to integrate many aspects of their course of study, or area of focus. 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
Understanding Earth and Environmental Processes
Introduction to Engineering
Introduction to Engineering: Design
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
Economics of Global Warming
Environmental Economics and Policy
Power, Justice, and Climate Change
Climate Policy Research: Organizations and Obstruction
Making Connections: The Environmental Policy Process
Ocean Governance and Policy
Energy Policy and Politics
Politics and Nature
Politics of Climate Change
Geopolitics of Oil and Energy
Eco-Democracy
Energy Technology and Infrastructure (choose one):
Fundamentals of Environmental Engineering
Thermodynamics
Groundwater Flow and Transport
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
The Ecology and Evolution of Infectious Disease
Hormones and Behavior
Community Ecology
Terrestrial Biogeochemistry and the Functioning of Ecosystems
Conservation in the Genomics Age
Life Under Water in the Anthropocene
Policy: Select One
Reimagining Climate Change
Political Ecology
Power, Justice, and Climate Change
Local Food Systems and Urban Agriculture
Climate Policy Research: Organizations and Obstruction
Making Connections: The Environmental Policy Process
Ocean Governance and Policy
Animals and Plants in Chinese History
Energy Policy and Politics
Politics and Nature
Politics of Climate Change
Eco-Democracy
Statistics: Select One
Essential Statistics
Statistical Inference I
Statistical Analysis of Biological Data
Statistical Methods
Introduction to Econometrics
Introductory Statistics for Social Research
Track 3 – Environment and Inequality
Track Intro Course:
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
Health Inequality in Historical Perspective
Archaeology of Settler Colonialism
Indians, Colonists, and Africans in New England
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
Power, Knowledge and Justice in Global Social Change
Environment and Inequality: Select One
Political Ecology
Clearing the Air: Environmental Studies of Pollution
Science and Power: The Corruption of Environmental Health
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
Public Health and the Environment
Current Topics in Environmental Health
An Environmental Sociology for a Rapidly Warming World
Tools: Select One
Ethnographic Research Methods
Statistical Inference I
Introduction to Econometrics
Introduction to Geographic Information Systems for Environmental Applications
Global Environmental Remote Sensing
Narrating the Anthropocene
Methods of Social Research
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
Environmental Economics and Policy
Power, Justice, and Climate Change
Local Food Systems and Urban Agriculture
Climate Policy Research: Organizations and Obstruction
Making Connections: The Environmental Policy Process
Ocean Governance and Policy
Energy Policy and Politics
Politics and Nature
Politics of Climate Change
Geopolitics of Oil and Energy
Eco-Democracy
Track 4 - Land, Water & Food Security
Climate: Select One
Water in Our World
Weather and Climate
Principles of Planetary Climate
Ocean, Cryosphere, and Sea Level Change
Groundwater Flow and Transport
The Chemistry of Environmental Pollution
Clearing the Air: Environmental Studies of Pollution
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
Terrestrial Biogeochemistry and the Functioning of Ecosystems
Environmental History: Select One
Birding Communities
Animals and Plants in Chinese 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
The Arctic: Global History from the Dog Sled to the Oil Rig
Amazonia from the Prehuman to the Present
Environmental History of East Asia
Imperialism and Environmental Change
Earth Histories: From Creation to Countdown
Power + Water: Material Culture and its Environmental Impact
Policy: Select One
Political Ecology
Environmental Economics and Policy
Local Food Systems and Urban Agriculture
Climate Policy Research: Organizations and Obstruction
Making Connections: The Environmental Policy Process
Ocean Governance and Policy
Energy Policy and Politics
World of Food: Personal to Global Perspectives on Nutrition, Agriculture and Policy
Politics and Nature
Politics of Climate Change
Eco-Democracy
Tools: Select One
Statistical Inference I
Introduction to Geographic Information Systems for Environmental Applications
Global Environmental Remote Sensing
Narrating the Anthropocene
Principles and Methods of Geographic Information Systems
Track 5 - Sustainability in Development
Environment and Development: Select One
Political Ecology
Clearing the Air: Environmental Studies of Pollution
Power, Justice, and Climate Change
Environmental Stewardship and Resilience in Urban Systems
Power + Water: Material Culture and its Environmental Impact
Power, Knowledge and Justice in Global Social Change
Policy: Select Two
Environmental Economics and Policy
Local Food Systems and Urban Agriculture
Climate Policy Research: Organizations and Obstruction
Making Connections: The Environmental Policy Process
Ocean Governance and Policy
Energy Policy and Politics
Politics and Nature
Reimagining Capitalism
Politics of Climate Change
Geopolitics of Oil and Energy
Eco-Democracy
Tools: Select One
Ethnographic Research Methods
Statistical Inference I
Introduction to Econometrics
Introduction to Geographic Information Systems for Environmental Applications
Global Environmental Remote Sensing
Narrating the Anthropocene
Methods of Social Research
Introductory Statistics for Social Research
Focus Groups for Market and Social Research
Principles and Methods of Geographic Information Systems
Critical Perspectives: Select One
Race and Inequality in the United States
Health, Hunger and the Household in Developing Countries
Equity and the Environment: Movements, Scholarship, Solutions
Critical Study of Development
Reimagining Capitalism
Economic Development and Social Change
An Environmental Sociology for a Rapidly Warming World
World Population Problems
Power, Knowledge and Justice in Global Social Change
Total Credits13-14

Requirements for the Sc.B. Degree

Requires ALL 13-14 course requirements as listed in the A.B. Program13-14
Additional Track­ specific requirements for the Sc.B.5
Track 1 - Air, Climate, and Energy
Math:
Single Variable Calculus, Part I 1
Policy (choose one):
Reimagining Climate Change
Economics of Global Warming
Environmental Economics and Policy
Power, Justice, and Climate Change
Climate Policy Research: Organizations and Obstruction
Making Connections: The Environmental Policy Process
Ocean Governance and Policy
Energy Policy and Politics
Politics and Nature
Politics of Climate Change
Geopolitics of Oil and Energy
Eco-Democracy
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
Narrating the Anthropocene
Introductory Statistics for Social Research
Climate and Thermal Change (choose two):
Terrestrial Biogeochemistry and the Functioning of Ecosystems
Geochemistry: Earth and Planetary Materials and Processes
Descriptive Coastal and Estuarine Oceanography
Paleoceanography
Environmental Geochemistry
Introduction to Atmospheric Dynamics
Ocean Circulation and Climate
Ocean, Cryosphere, and Sea Level Change
Thermodynamics
Principles of Heat Transfer
Industrial Design
The Chemistry of Environmental Pollution
Clearing the Air: Environmental Studies of Pollution
Track 2 - Conservation Science and Policy
Math: Select One
Single Variable Calculus, Part I 1
Evolution: Select One
Evolutionary Biology
Conservation in the Genomics Age
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
Evolutionary Behavioral Ecology
Rhode Island Flora: Understanding and Documenting Local Plant Diversity
Env. Econ: Select One
Economics of Global Warming
Environmental Issues in Development Economics
Environmental Economics and Policy
Tools: Select One
Introduction to Geographic Information Systems for Environmental Applications
Global Environmental Remote Sensing
Narrating the Anthropocene
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
Narrating the Anthropocene
Methods of Social Research
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
Public Health Issues in LGBT Populations
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
Environmental Issues in Development Economics
Health, Hunger and the Household in Developing Countries
Political Ecology
Power, Justice, and Climate Change
Animals and Plants in Chinese History
Refugees: A Twentieth-Century History
Amazonia from the Prehuman to the Present
Geography of Uneven Development
From Growth to the Green Transition
Global Burden of Disease
Security, Governance and Development in Africa
Geopolitics of Oil and Energy
Economic Development and Social Change
FOCUS TWO - Environmental Health and Inequality: Select Three
Health Inequality in Historical Perspective
Global Health: Anthropological Perspectives
Environmental Health and Disease
Science and Power: The Corruption of Environmental Health
Introduction to Public Health
Public Health Policy
Public Health and the Environment
Global Burden of Disease
World of Food: Personal to Global Perspectives on Nutrition, Agriculture and Policy
Race, Racism and Health
Current Topics in Environmental Health
Climate Change and Human Health
Social Determinants of Health
Public Health Issues in LGBT Populations
FOCUS THREE - Environmental Inequalities in Food, Water, and Energy: Select Three
Water in Our World
Power, Justice, and Climate Change
Local Food Systems and Urban Agriculture
Environmental Stewardship and Resilience in Urban Systems
Ocean Governance and Policy
Histories of Global Wetlands
Energy Policy and Politics
Power + Water: Material Culture and its Environmental Impact
Track 4 - Land, Water & Food Security
Math: Select One
Single Variable 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
Water in Our World
Descriptive Coastal and Estuarine Oceanography
Paleoceanography
Ocean Biogeochemical Cycles
Limnology: The Study of Lakes
Global Water Cycle
Environmental Geochemistry
Introduction to Atmospheric Dynamics
Ocean, Cryosphere, and Sea Level Change
Water Supply and Treatment Systems - Technology and Sustainability
Track 5 - Sustainability in Development
Critical Perspectives: Select One
Race and Inequality in the United States
Health, Hunger and the Household in Developing Countries
Equity and the Environment: Movements, Scholarship, Solutions
Critical Study of Development
Reimagining Capitalism
Economic Development and Social Change
An Environmental Sociology for a Rapidly Warming World
World Population Problems
Power, Knowledge and Justice in Global Social Change
Env. & Development: Select One
Political Ecology
Clearing the Air: Environmental Studies of Pollution
Power, Justice, and Climate Change
Environmental Stewardship and Resilience in Urban Systems
Power + Water: Material Culture and its Environmental Impact
Anthropocene with Many Accents: Environmentalizing the Afro-Luso-Brazilian Triangle
Power, Knowledge and Justice in Global Social Change
Economic Perspectives: Select Two
Intermediate Microeconomics
Economics of Global Warming
Environmental Issues in Development Economics
Urban Economics
Economic Development
Health, Hunger and the Household in Developing Countries
Economic Growth
Environmental Economics and Policy
Economics for Public Policy
Climate: Select One
Water in Our World
Weather and Climate
Descriptive Coastal and Estuarine Oceanography
Environmental Geochemistry
Introduction to Atmospheric Dynamics
Clearing the Air: Environmental Studies of Pollution
Total Credits18-19

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.