The complexities of environmental problems dictate that study of the environment be based in multiple disciplines to provide students with skill sets and knowledge bases in the following areas: scientific principles as applied to the environment, the political, economic, social and cultural dimensions of environmental problems, the historical and ethical context for environmental problems and policy, and literary and artistic explorations of the environment.

Students who major in Environmental Studies can gain a broad grounding in all of these areas, which is intended to help them understand the complex environmental issues faced by societies around the world. 

The Environmental Studies major prepares students for meaningful involvement in a wide array of environmental and governmental organizations, as well as for graduate study in many environmental fields, law, public policy, and other areas of inquiry. 

  • Students interested in graduate study in the environmental sciences will have to take additional science courses.  Please consult with the natural science faculty to find out what courses you should take.

The ENTS Profile and Focus Areas:

The major is designed to help students make connections across key knowledge bases, which traditionally have been pursued largely in disciplinary isolation. In order to facilitate making these connections, every ENTS major will complete an ENTS profile, a personal website that will:

  • Clarify your specific focus within the major, your learning goals, your further professional goals
  • Help you integrate the learning you’ve done within the program and make connections with what you’ve learned from extracurricular, work and life experience
  • Help the faculty understand how the curriculum is working for you

You will be asked to develop a focus within the major. Our curriculum supports these foci, but you may develop your own focus in consultation with your advisor:

  • Food and Agriculture: This focus explores such topics as American agricultural policy, food security, the effects of climate change on agriculture, and food ethics. Relevant science courses include agroecology, plant biology, ecology, and geology of soils and hydrology.
  • Conservation and Development: This focus covers conservation biology, issues of economic development, management of natural resources and preservation of natural wonders. The chief scientific foundations for this focus are ecology and climate change.
  • Landscape and Perceptions: This focus allows students to explore the complex meanings of the landscape. In addition to the ecology and geology courses that help them interpret the natural forces shaping the landscape, students may examine religious, ethical, historical, and aesthetic values embedded in the landscape.
  • Water Resources: The focus appears narrow—it examines the management of water resources, building primarily on courses in geology and economics. But the topic is of central importance to virtually all environmental policy areas. Students interested in this track are advised to take Water and Western Economic Development as well as hydrology and geomorphology.
  • Environmental Justice: This focus concerns the intersection of social justice issues with environmental policy. Students may explore how environmental policy affects minority groups and indigenous peoples, the global north and global south, and issues of justice toward non-humans.
  • Energy and Climate: This focus explores the intersection of climate change and energy policy. Students are advised to take introductory Physics courses and explore energy- and climate-related courses in Physics and Chemistry.

The program will create a website and share it with you. You will be an editor on the site. The completed site will be available for the Carleton community to view. A complete site must be submitted for evaluation in the Fall term ENTS 395 course. More information about the ENTS profile will be available at the spring new majors meeting and through your advisor.