BA in Environmental Studies

The Bachelor of Arts in Environmental Studies is a multidisciplinary, science-based degree program that focuses on interactions between people and both the natural and built environments. Housed in the Department of Geography, the program explores sustainability issues through the social sciences, humanities and physical and life sciences.

Through the major, students develop strong interdisciplinary skills, and the research and writing skills to work across disciplines and convey information to diverse sets of stakeholders. This broad training prepares Environmental Studies students to consider complex environmental challenges—and their social components—like climate change; extinction and habitat loss; and equity and urban sustainability. All Environmental Studies students take courses in field research methods, GIS, and a capstone class that provides students with applied research and policy analysis experiences and an accompanying portfolio. 

After graduation, many Environmental Studies majors fill vital roles in translating science to the public, or incorporating science in policy or planning practice. Our alumni often go on to graduate school in fields such as law, urban planning, environmental policy, and various environmental sciences. They also find a tremendous variety of career paths. For instance, our alumni work in such varied roles as a physical scientist at the US EPA; a communications specialist at the Environmental Defense Fund; a bid supplier for a renewable energy company; a multimedia production specialist with Washington Area Community Investment Fund; a GIS analysis for a local environmental non-profit organization; and as a program analyst with the General Services Administration.

"I try to take advantage of the opportunities at GW — take classes, go to forums and attend different D.C. green scene events. Knowledge is power — especially when it comes to the environment."

Berkley Lane
BA '20

 Program Benefits

  • Professional expertise in environmental management and policy, writing environmental impact assessments, managing critical resources and practicing working as planners
  • Opportunities to engage with nature and the built environment in and around Washington, D.C.
  • Off-campus field courses in geography and geology
  • Internship and research opportunities with the National Parks Service, National Geographic and the Environmental Protection Agency
  • Option to combine degrees with a major or minor in geography or a minor in geographic information systems
  • Access to the Center for Urban and Environmental Research (CUER), which provides opportunities for faculty and students to engage in research and urban development activities

Undergraduate Advisors

Environmental Studies Last Name A-L: Melissa Keeley

Environmental Studies Last Name M-Z: Moses Kansanga

Course Requirements

The following requirements must be fulfilled:

The general requirements stated under Columbian College of Arts and Sciences, Undergraduate Programs.

Program-specific curriculum:

Foundational courses
BISC 1006The Ecology and Evolution of Organisms
or BISC 1112 Introductory Biology: The Biology of Organisms
GEOG 1002Introduction to Physical Geography
GEOG 1003Society and Environment
GEOG 2104Introduction to Cartography and GIS
STAT 1053Introduction to Statistics in Social Science
or STAT 1051 Introduction to Business and Economic Statistics
or STAT 1111 Business and Economic Statistics I
or STAT 1127 Statistics for the Biological Sciences
Requirements for the major
GEOG 2196Field Methods in Geography (or equivalent)
ENVR 4195Environmental Studies Capstone *
Three of the following science courses:
ANTH 3407Conservation in a Changing World: Human and Animal Behavior
BISC 2010Global Change Biology
BISC 2401Biodiversity in A Changing World
BISC 2452Animal Behavior
BISC 2454General Ecology
BISC 3454Marine Ecology
BISC 3458Plant Comparative Structure and Function
BISC 3459Field Biology **
BISC 3460Conservation Biology
or BISC 3460W Conservation Biology
BISC 3461Plant-Animal Interactions
BISC 3464Ecology and Evolution of Societies
CHEM 2085Environmental Chemistry
GEOG 2129Biogeography
or GEOG 2129W Biogeography
GEOG 2136Water Resources
GEOG 3108Weather and Climate
GEOG 3128Geomorphology and Natural Hazards
GEOG 3218Arctic Systems
GEOL 2106Oceanography
GEOL 2151Introduction to Paleontology
GEOL 3128Sedimentology and Stratigraphy
GEOL 3138Hydrogeology
GEOL 3191Geology of Energy Resources
Three of the following society courses:
ANTH 3407Conservation in a Changing World: Human and Animal Behavior
ANTH 3502Cultural Ecology
ECON 2136Environmental and Natural Resource Economics
GEOG 2124Urban Transportation
GEOG 2125Transportation Systems and Networks
GEOG 2127Population Geography
GEOG 2133People, Land, and Food
GEOG 2134Energy Resources
or GEOG 2134W Energy Resources
GEOG 2137Environmental Hazards
GEOG 2140Cities and Societies
GEOG 2141Cities in the Developing World
GEOG 3132Environmental Quality and Management
GEOG 3143Urban Sustainability
or GEOG 3143W Urban Sustainability
GEOG 3810Planning Cities
HIST 3001Special Topics (an environmental topic)
IA 3350
PHIL 2281Philosophy of the Environment
PPPA 2701Sustainability and Environmental Policy
PUBH 3132Health and Environment
PUBH 3150Sustainable Energy and Environmental Health
SUST 2002The Sustainable City
Two additional upper-level courses selected from the science and society course lists, above.

*Offered in the fall semester only.

**May count as either a science requirement or the field method requirement, but not both.