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Environmental Studies

This guide points to selected resources in the area of Environmental Studies. Information about Washington University and its libraries is also found here.

Environmental Earth Science Major

The Environmental Earth Sciences major is designed to enable students to delve deeply into the interdisciplinary study of critical environmental topics.  Student understanding of environmental science is fostered both by a broad base of coursework across the natural sciences, and by the unique perspective earth science provides on the context and complexity of environmental systems.

The major consists of three components; 1) required courses for all majors, 2) natural science electives, from which a major can choose a particular area of natural science in which to gain additional depth or breadth, and 3) a focus area, in which students take a selection of advanced science and social science classes to explore a particular environmental topic in depth.

Required classes (29 credits)

Recognizing that environmental science is a fundamentally interdisciplinary endeavor, all students at the beginning of their course of study will complete introductory classes in earth and planetary sciences, biology, math, chemistry, and philosophy (ethics), in order to acquire the basic skills and knowledge required to address environmental problems. It is also critical for students to be able to apply and communicate what they’ve learned both outside the classroom and in an interdisciplinary fashion. After the student has reached junior standing,  we therefore require 3 credits of either an environmentally related field school, internship, or independent research.

Tier 1 science electives (15 credits)

Through Tier 1 science electives, students will begin to build a depth in environmental earth sciences (3 courses in the EPSc department). They will also obtain a grounding in environmental engineering, and/or build on the foundation they gained in math, chemistry, biology, and physics by completing their required courses (an additional 2 courses).

Themes (15 credits)

The theme consists of 5 courses, at least 3 in the natural sciences and up to 2 in the social sciences. Students may choose these classes from established theme areas, or may design their own theme (subject to faculty approval). The list of courses within each focus is designed to foster an interdisciplinary understanding of the topic at hand. Current foci are: “climate and energy”, “human-altered environments”, and “life in its environment”. These themes, and the list of courses involved in each theme, are expected to evolve as the faculty changes.

Environmental Earth Science Courses

Required Courses

Tier 1 Science Electives, choose 3 courses from:

Choose two courses from:


Choose one specialization and take 5 classes total, no more than 2 social science/humanities allowed 


  • Students may propose substitution of relevant classes for those listed here, or design their own theme (subject to approval)
  • Pathfinder students may substitute Path 201 and 201 for one of the non-required courses in each theme
  • Courses may not double count for a theme and a tier 1 elective
  • ChemE 542 and EECE 590 count as social science
  • No more than two social science classes can be taken in a theme area

Theme: Climate and Energy


Choose four courses from:

Theme: Human-altered Environments

Required: choose 1 course from:

Choose four courses from:

Theme: Life in its Environment


Choose four courses from: