Environmental Studies at UVM

ENVS Major & Minor Overview



ENVS Major Flow Chart
Environmental Breadth Requirements
ENVS Concentrations
Internships and Experiential Learning
Senior Capstones


The ENVS major is available to students in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS for a B.S.), College of Arts and Sciences (CAS for a B.A.), and the Rubenstein School of Environment and Natural Resources (RSENR for a B.S.). Some of the majors in the College of Education and Social Services (CESS) allow students to complete a major concentration in ENVS. The ENVS minor is available to students in all UVM colleges/schools.

Students take the introductory ENVS core courses, 001 and 002, and then take topical courses to explore their interests. Typically, then, students enroll in ENVS 151 Intermediate Environmental Studies in their third to fifth semester. In it students develop a concentration to direct their environmental course choices and high impact learning activities through graduation. A major plan is developed listing all courses taken and planned for the future. As academic interests are further refined, with adviser guidance this plan is often revised. Seniors finish their major with one of the capstone choices involving either research/project/creative arts project, advanced internship, or three additional advanced-level courses.

In short, ENVS majors take 11 cr. of core courses, either 18 (CAS students) or 30 (CALS and RSENR students) 100-200-level credits relating to the chosen concentration. Within the concentration they complete the 4-course environmental breadth requirements. The major is completed with a 9-credit senior capstone at the 200-level. Here's an ENVS flow chart to show you the major graphically.

ENVS minors take 17 credits, minimum, of ENVS credits, with an option of 3 approved non-ENVS credits at the appropriate level.

More overview information about the ENVS major by college/school.

Environmental Breadth Requirements

As part of their concentration all students take one 100-200-level course in each environmentally-related breadth area:

  • Natural Science (NS) - courses that use scientific models and critical thinking based in the scientific disciplines to understand ecological patterns and human impact on ecosystems.
  • Social Science (SS) - courses that use political, economic, sociological, or anthropological frameworks to understand eco-social systems and address causes and solutions to environmental impacts.
  • Humanities (HUM) - courses that draw on the values-oriented literature and narrative methods of literature, arts, philosophy, religion, and history to expose different perspectives, norms, and insights into human-nature relations.
  • and International (INT) - courses that provide a global perspective on environmental concerns or offer insight into the drivers of environmental concerns for a country or region outside the United States. Appropriate campus, travel study and study abroad courses will fulfill this requirement.

As best they can, students choose courses that relate to their concentration and serve to educate from each breadth perspective.

ENVS Concentrations

Six concentrations serve as advising guidelines for students with those interests. Each concentration comes with a list of relevant courses. Course choices are not limited to those on the sheet. With advising support, you may design your own concentration.

The six pre-designed concentrations and corresponding attached pdf:

  • Conservation and Stewardship - Scientific and management approaches for landscape protection and stewardship with a focus on field observation, conservation planning and policy; interdisciplinary grounding in the environmental and conservation sciences.
  • Food, Land and Community - Ecological aspects of agricultural landscapes, food production and distribution with a focus on scientific and social analysis in food and agriculture aspects of environmental planning and community development; interdisciplinary grounding in agroecology and sustainable food systems.
  • Environmental Policy and Development - The role of social, political, and economic forces in environmental policy and economic development with a focus on problem analysis, systems thinking, and social evaluation; interdisciplinary grounding in the environmental social sciences.
  • Nature, Culture and Justice - Nature-culture concerns reflecting social values and justice issues with a focus on environmental communication, expression, and advocacy; interdisciplinary grounding in the environmental humanities.  Tracks in the creative arts, environmental ethics, and environmental education and activism.
  • Sustainability Studies - Sustainable ecological and social processes that inform human choices in relation to energy, transportation, climate, waste, and food systems, with a focus on applying sustainability principles to environmental problem-solving; interdisciplinary grounding in systems thinking and ecological processes.
  • Environment and Health - The connection between environmental health and human health impacts of degraded and toxic soils, water, food, and air with a focus on problem analysis, systems thinking, and social evaluation; interdisciplinary grounding in environmental health sciences and social sciences.

Internships and Experiential Learning

The Environmental Program places a high value on experiential education. We strongly encourage students to engage in internships, independent research, supervised field studies and practicum projects, apprenticeships, etc. as an integral part of their undergraduate education--for credit, or not.

Senior Capstones

ENVS majors choose one of three options to fulfill the nine 200-level credits required to conclude their major.
The capstone must be: the equivalent of 9 credits of 200-level work; individually approved by ENVS faculty; and appropriate to the student's background and capabilities.

  • Senior Thesis/Project/Creative Arts Project - a concentrated in-depth hands-on interdisciplinary research study, project, or creative arts project
    in the area of student’s concentration.
  • Senior Internship - application of interdisciplinary environmental skills and knowledge in an organizational setting
    with an agreed set of work goals and learning objectives.
  • Advanced Courses - advanced course-based integration of interdisciplinary environmental skills and knowledge.

For a printable version of the capstone summaries, see the Senior Capstone Options Description Sheet.

Senior Thesis / Internship Index by Year, and by Subject