Environmental Studies at UVM

ENVS Major & Minor Overview



Environmental Breadth Requirements
ENVS Individual Design Program
Internships and Experiential Learning
Senior Capstones


The ENVS major is available to students in:
College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (B.S.) 
College of Arts and Sciences (B.A.)
Rubenstein School of Environment and Natural Resources (B.S.)
College of Education and Social Services** (CESS) 

Students take the introductory ENVS core courses, 001 and 002, and then take topical courses to explore their interests. Students then enroll in ENVS 101 Academic Planning Workshop 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 three capstone choices. Here is a visual flowchart of the ENVS major.

The ENVS minor is available to students in all UVM colleges/schools. ENVS minors take 17 credits, minimum, of ENVS credits, with an option of 3 approved non-ENVS credits at the appropriate level.

**Only some of the majors in CESS allow students to complete a major concentration in ENVS.

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

Environmental Breadth Requirements

For students who have taken ENVS 195/101: Academic Planning Workshop

As part of their concentration all students choose one course in each environmentally-related breadth area:

  • Natural Science - ENVS 188 Sustainability Science OR ENVS 195 Applied Ecology 
  • Social Science - ENVS 141 Ecological Economics OR ENVS 195 Environmental Policy & Activism 
  • Humanities - ENVS 167 Global Environmental History OR ENVS 195 Environment, Literature, Arts & Media


For Students who took ENVS 151: Intermediate Environmental Studies (not offered after spring 2016)

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 Individual Design Program

Each ENVS major develops their own plan of environmentally-related study after taking the introductory core courses (001 and 002). This individual-design program (IDP) includes intermediate and advanced level courses drawn from ENVS and other disciplines of interest. The courses ought to gather around a theme that is broad enough to offer both breadth and depth in particular topics, while remaining cohesive. Students develop their IDP’s in ENVS 101 Academic Planning Workshop with oversight from the instructor. The IDP can change through to graduation if interests evolve, with guidance from an advisor.

To help students identify courses to include in their IDP’s, we have gathered environmentally-related courses into six thematically-clustered course lists (formerly designated “concentrations”) The themes and courses listed are offered as suggestions and as reference tools to direct students toward courses relevant to their interests. Students can choose courses from any one or more lists. With advisor approval, students may choose courses off-list.

Please note: courses are never guaranteed. They come and go depending on departmental decisions and budgets, faculty appointments and interests, and sabbaticals and other leaves. We encourage students to carefully consider and plan for course prerequisites, be resourceful, plan responsibly, and be well informed about the courses they intend to take.

  • 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