Majors and Minors
The Environmental Science curriculum recognizes the need for well-trained scientists to cope with balancing human requirements and environmental conservation. Majors acquire an understanding of earth systems by taking courses in the natural sciences, as well as courses investigating environmental stress. Students learn to critically evaluate the diverse information necessary for sound environmental analysis. Courses foster an interdisciplinary approach to environmental problem-solving. Internships or some type of work, research, or field experience are extremely valuable in preparing you for a career in Environmental Science. You might want to consider a semester or summer program at the SEE-U, SEA Semester at Woods Hole, the School for Field Studies, the Organization for Tropical Studies, or some other field program. In addition, all students majoring in Environmental Sciences are urged to take a course where you gain experience using spreadsheets, statistics, and data analysis on computers.
Environmental Science provides a scientific basis for management of earth systems. It focuses on the interaction between human activities, resources, and the environment. As human population grows and technology advances, pressures on earth's natural systems are becoming increasingly intense and complex. Environmental Science is an exciting field where science is used to best serve society.
Environmental Biology Majors take courses in both the Environmental Science and Biology departments. Majors will have advisers from both departments and will elect whether they will complete senior research thesis coursework in either the Environmental Science or Biology Departments. Career opportunities are possible in: research, natural history museums and parks, environmental education, environmental advocacy, and government agencies.
The Environment and Sustainability major was approved by the Barnard Faculty in the Fall of 2017, growing out of a revised and renamed version of the Environmental Policy major. Sustainability is a growing field focusing on finding solutions in an ever-changing environment. Majors develop an understanding of the processes and stresses of earth's systems, handle environmental data and make reasoned assessments, and engage in collaborative and interdisciplinary work required for developing approaches to maintain a sustainable environment. Careers in Sustainability are growing to meet the needs of our changing planet.
Students considering a major in Environmental Science or Environmental Biology should meet with Co-Chair, Brian Mailloux and students considering majors in Environment and Sustainability or minor in Environmental Science should meet with Co-Chair, Martin Stute during their first or sophomore year to discuss various options for fulfilling requirements. Please go to their Faculty pages and make an appointment under Office Hours.
We also encourage students to meet with faculty members to discover more about their areas of interest. For assistance in your pursuits, don't hesitate to meet with your adviser or department chairs. See also Academic Recommendations and Opportunities, Research and Affiliations for ideas.
Students interested in pursuing further work in environmental science within the context of other areas may consider doing a special major. Students interested in environmental law, teaching and journalism may also wish to consider a double major, or a major/minor combination in relevant fields. Some other departments such as Urban Studies and Human Rights offer concentrations which may be appropriate. Students who pursue the special major option must have very clear ideas about both the breadth and depth of their topics as they will be placing themselves somewhat outside of major department's structure and supports. Please see your advisor, Environmental Department Co-Chair, and Class Dean for advice on navigating the Special Major petition process and requirements.