What is Environmental Studies?
“A constituency able and willing to fight for the long-term human prospect must be educated into existence. It must be scientifically literate enough to recognize politicized science for what it is. It must be courageous enough to face facts squarely. It must be committed enough to avoid the seductions of cheap citizenship. It must be intellectually alive enough to demand careful and thoughtful analysis of public problems. It must be able to tell the difference between ecological sense and nonsense.” - Dr. David Orr, Paul Sears Distinguished Professor of Environmental Studies and Politics at Oberlin College.
Environmental issues are complex and multi-dimensional and cannot be understood or addressed from any single discipline. OU’s Dodge Family College of Arts and Sciences has established the environmental studies program for students who wish to develop knowledge and skills in specific areas related to environmental issues while remaining grounded in an interdisciplinary outlook. The environmental studies major offers an extremely flexible degree plan with a core of five courses, all but one selected from lists of options in physical and natural sciences and skills and methods. In addition to the core students must also select nine courses distributed over three basic categories: environmentally related humanities, natural sciences, and social sciences.
A wide variety of courses from all across the university comprise the lists from which the student chooses. The lists include courses in environmental studies, philosophy, English, anthropology, political science, biology, plant biology, economics, history, and history of science, among others. Students have used the flexibility of this program to focus on such things as wildlife conservation, renewable energy, environmental policy, general environmental studies, water issues, and the like. Majors and minors will be well and broadly prepared for work in nonprofit and for-profit organizations, environmental advocacy, environmental policy, outdoor and environmental education, and natural resources management.
The environmental studies major works well in combination with the nonprofit studies minor. It can also be a good double major with fields such as letters, political science, history, international and area studies, plant biology, biology, and communications. For those students with a strong interest in environmental issues who plan to major in business, journalism, education, geography, meteorology, or health sciences, the environmental studies major would work well as part of a double degree program. The environmental studies major is also a great lead in for graduate school in various areas of ecology, conservation, communications, journalism, law school, environmental education, resource management, and environmental management, among others.
So, what's my degree?
Students enrolled in the environmental studies program have the option to pursue either a Bachelor of Arts or a Bachelor of Science degree. Students can pursue further education through OU's Master of Science in Environmental Studies program.
Do my interests fit?
Environmental studies students typically have interests in:
- Renewable energy
- Natural resources
- Environmental justice
High school preparation should be broad-based and include courses in physical and natural sciences, geography, history, and writing.
How can OU Evironmental Studies help me?
Environmental studies is a collaborative teaching and research program with a student-guided curriculum designed to create the leadership and a workforce with the skills needed to help meet global challenges relating to water security and other pressing environmental issues such as pollution, climate change, and deforestation.
Environmental studies provides an undergraduate curriculum that leverages water and other environmentally related strengths with expertise across the University of Oklahoma, and provides for scholarly specialization in water-related and other environmental disciplines, in order to prepare students to participate effectively in socially responsible solutions to some of the greatest environmental problems and threats facing humanity.
Environmental studies prepares students for environmentally related jobs, including those in federal, state, and tribal government agencies, environmental consulting firms, corporate, professional, and industrial enterprises, environmentally related NGOs, journalism, public service, law, advocacy, and legislative lobbying efforts.
What courses will I take?
The environmental studies major consists of 48 major credit hours chosen from the four primary areas: environmentally related natural sciences, social sciences, humanities, and skills. Additionally, 11-14 credit hours of support courses in biology, chemistry, and physics are required. Click here for lists of possible courses in each of the four primary areas.
How can I get involved?
How can I study abroad?
OU has numerous study abroad opportunities for students of all majors. Environmental Studies students may want to consider taking a foreign language when studying abroad. Whether you want to take electives, lower-division courses, or major requirements, be sure to check out what education abroad opportunities are available to you through the College of International Studies.
What kind of career could I pursue?
How much will I make?
Visit the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ website to explore the median pay for jobs you can pursue with this degree.