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Students in the Environmental Studies Learning Community work on their plot at the OU Fit + Rec Community Garden.

Environmental Studies

Environmental Studies prepares students for the interdisciplinary efforts needed to solve environmental problems. In both our BA and our minor students learn skills and ideas from multiple academic disciplines. They experience the cross-disciplinary teamwork that generates effective environmental knowledge.



University Events

Protecting the Environment: The ultimate team effort

Venn diagram with four circles labeled "Applied Disciplines," "Humanities," "Social Sciences," and "Natural Sciences." The overlap between the four circles is labeled "Environmental Studies"

Because the environment is all-encompassing, protecting it calls for an inherently interdisciplinary approach. That’s why Environmental Studies is not one more academic subject alongside others. Rather it’s where different subjects overlap, creating a dynamic outlook on the environment that responds to the many different ways people know the world. 

An interdisciplinary outlook is needed because no single way of thinking about the environment is enough. To get the complete picture we must think about it from a variety of perspectives. We tackle environmental problems better with the fuller view we get from integrating different academic approaches. 

Integration of diverse approaches is typically a group effort. It results from collaborations among people from different fields, who come together around their shared dedication to solving environmental problems.

Cross-disciplinary breadth along the top of the "T", Single-disciplinary depth down the middle. Graphic titled "T-Shaped Skills"

Environmental Studies doesn't lead to one specific type of job - because there's no one specific type of job that defines an environmental career. Environmental career paths run through many fields, including federal, state, tribal and local government agencies; advocacy groups and conservation organizations; businesses from manufacturing to finance; law firms; and park management; among many others.

What is typical of environmental jobs, though, is teamwork. Most environmental problems can only be solved through collaborations among people who bring different kinds of expertise to the table. A key skill you’ll need for any environmental career is the ability to contribute to teams, by being able to interact productively with others.

That’s why Environmental Studies aims to give you a “T-shaped” skillset: it emphasizes breadth on top of depth. Through electives, your own independent research project on an environmental question you choose, and maybe an additional major (required for minors), you will take some deep dives into specific subjects. But because you’ll study multiple fields, and work on projects with students who take different approaches to the environment than you do, you’ll gain the breadth needed to communicate across academic disciplines—helping prepare you for the teamwork you’ll experience in most environmental careers.



Changes in the Environmental Studies Minor

Starting with Fall 2023, the Biological Conservation and Water Sciences minors will no longer be offered - though students currently enrolled in these programs may continue in them (no courses are being deleted). And we will also offer a revised version of the Environmental Studies minor. Again, current students can continue with the original program, or they can switch to the new one.

The revised Environmental Studies minor follows the approach taken by our major, but is designed to work easily alongside traditional majors offered across OU. The minor will enhance any major, by cultivating students' broad academic skills.



OU Norman Land Acknowledgment 

Long before the University of Oklahoma was established, the land on which the University now resides was the traditional home of the “Hasinais” Caddo Nation and “Kirikirʔi:s” Wichita & Affiliated Tribes.

We acknowledge this territory once also served as a hunting ground, trade exchange point, and migration route for the Apache, Comanche, Kiowa and Osage nations.

Today, 39 tribal nations dwell in the state of Oklahoma as a result of settler and colonial policies that were designed to assimilate Native people.

The University of Oklahoma recognizes the historical connection our university has with its indigenous community. We acknowledge, honor and respect the diverse Indigenous peoples connected to this land. We fully recognize, support and advocate for the sovereign rights of all of Oklahoma’s 39 tribal nations. This acknowledgement is aligned with our university’s core value of creating a diverse and inclusive community. It is an institutional responsibility to recognize and acknowledge the people, culture and history that make up our entire OU Community.

For resources and a link to an Ally toolkit, follow this link.