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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 you for interdisciplinary efforts to solve environmental problems. Our majors learn skills and ideas from multiple academic disciplines, and experience the cross-disciplinary teamwork that generates effective environmental knowledge.



University Events

The Need for Interdisciplinary Collaboration

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, Environmental Studies is inherently interdisciplinary. It is not a specific academic discipline alongside others. Rather it’s a space where disciplines overlap, providing an opportunity to interact across their boundaries, and to create a dynamic approach to the environment that responds to multiple sources of knowledge.

This interdisciplinary outlook is needed because no single way of thinking about the environment is enough. Instead we must think about it from a variety of perspectives. Each of the many academic disciplines involved in the formal study of the environment sheds an important light—but our understanding is enriched when different ways of seeing come together to reveal a fuller picture than is available from any single viewpoint.

This 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. Our program is built on the recognition that the capacities required for the teamwork used to tackle environmental issues include, in addition to knowledge of the environment, the ability to interact productively with others.

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

Environmental Studies on its own is ideal for students who have a broad interest in the environment. If you seek a generalized rather than a specialized undergraduate experience you will find a nurturing academic community in our program.

But Environmental Studies also works well as a second major, for students who want to develop “T-shaped” skills. If you have a more focused environmental interest and are pursuing a more in-depth training in a traditional discipline you can benefit by joining us as a double major. Environmental Studies will help you gain an intellectual breadth that complements the depth gained in another unit, cultivating your ability to work with people who have different kinds of expertise.



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.

Click for more information on the revised Environmental Studies minor.



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.