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Double Majoring

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Double Majoring

Environmental Studies as a Second Major

Preparing for Teamwork

Environmental Studies is different from many other environmental programs, which aim to develop a particular set of skills anchored in their respective disciplines. In contrast, the Environmental Studies degree provides a generalist training: it gives students a broad academic background that incorporates coursework relevant to the environment in the natural and social sciences, humanities, and applied disciplines.

But Environmental Studies’ generalist training can complement the more specialized training students will receive in a traditional discipline, by serving as a second major. Students who pair Environmental Studies with a traditional major will be ideally positioned to join teams or other collaborative efforts that address society’s pressing environmental problems. Double majors will be able to contribute their own discipline-based expertise, but they will also have a sufficient understanding of others’ approaches to be able to help with the essential task of integrating various disciplinary contributions into the team’s overarching solution. As with teams in sports, students will have the skills associated with their own positions, but will also be able to coordinate their efforts with others. Likewise, people trained in different disciplines make essential contributions—but solutions come when they know enough about each other’s disciplines to be able to work together.

Training for a “T-shaped” Skillset

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

This is the idea of “T-shaped training” for people who want to pursue environmental careers. The vertical line represents the “depth piece:” the specialized training students receive in a traditional academic discipline. But that depth piece is complemented by a “breadth piece”—represented by the horizontal line. The T model pairs both pieces, to convey the idea that an ideal training is one that gives students both the depth they need to make real progress on a part of a problem, and the breadth they need to interact with others in order to be part of a team that can tackle the problem as a whole.

The Environmental Studies major is an ideal way to gain that “breadth piece,” the horizontal part of the T. By double majoring, students who are receiving the in-depth training in a particular approach to environmental issues from a traditional major can gain both a familiarity with other ways of thinking about the environment (through the electives), and also experience interacting with students getting trained in other disciplines (through the core sequence).

How to Do a Double Major

At 30 hours, Environmental Studies fits easily with many other majors. The Environmental Studies advisor is ready to work with you and the advisor for another major to develop a plan for graduation that suits you to a T.