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BA in Environmental Studies

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BA in Environmental Studies

The Environmental Studies Major


Photo of seven students in caps and gowns

The Environmental Studies major includes a 15-hour core sequence and 15 hours of electives. Both components of the program are aimed at the goal of “environmental conversancy.” Through a core-course overview of environmental work at OU (the “Cornerstone” class) and through electives in different disciplines, students will become conversant with a range of academic approaches to environmental issues. On that basis, they will be able to participate productively in conversations on environmental topics with people who have a range of academic backgrounds. Students will hone that skill in other core courses, and in other specifically interdisciplinary electives. A key feature of the core sequence is an individual research project (or other “high impact” learning experience). Majors will get training and support on planning a research project in the “Cornerstone” class. And majors will be part of an ongoing Environmental Studies Learning Community—a one-hour class taken (at least) three semesters, which will enrich students’ experience of learning about the environment.

Core Sequence

The Environmental Studies core is designed to foster a sense of community among its majors. It provides a sequence of academic experiences in which students gain knowledge and skills that enhance their capacities to engage in interdisciplinary work on the environment. The first four courses listed should be taken in order. The fifth course is a one-hour class taken three times, including concurrently with the first two.

A flow chart describing the core course sequence. ENST 2813: Cornerstone is taken with ENST 3891: Learning Community. Then ENST 3893: Research Project is taken with ENST 3891: Learning Community. Then ENST 4883: Seminar is taken, followed by ENST 4893: Capstone. ENST 3891: Learning Community is taken another time. ENST 3891 must be taken a total of 3 semesters
  1. ENST 2813, Environmental Studies Cornerstone. The Cornerstone is like “boot camp” for the program: it prepares students who have declared the major to engage in interdisciplinary work.
  2. ENST 3893, Environmental Studies Research Project. The Research Project is an independent study into an environmental issue with one or more faculty researchers.
  3. ENST 4883, Environmental Studies Seminar. The Seminar involves intensive study of models of interdisciplinary scholarship—major academic works that integrate multiple disciplines.
  4. ENST 4893, Environmental Studies Capstone. In the Capstone students apply their knowledge and skills by working on a team to address a local or regional environmental concern.
  5. ENST 3891 – Environmental Studies Learning Community. The Learning Community deepens students’ engagement with Environmental Studies’ culture of interdisciplinary interaction. It is taken along with ENST 2813, again with 3893, and one additional semester.

Click to view more detailed descriptions of the core courses.


Electives for the Environmental Studies major fall into two groups: interdisciplinary courses, and single-discipline courses. Majors must take two from the first group and three from the second, for a total of 15 hours.

Courses in the interdisciplinary group (designated by #ID) are mostly offered by the Environmental Studies program itself, with an ENST designation. These are courses that are designed to bring together ideas and methods regarding the environment from at least two different academic disciplines. Thus students will learn not only the content, but also the value of thinking in an interdisciplinary way.

Majors are required to take three courses from the single-discipline group. This is to ensure that they gain “environmental conversancy”—a general familiarity with different approaches, typical of different disciplines, to the environment. Most of these courses are offered by other units across OU, though some are offered by Environmental Studies. This group is subdivided into four categories: Natural Science (#NS), Social Science (#SS), Humanities (#HU), and Applied Disciplines (#AD). Students must take a course from each of three categories.

CategoryCourse TitleGenEd TypePrerequisites
#IDENST 1013: Consumption and the EnvironmentIII. Social ScienceNone
#NSENST 2203: Ecosystem Impacts of Climate ChangeII. Natural ScienceNone
#SSGEOG 4943: Natural HazardsIII. Social ScienceJunior or senior standing
#ADL A 4943: History and Theory of Landscape ArchitectureNoneJunior standing or permission of instructor

View full directory of approved electives

View electives offered Fall 2024

If you have taken, or plan to take, a course—at OU, or elsewhere—that you think is appropriate as an elective, please contact the Environmental Studies advisor to submit it for approval. Please provide a course syllabus, including topics covered, readings, and descriptions of assignments, for the semester you took the class.