College of Arts and Sciences
Environmental Studies

Program Summary

  • Specializations

    The field of Environmental Studies, and thus our EVST curriculum, has a wide reach that encompasses the natural sciences, social sciences, and humanities so that students grasp the many facets of the human place in nature in light of both its problems and its prospects.  But in a broadly interdisciplinary field such as this, it is also important to cultivate some measure of expertise in a specific area, which is the purpose of our specializations, each of which is 20 credits.  The choice of a specialization should be made before the completion of 90 credits toward your SU degree (i.e., by the end of your sophomore year) and must be certified by submitting an “Addition of Another Major, Degree, Specialization, or Certificate” form to the Office of the Registrar.  In all the specializations, lower-division courses should, whenever possible, be completed before upper-division courses.

    Specialization in Ecological Systems 

    Ecological Systems

    The root of “ecology” is the Greek word “oikos,” meaning “household,” and this natural science specialization thus focuses on the geological, biological, and ecological structures and functions of the household of life.  And since human beings are such significant inhabitants of this global household, it includes an emphasis on how we can live sustainably within, as well as restore, such ecosystems.  Many of the relevant course options in ecological science are in the Biology Department, so we strongly encourage students pursing this specialization to consider completing a minor in Biology, which not only makes for a very appealing major/minor combination (with multiple courses counting for both) but also satisfies the prerequisite requirements for the Biology courses listed below.  Building on the natural science courses in the EVST core, coursework in this specialization includes a choice of courses in both physical science and ecological science and much field exploration in diverse and often beautiful Pacific Northwest habitats.  Numerous relevant internships are available with government agencies, nonprofits, and agricultural operations.


    Choose two of the following courses in physical science:

    UCOR 1840        Beaches to Mountains
    EVST 3910         Fire and Ice
    EVST 3910         Mountains to Sound
    EVST 3930         The Living Soil: Principles of Soil Science
    PHYS 3830         Dinosaurs and You: Climate Past, Present, and Future
    UCOR 3840        Arctic Environmental Change
    UCOR 3840        Natural Hazards

    Choose two of the following courses in ecological science:

    BIOL 2350       Invertebrate Zoology*
    BIOL 2360       Marine Invertebrate Zoology*
    BIOL 2520       Taxonomy of Flowering Plants*
    BIOL 2530       Marine Botany*
    BIOL 3650       Marine Biology*
    BIOL 3660       Conservation Biology*
    BIOL 3800       Animal Behavior*
    BIOL 3890       Environmental Physiology*
    EVST 3930      Agroecology
    BIOL 4600       General Ecology*
    BIOL 4620       Marine Ecology*
    BIOL 4640       Aquatic Ecology*
    BIOL 4660       Tropical Ecology*

    An approved course from Blakely Island Field Studies or another university
    * These courses will require BIOL prerequisites

    Specialization in Politics, Policy, and Justice

    Politics, Policy, and Justice
    Forms of human political organization and economic activity throughout history have often been part of the problem of environmental degradation and the associated human and nonhuman suffering, but they are also indispensable elements of a solution.  This specialization explores and critically analyzes the nature and development of such social and policy structures, with particular attention to issues of equity and justice, and develops students’ abilities to envision and to implement more equitable and sustainable alternatives.  Course topics range from local, national, and international political and legal processes to the practice of policy analysis and the ethical implications of environmental justice.  Appropriate internships opportunities abound in local, state, and federal government agencies and in political, religious, and environmental nonprofit organizations.



    Choose two of the following courses:

    PLSC 2000    Introduction to American Politics
    PLSC 2600    Introduction to International Politics
    PUBA 2150    Introduction to the Nonprofit Sector
    PUBA 3090    State and Local Policy

    Choose two of the following courses:

    EVST 4870    Environmental Justice
    EVST 4740    International Environmental Governance
    EVST 4830    Sustainable Development in the Tropics
    PUBA 4410    Policy Analysis
    ECON 4680    Natural Resource and Environmental Economics
    CEEGR 4760    Environmental Law and Impact Studies and an approved
                                   two-credit Directed Study

    Environmental Studies with a Specialization in Urban Sustainability

    Urban Sustainability

    The great and epochal human migration from countryside to cities has now resulted, for better or for worse, in more than half the world’s population living in urban areas.  And while urban growth is especially intense in developing countries, the urban population of the U.S. is growing faster than the nation’s overall population and recently surpassed 80% of the total.  In light of these facts, this EVST specialization addresses the crucial contemporary need to “green” our cities and to develop satisfying and sustainable urban lifestyles.  Coursework includes a basic grounding in urban planning and course options in the further physical and sociological dimensions of sustainable communities.  The environmentally progressive city of Seattle (along with several other local cities) is a very well equipped living laboratory for studying urban sustainability and offers many opportunities for interesting field trips and rewarding internships.


    PUBA 2010   Introduction to Urban Planning and Policy

    Choose three of the following courses:
    PUBA 2150    Introduction to the Nonprofit Sector
    PUBA 3090    State and Local Policy
    EVST 3740    Acoustic Ecology
    PUBA 3550    Community Design Workshop
    SOCL 3030    Sociology of Community
    EVST 3910    Urban Food Systems
    PUBA 4810    Exploring the American City
    PUBA 4820    Housing Design and the Sustainable Community
    ECON 4780   Urban/Regional Economics
    PHIL 4290     Urban Ethics

    Specialization in Environmental Education and Communication

     Environmental Education

    A classic definition of environmental education states that its goal is “to develop a world population that is aware of, and concerned about, the environment and its associated problems, and which has the knowledge, skills, attitudes, motivations, and commitment to work individually and collectively toward solutions of current problems and the prevention of new ones.”  This specialization serves this ambitious and indispensable goal by equipping students with the knowledge and skills necessary for raising the environmental consciousness and commitment of others, whether through direct, interpersonal teaching or through media-based advocacy and public awareness campaigns.  The coursework in this specialization integrates theory and practice and spans the spectrum from more focused and traditional educational approaches to more broad-based communication strategies.  The Puget Sound region holds many excellent internship opportunities in environmental education centers, parks, and nonprofit organizations.


    EVST 2450    Environmental Education

    Choose two of the following courses:

    EVST 3600    Nature Writing and Environmentalism
    EVST 3920    Ecopsychology
    EVST 3740    Acoustic Ecology
    EVST 4860    Children and Nature

    Choose one of the following courses:

    ART 1610       Digital Photography I
    ART 4800       Documentary Photography for Social Change
    CMJR 3200    Persuasive and Critical Writing
    CMJR 3300    Introduction to Graphic Communication
    CMJR 3500    Persuasion
    ENGL 3080    Advanced Writing: Argument and Persuasion
    CMST 4800    Environmental Discourse in the Public Sphere