The Bachelor of Science in Environmental Science degree at Seattle University provides the technical background necessary for students who wish to develop a career studying environmental systems. The major provides tools students will need as they become environmental professionals. These include coursework in mathematics, natural sciences, field methods, mapping tools, and the quantitative data analysis approaches that are increasingly part of this interdisciplinary field. The major also provides strong professional preparation and deep understanding of the scientific process through a year-long senior capstone project in which teams of three to five students work on a real-world project with an external sponsoring organization.
Seattle University’s commitment to an integrated education creates many opportunities to examine environmental issues from multiple perspectives. This is emphasized within the core curriculum, which includes philosophy, literature, economics, and law. It is also an important part of elective courses, many of which can lead to minors in areas such as biology, chemistry, or environmental economics. Because sustainable environmental stewardship is invariably rooted in science, the major provides the background necessary to bring the scientific perspective to the topics of environmental, social and economic sustainability.
The Bachelor of Science in Environmental Science degree offers a broad background in the basic and applied sciences, with foundational courses in biology, chemistry, physics, statistics, and environmental engineering. It is distinct from other majors in that it focuses on the interconnectedness and complexity of natural systems, and on how human systems influence environmental quality. Courses in field methods, Geographic Information Systems (GIS), ecology, hydrology, and data analysis provide a solid grounding in standard ways of measuring and representing these processes. The major is partially self-designed, allowing students to take additional upper division courses in the areas that best suit their interests. Examples include advanced courses in marine and conservation biology, water resources, hazardous waste management, or chemical analysis of environmental samples. Because the Environmental Science program is housed within the Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering, students also benefit from the technical expertise of faculty advisors who are professionally trained in the management of the built environment.
Seattle is a great place to study environmental science. One of the fastest growing metropolitan areas in the United States, Seattle is also built on the shoreline of one of the world’s great estuaries, Puget Sound. Unfortunately, urban growth and other environmental stressors have had significant environmental impacts. Managing our unique natural heritage is one of the greatest challenges faced by the region. Thankfully, the fragility of the natural systems is increasingly being addressed by federal, state, and local research agencies as well as by a range of consulting companies and foundations. Seattle is a regional and national hub for this kind of research, meaning that there are a number of opportunities for SU students both during their time at SU and post-graduation, as they begin to work with resource management agencies, private consulting firms, or as they pursue environmental graduate studies.
One of the defining features of Seattle University is the individualized attention that students receive from faculty. Small class sizes allow students to develop personal relationships with faculty members both within the department and in other related fields. In addition, our faculty is well-connected with the local community of environmental scientists and provides hands-on training on real projects. In 2014, the department began an exciting new experience for all of our students. Following the model of Seattle University’s nationally-recognized engineering Project Center, the program connects teams of students with outside professional sponsors and faculty advisors who provide hands-on training on a real problem over the course of an entire academic year. We believe that we have the best technical capstone program in the United States, and this is supported by the long list of awards that our engineering teams regularly receive. These capstone experiences provide professional preparation and professional connections, and our students consistently say that their capstone projects are defining features of their academic careers. A description of 2014-2015 capstone projects is provided here.