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College of Arts and Sciences
Environmental Studies

Environmental Studies

The human presence within the natural world is both full of promise and fraught with peril.  The Environmental Studies Program equips students with the knowledge and skills necessary to understand the multiple dimensions of today’s daunting environmental problems by integrating coursework in the natural sciences, social sciences, and humanities.  We thus empower new leaders to envision and enact sustainable forms of human-nature relations, not only for the benefit of our own species but also for the millions of other species with which we share the earth.  We value and nurture as well the prospects for greater human meaning and purpose afforded by such optimal relations with nature, and we promote a concern for social and environmental justice in accord with the Jesuit-Catholic mission of Seattle University.

Students develop a broad, interdisciplinary environmental perspective through the courses in the Environmental Studies core—those courses required of all our majors—and cultivate a more focused expertise in a particular area through the choice of a specialization.  Our available specializations are: Ecological Systems; Politics, Policy, and Justice; Urban Sustainability; and Environmental Education and Communication.  For more information, visit our Specializations page.

 In addition to learning in the classroom, students engage in a variety of field studies in both the natural and built environments, gaining firsthand knowledge of Pacific Northwest ecosystems and social systems, and the relations between the two.  Exciting opportunities for education abroad extend these learning experiences into a range of other countries.  Students also complete an internship with an environmental agency or organization in order to gain pre-professional experience in the dynamics of environmental policies, problem solving, research, education, and advocacy.  For more information about internships, visit our Internships page.

 A major in Environmental Studies provides a firm foundation for graduate education in many related fields and prepares students for rewarding careers with municipal, state, or federal environmental agencies, with a wide range of environmental nonprofits, and with businesses and industries.  Possible career paths include environmental education, urban planning, environmental journalism, natural resource management, park management, ecological restoration, sustainable agriculture, corporate sustainability, environmental consulting, and more. The Environmental Studies Program helps students find their place in this vast, compelling field and discover where they can make a real and meaningful difference in the world.

Program Benefits

  •   Undergraduate, interdisciplinary Environmental Studies degree
  •  Personal attention from faculty
  •  Choice of specializations
  •  90-hour internship
  •  Opportunities for education abroad
  •  Community engagement and fieldwork
  •  Undergraduate research opportunities
  •  Located in Seattle, WA, a leader in environmental research, policy, advocacy, and action

     Why pursue an Environmental Studies degree? The daily headlines sound the call--environmental disasters, climate change, renewable energy, sustainable living and eating, protecting wilderness and wildlife. Environmental Studies will equip you to meet some of the most crucial challenges of the modern world by exploring all these issues and many more.

     Here are just a few of the questions students address as Environmental Studies majors at Seattle University: How do ecosystems work? What is the connection between poverty and pollution? What can individuals, cities, and countries do to curb climate change and tread more lightly on the Earth? Does nature have intrinsic value? Can a more sustainable lifestyle lead to a more meaningful life?

    The unique Seattle University experience offers both breadth and depth. It strikes a broad interdisciplinary balance by incorporating up-to-date ecological science, enlightened environmental politics and public policy, and rigorous historical and philosophical analysis. And it also, in the life-affirming spirit of the Jesuit-Catholic tradition, recognizes the sacredness of creation. Thus, while many environmental studies programs focus largely on how to solve environmental problems, the Seattle University program emphasizes not only that, but also how our own depth of spirit can find a healing resonance in the depth of nature, forming a bond and igniting a spark that can inspire thoughtful and impassioned environmental action.

     Because of Seattle University's location, students also have the opportunity to explore the spectacular and diverse Pacific Northwest bioregion--home to three iconic national parks, two mountain ranges, and pristine salt and freshwater areas--and to live in Seattle, Washington, one of the most environmentally progressive cities in the country.


Join the EVST LinkedIn Group!

Join the new Seattle University Environmental Studies LinkedIn Group to learn about internship and job opportunities as well as connect with current students, alumni, and faculty. 

Seattle U's 4th Annual EcoChallenge

The challenge is on! It's almost Earth month and CEJS is organizing SU's 4th annual EcoChallenge from April 10-28. Register yourself or team up with friends for this fun, 3-week event! It is open to SU students, faculty, staff, and alumni. Visit the EcoChallenge website for more information. 

Congratulations Jason McCue!

Jason McCue, current EVST student, was just named the winner of the Seattle Museum of Popular Culture's 2017 Sound Off! music competition. CONGRATULATIONS, Jason!! To read more about it and to listen to Jason perform:  2017 Sound Off! winner

Take the Recyclemania Pledge

Recyclemania is a friendly competition between colleges and universities to reduce waste and improve waste diversion on campus. Seattle U's goal is to divert 80% of our waste between February 5 and April 1. Take the Recyclemania Pledge to help us reach our goal. Interested in volunteering or have any questions? Contact Eric Elliott at

Featured Alumni

Chris Johnstone, a 2015 EVST Graduate, completed a year long fellowship with Challenge Detroit, a leadership and professional development program in Detroit, Michigan. Challenge Detroit invites 30 young professionals to the city to work with local nonprofits on finding holistic solutions to challenges that face the city and its people. Chris was partnered with PM Environmental and continues to work for them after the completion of his fellowship. Chris says, "The experience has been nothing but rewarding, and I have thoroughly enjoyed learning about the city, its people, and its challenges from multiple perspectives." Find more information about Challenge Detroit here