Environmental Sciences

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Do you want to 'save the world'?
Learn about the impact humans have on the environment
and work to understand & change it?

ESCI students in the field - geosciences class

What is an Environmental Scientist?

An environmental scientist applies a scientific understanding of the natural world to the protection of nature. These members of the scientific community are concerned with balancing human needs with the needs of organisms in the natural environment and the needs of future generations who may be harmed by environmental abuses.

Environmental scientists look at pollution and other environmental problems and come up with solutions. They figure out what is in the air, water, and soil to make sure that the environment is safe. They also give advice on how to clean the environment. For example, they might design a better way to get rid of waste.

An environmental scientist can also work as a researcher, conducting studies which are designed to provide insight into the natural environment and the ways in which it is used. Some environmental scientists focus on studying pristine populations so that they can learn about the complex relationships which exist in the natural environment, while others are interested in the intersection between human populations and the environment. For example, an environmental scientist might study the impact of damming on a river, a population of endangered animals, or look at how farming impacts plant biodiversity.

The Issue

Our current socio-economic system requires large quantities of natural resources- fossil fuels, metals, wood, water, plants, rocks and minerals. The extraction, refining, shipping and processing of these natural resources to meet our societal needs and create our consumer products, not to mention their use and disposal, often results in environmental degradation- whether understood or (often) unintended. As a result, there is an increasing demand for environmental scientists to address the environmental challenges we face in this century.

The Major

The Environmental Sciences major integrates the strengths of programs in Biology, Chemistry, and Geosciences to understand the Earth ecosystem as a whole.

Nested Systems

As our socio-economic system is nested within this ecosystem, our students are also required to take courses in geographic information systems, environmental history and environmental economics to provide a complete picture of the complexities of the problems we face as a society.

Many of the courses in this major have field components where students collect environmental samples, analyze them, and produce comprehensive interpretations of the data.

Students demonstrate their ability to conduct independent work in the environmental sciences through internships with local conservation departments, consulting firms or municipalities, or through research with a faculty member.

Possible careers after completion of this major include: environmental consulting, resource management, conservation scientist, aquatic and fishery research/management, wildlife management, conservation officer, and environmental and community planning. See more information about potential career options here.

The need for Environmental Scientists is GROWING... do you want to be a part of it?


Page modified 10/17/13