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College of Letters & Science

Environmental Studies

Eligibility for the Major
Requirements for the Major
Foundation Courses
Environmental Theme Courses Field Experience
Capstone Experience

Undergraduate advisor: Academic Programs Office, 70 Science Hall, 608-262-7520; undergrad@nelson.wisc.edu

In today's world many academic programs, even in environmental fields, encourage students to specialize—to focus on relatively narrow subject areas. Yet real-world problems often require understanding beyond that of a single academic discipline. For this reason, more and more employers seek people with interdisciplinary training. The environmental studies major exposes students to a broad range of environmental thinking. It helps put the courses of the student's other major into perspective. The environmental studies major is always completed as part of a full double major. This rigorous program of study is evidence to employers that the graduate has acquired not only depth in one major field, but breadth of environmental understanding within and beyond that field—an excellent combination.

The major, offered by the College of Letters & Science and administered by the Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies, provides unique opportunities for undergraduate students to broaden their studies through interdisciplinary course work related to the environment. Because this major must be taken simultaneously with another undergraduate major, students not only learn about current environmental issues, they also learn how to link environmental science, policy, literature, art, and philosophy to another chosen field of study.

The environmental studies major provides students with an academically rigorous course sequence that encompasses introductory through advanced understandings of the interdisciplinary field of environmental studies. This major includes courses from across campus that expose students to the perspectives and methods used by the physical, biological, and social sciences and humanities to wrestle with environmental questions and solutions.

Unlike most other undergraduate majors at UW–Madison, the environmental studies major is open only to students who are enrolled in and completing another major. This unique structure ensures that students who pursue the environmental studies major graduate with both a deep understanding of their disciplinary major and the broad interdisciplinary skills needed to work on environmental issues in a wide variety of career settings.

Eligibility for the Major

The environmental studies major is offered through the College of Letters & Science. Most undergraduate students enrolled at UW-Madison, pending approval from their home school or college, may apply for the environmental studies major. Overlap between the environmental studies major and the student's other major(s) is limited.

Requirements for the Major

Declare and Complete an Additional Major
  • Students must have a primary major declared by reaching 85 degree credits or the environmental studies major may be canceled.
  • At a minimum students must show 15 credits that do not overlap between the environmental studies major and each of the students' other major(s). Students outside the College of Letters & Science may be required to meet additional overlap requirements.
FOUNDATION COURSES (12-credit minimum)

Students are required to take one course from each of the following areas, one of which must be at the intermediate or advanced level (I/A/D).

  • Courses used in the Foundation area cannot also be used in the Environmental Theme area.

Environmental Humanities (Take one course.)
Envir St 113 Environmental Studies:The Humanistic Perspective , 3 cr
Envir St/Geog/History 460 American Environmental History, 4 cr

Environmental Social Science (Take one course.)
Envir St 112 Environmental Studies:The Social Perspective , 3 cr
Envir St/Geog 139 Resources and People, 4 cr
C&E Soc/Soc 140 Introduction to Community and Environmental Sociology, 3 cr
C&E Soc/F&W Ecol/Soc 248 Environment, Natural Resources, and Society, 3 cr
Envir St/Geog 339 Environmental Conservation, 4 cr
AAE/Envir St 344 The Environment and the Global Economy, 3 cr

Physical Science Atm Ocn 100 Weather and Climate, 3 cr
Atm Ocn 101 Weather and Clinate, 4 cr
Envir St/Geosci 106 Environmental Geology, 3 cr
Physics 115 Energy, 3 cr
Envir St/Geog 120 Global Physical Environments, 3 cr
Envir St/Geog 126 Principles of Environmental Science, 3 cr
Envir St/Geog 127* Physical Systems of the Environment, 5 cr
Atm Ocn/Soil Sci 132 Earth's Water: Natural Science and Human Use, 3 cr
Envir St/Geog/Soil Sci 230 Soil: Ecosystem and Resource, 3 cr
Envir St 250 Introduction to Sustainability Science, 3 cr
Soil Sci 301* General Soil Science, 4 cr
Atm Ocn/Envir St/Geog 331 Climatic Environments of the Past, 3 cr
Atm Ocn/Envir St/Geog 332 The Global Warming Debate, 3 cr

Ecological Science (Take one course)
Geosci 110 Evolution and Extinction, 3 cr
Botany/Geog 240 Plants and Man, 3 cr
Botany/Envir St/Zoology 260 Introductory Ecology, 3 cr
F&W Ecol 401 Physiological Animal Ecology, 3 cr
Botany/F&W Ecol/Zoology 460* General Ecology, 4 cr
F&W Ecol 550* Forest Ecology (to count for Field Experience must be taken for 4 credits), 3-4 cr

ENVIRONMENTAL THEME COURSES (15-credit minimum)
  • Students are required to take five courses/15 credits from the thematic areas listed below.
  • Courses may be concentrated in one area or taken from multiple areas.
  • Courses used in the thematic areas cannot be used in the Foundation area.

Biodiversity
Entomol/Envir St 201 Insects and Human Culture-a Survey Course in Entomology, 3 cr
Entomol 302 Introduction to Entomology, 4 cr
F&W Ecol 318 Principles to Wildlife Ecology, 3 cr
Geog 338 Environmental Biogeography, 3 cr
Envir St/F&W Ecol/Zoology 360 Extinction of Species, 3 cr
Envir St/Land Arc 361* Wetlands Ecology, 3 cr
Agron/Botany/Soil Sci 370 Grasslands Ecology, 3 cr
Envir St 375* Field Ecology Workshop, 3 cr
Botany 401 Vascular Flora of Wisconsin, 4 cr
Anthro /Botany/Zoology 410 Evolutionary Biology, 3 cr
Botny 422 Plant Geography, 3 cr
C&E Soc/Envir St/Geog 434 People, Wildlife and Landscapes, 3 cr
Botany/Zoology 450 Midwestern Ecological Issues: A Case Study Approach, 2 cr
Botany/F&W Ecol 455* The Vegetation of Wisconsin, 4 cr
Botany/F&W Ecol/Zoology 460* General Ecology, 4 cr
Zoology 475* Marine Biology and Ecology
An Sci/Zoology 520 Ornithology, 3 cr
An Sci/Zoology 521 Birds of Southern Wisconsin, 3 cr
Agron/Atm Ocn/Soil Sci 532 Environmental Biophysics, 3 cr
Geog 538 The Humid Tropics: Ecology, Subsistence, and Development, 4 cr
F&W Ecol 550* Forest Ecology, 3 or 4 cr
Envir St/ Botany/F&W Ecol/Zoology 651* Conservation Biology, 3 cr
Land Arc 667* Field Study: Native Plant Communities, 3 cr

Climate
Geog 321 Climatology, 3 cr
Atm Ocn/Envir St/Geog 331 Climatic Environments of the Past, 3 cr
Atm Ocn/Envir St/Geog 332 The Global Warming Debate, 3 cr
Geog/Geosci 420 Glacial and Pleistocene Geology, 3 cr
Atm Ocn 425 Global Climate Processes, 3 cr
ME 466 Air Pollution Effects, Measurement and Control, 3 cr
Atm Ocn/Envir St/Physics 472 Scientific Background to Global Environmental Problems, 3 cr
Atm Ocn/Envir St 520 Bioclimatology, 3 cr
Atm Ocn 522 Tropical Meteorology, 3 cr
Geog/Geosci 523 Quaternary Vegetation Dynamics, 3 cr
Geog/Geosci 527 The Quaternary Period, 3 cr
Atm Ocn/Envir St/Geog 528 Past Climates and Climatic Change, 3 cr
Atm Ocn/Envir St 535 Atmospheric Dispersion and Air Pollution, 3 cr

Energy
ECE 356 Electric Power Processing for Alternative Energy Systems, 3 cr
BSE/Envir St ST 367 Renewable Energy Systems, 3 cr
Envir St/NE 373 Nuclear Energy and the Environment, 3 cr
Envir St/Geosci 411 Energy Resources, 3 cr
BSE 460 Biorefining: Energy and Products from Renewable Resources, 3 cr
ME 461 Thermal Systems Modeling, 3 cr
ME 466 Air Pollution Effects, Measurement and Control, 3 cr
Envir St/Atm Ocn 535 Atmospheric Dispersion and Air Pollution, 3 cr
AAE/Econ/Envir St/Tran P U/Urb R Pl 671 Energy Economics , 3 cr

Food and Agriculture
Food Sci 120 Science of Food, 3 cr
Nutr Sci 132 Nutrition Today, 3 cr
C&E Soc/Soc 222 Food, Culture, and Society, 3 cr
C&E Soc/Hist Sci 230 Agriculture and Social Change in Western History, 3 cr
Agronomy 300 Cropping Systems, 3 cr
Envir Sci/Geog 309 People, Land and Food, 3 cr
AAE/Agronomy/Inter-Ag/Nutr Sci 350 World Hunger and Malnutrition, 3 cr
Hort 370 World Vegetable Crops, 3 cr
Agronomy 377 Cropping Systems of the Tropics, 3 cr
Folklore 439 Foodways, 3 cr
C&E Soc/Soc 650 Sociology of Agriculture, 3 cr

Health
Nutr Sci 350 World Hunger and Malnutrition, 3 cr
Pop Hlth 375 Introduction to Public Health, 1 cr
Civ Eng 422 Elements of Public Health Engineering, 3 cr
Civ Eng 423 Air Pollution Effects, Measurement and Control, 3 cr
ME 466 Air Pollution Effects, Measurement and Control, 3 cr
Envir St/Pop Hlth 471 Introduction to Environmental Health, 3 cr
Envir St/Pop Hlth 502 Air Pollution and Human Health, 3 cr
Envir St/Hist Sci/Med Hist 513 Environment and Health in Global Perspective, 3 cr
Gen&WS 533 Global Woman's Health & Human Rts, 3 cr
Hist Sci/Med Hist/Pop Hlth 553 International Health and Global Society, 3 cr
Civ Eng/ M&Envtox/Soil Sci 631 Toxicants in the Environment: Sources, Distribution, Fate & Effects, 3 cr

History/Culture
Envir St 307 Lit and the Environment: Speaking for Nature, 3 cr
Geog 319 Environmental Evaluation and Adaptation, 3 cr
F&W Ecol/Zoology 335 Human/Animal Relationships: Biological and Philosophical Issues, 3 cr
Envir St/Geog 339 Environmental Conservation, 3 or 4 cr
Envir St/Hist Sci 353 History of Ecology, 3 cr
Envir St/Philos 441 Environmental Ethics, 3 or 4 cr
Amer Ind/L Sc Com 444 Native American Envirnomental Issues and the Media, 3 cr
Envir St/ F&W Ecol/History 452 World Forest History, 3 cr
Envir St/Philos 453 Aesthetics of the Natural Environment, 3 cr
Envir St/Geog/History 460 American Environmental History, 4 cr
CHICLA/History 461 The American West to 1850 3 or 4 cr
CHICLA/History 462 The American West Since 1850 3 or 4 cr
Anthro 470 Ecological Anthropology, 3 cr
Amer Ind/History 490 American Indian History, 3 or 4 cr
Envir St/Geog 537 Culture and Environment, 4 cr

Land Use
Envir St/Geog/Soil Sci 230 Soil: Ecosystem and Resource, 3 cr
Geog/Urb R Pl 305 Introduction to the City, 3 or 4 cr
AAE/Econ/Real Est/Urb R Pl 306 The Real Estate Process, 3 cr
Geog/Urb R Pl 312 Regional Development and Planning, 3 cr
Envir St/Soil Sci 324 Soils and Environmental Quality, 3 cr
Envir St/Geog 325 Analysis of the Physical Environment, 4 cr
Geog 338 Vegetation: Stability and Change, 3 cr
Envir St/Geog 339 Environmental Conservation, 3 or 4 cr
Geog 344 The American West, 3 cr
BSE/DS/Land Arc 356 Sustainable Residential Construction, 3 cr
F&W Ecol 410 Principles of Silviculture, 3 or 4 cr
Envir St/Geosci 410 Minerals as a Public Problem, 3 cr
Econ/Real Est/Urb R Pl 420 Urban and Regional Economics, 3 cr
C&E Soc/Envir St/Geog 434 People, Wildlife and Landscapes, 3 cr
Amer Ind/L Sc Com 444 Native American Envirnomental Issues and the Media, 3 cr
Envir St 449 Government and Natural Resources, 3 or 4 cr
F&W Ecol/Soil Sci 451 Environmental Biogeochemistry, 3 cr
Envir St/F&W Ecol/History 452 World Forest History, 3 cr
Envir St/Geog/ History 460 American Environmental History, 4 cr
Land Arc/Urb R Pl 463 Evolution of American Planning, 3 cr
Geog/Urb R Pl 505 Urban Spatial Patterns and Theories, 4 cr
Envir St/F&W Ecol 515 Renewable Resources Policy, 3 cr
Envir St/Geog 537 Culture and Environment, 4 cr
Geog 538 The Humid Tropics: Ecology, Subsistence, and Development, 4 cr
Envir St/Soil Sci 575 Assessment of Environmental Impact, 3 cr
Urb R Pl 601 Site Planning, 3 cr
Envir St/Botany/F&W Ecol/Zoology 651* Conservation Biology, 3 cr
Land Arc 666* Restoration Ecology, 3 cr
Land Arc 667* Field Study: Native Plant Communities, 3 cr
Land Arc 677 Cultural Resource Preservation and Landscape History, 3 cr
Envir St/Land Arc/Soil Sci 695 Applications of Geographic Information Systems in Natural Resources, 3 cr

Policy
Poli Sci 219 Introduction to Public Policy, 3 or 4 cr
Envir St/Geog 339 Environmental Conservation, 3 or 4 cr
AAE/Econ/Envir St 343 Environmental Economics, 3 or 4 cr
AAE/Envir St 344 The Environment and the Global Economy, 3 cr
BSE/DS/Land Arc 356 Sustainable Residential Construction, 3 cr
BSE/Envir St 368 Environmental Law, Toxic Substances, and Conservation, 2 cr
F&W Ecol 410 Principles of Silviculture, 3 or 4 cr
Amer Ind/L Sc Com 444 Native American Envirnomental Issues and the Media, 3 cr
Envir St/Econ/Poli Sci/Urb R Pl 449 Government and Natural Resources, 3 or 4 cr
ME 466 Air Pollution Effects, Measurement and Control, 3 cr
Envir St/ F&W Ecol 515 Renewable Resources Policy, 3 cr
Civ Eng 522 Hazardous Waste Management, 3 cr
Envir St/Philos 523 Philosophical Problems of the Biological Sciences, 3 cr
Envir St 539 Air Resources Science and Policy, 3 cr
C&E Soc/Soc 540 Sociology of International Development, Environment and Sustainability, 3 cr
Geog 541 Environmental Stewardship and Social Justice, 3 cr
C&E Soc/Soc 573 Community Organization and Change, 3 cr
Gen Bus 600 Environmental Strategy and Sustainability, 3 cr
Gen Bus 601 Systems Thinking and Sustainable Businesses, 3 cr
Civ Eng/M&Envtox/Soil Sci 631 Toxicants in the Environment: Sources, Distribution, Fate & Effects, 3 cr
RMI 650 Sustainability, Environmental and Social Risk Management, 3 cr
Econ 663 Population and Society, 3 cr
Envir St/Urb R Pl 668 Green Politics: Global Experience, American Prospects, 3 cr

Water
Atm Ocn/Geosci 105 Survey of Oceanography, 3 or 4 cr
Atm Ocn/Soil Sci 132 Earth's Water: Natural Science and Human Use, 3 cr
Civ Eng 311 Hydroscience, 3 cr
Envir St/Zoology 315 Limnology: Conservation of Aquatic Resources, 2 cr
Envir St/Zoology 316* Lab for Limnology: Conservation of Aquatic Resources , 2 or 3 cr
Civ Eng 320 Environmental Engineering, 3 cr
Soil Sci 322 Physical Principles of Soil and Water Management, 3 cr
Civ Eng 322 Environmental Engineering Processes, 3 cr
Envir St/Land Arc 361* Wetlands Ecology, 3 cr
Zoology 510 Ecology of Fishes, 3 cr
Zoology 548 Ecology or Rivers and Streams, 4 cr
GLE/Geosci 627 Hydrogeology, 3 or 4 cr
GLE/Geosci 629 Contaminant Hydrogeology, 3 cr

Field Experience

The field experience in the Environmental Studies major can be met in one the following ways:

  • A designated field course from the courses listed above indicated by an *.
  • Participation in an environmental study abroad where 50% or more of the contact hours are in an out-of-doors situation (see Forms page - http://www.nelson.wisc.edu/undergraduate_major/forms.php).
  • Participation in an environmental internship where 50% or more of the contact hours are in an out-of-doors situation (see Forms page - http://www.nelson.wisc.edu/undergraduate_major/forms.php).

Capstone Experience

  • Envir St 575 Assessment of Environmental Impact
  • Envir St 600 Environmental Studies Capstone Seminar
  • F&W Ecol 652 Decision Methods for Natural Resource Managers
  • In some cases a senior research project, for a minimum of 3 credits, that meets the specific criteria of an Environmental Studies Capstone course may be substituted for this requirement. If the student and a faculty member believe the student has a suitable project, the student should contact undergrad@nelson.wisc.edu for more information.

Pass/fail courses. Courses in the environmental studies major can not be taken on a pass/fail basis.

Double counting/course overlap. With the exception of the field experience, courses listed under more than one category in the curriculum may be used to satisfy only one category. For example, a student who selects Envir St/Soil Sci 575 as the capstone course cannot also use it to satisfy the thematic area requirement.

L&S major requirements. In addition to major requirements, students are also required to fulfill L&S degree requirements. For more information see this link.

geBLC information. For information on symbols in the geBLC column in the Course Guide, see this link.