Polaris Project research

Global Environmental Studies Major and Minor

The Major

Global Environmental Studies examines the relationships of people, culture, and society with the biophysical environment. It provides a grounding in the human forces that transform the earth and consequences of this transformation for individuals, society, and well being of the planet. These relationships are explored as they interact through global to local and local to global connections. If you seek to learn about:

  • Why the world community cannot agree to combat climate change through the Kyoto convention
  • How cardboard production in the developed world leads to tropical deforestation in Borneo
  • How the earth system can abruptly change, creating new climates world wide
  • Why the social movement against genetically modified crops has gained global currency
  • Will sea level rise endanger New England settlements
  • Why social justice and environmental justice are intertwined
  • How the recent California fires could have been prevented through satellite monitoring
  • How to build a more sustainable human-environment relationship

...then the Global Environmental Studies major is for you.

Click here to view our "What is GES" poster

The major offers such technical skills as remote sensing and geographical information systems for those students seeking them as well as an array of internships, study abroad, and special study programs. Among these is the HERO (Human-Environment Regional Observatory) which awards summer fellowships to selected undergraduates to engage in data collection and research with faculty on local environmental change and to undertaken a year-long HERO Fellows seminar.

GES builds on Clark's long and varied tradition of interdisciplinary studies of human-environment relationships. Clark's faculty and students pioneered or currently lead in such international and interdisciplinary research and teaching subfields as:

  • political ecology
  • geographical information science
  • gender and environment
  • the greening of industry
  • land-change science and degradation
  • sustainability science and vulnerability assessments
  • natural hazards and risk assessment
  • natural resource development and equity
  • urban ecology


The GES faculty have been selected for major research and teaching awards in the US and internationally. They serve on numerous national and international boards, panels, and agencies that attend to global to local environmental and environment-development problems. And they all sustain active research and outreach programs, most of which are open to GES student participation. These students, in turn, have been selected to present poster and papers at major meetings throughout the US and Canada, study abroad at major environmental and related programs, and engage city and regional councils to generate a more environmentally sustainable community and region.


These are examples of off-campus positions that GES majors might get involved in:

The Worcester City Mayor's Office working on brownfields, energy efficiency, or climate change
Tatnuck Brook Watershed Association
Massachusetts Audubon Society
HERO Fellow
Regional Environmental Council
Worcester Urban Gardeners Coalition
Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection
Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife
Oxfam, Boston
Cultural Survival, Boston
Organic Farming

Photography © Chris Linder