Majors-Environmental-Science

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Because we don’t have a backup planet

The importance of environmental science is made plain every day. The changing climate, polluted air and water, loss of biodiversity, a growing population, and food insecurity are just a few examples of our planet under pressure. It needs protection. At Clark, you’ll explore these and other pressing issues affecting our home — the Earth.

But that’s just the beginning. In addition to understanding, our planet needs action. In the environmental science major, you’ll put your learning into practice by getting out in nature, taking part in research projects, interning at environmental organizations, exploring diverse places and spaces through study abroad, and taking action both on campus — through the Clark Sustainability Collaborative — and beyond.

Why Study Environmental Science at Clark?

  • Learn from world-class faculty who conduct field exploration, both in New England and on all seven continents, and who address sustainability challenges by analyzing problems and identifying solutions.
  • Examine environmental challenges from all academic perspectives — sciences, social sciences, humanities — and from the perspective of action and change.
  • Align the major with your personal interests by choosing from three broad areas of specialization: environmental science and policyearth system science, and environmental and conservation biology.
  • Gain experience with leading-edge methods of analysis including geospatial informatics, big data analytics, decision methods, and community engagement.
  • Participate in high-impact research in our Lasry Center for Bioscience laboratories, with the Human-Environment Regional Observatory (HERO) Program, and through our world-renowned Graduate School of Geography’s connections with international governments, science organizations, NGOs, and businesses.
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Your Will. Your Way.

The Major Path

The environmental science major requires the completion of 17 to 18 courses, depending on the track selected. You’ll complete three core courses — Earth System Science, Environmental Science and Policy: Introductory Case Studies, and Introduction to Biology I, each of which provides an overview of one of three areas of focus in environmental science — and choose one area to pursue in depth. (Learn more below.)

  • Earth system science: In this track, you will examine the structure, function, and interaction of the parts of the earth’s lithosphere, atmosphere, hydrosphere, and biosphere. Earth system science is at the heart of some of our most pressing physical science and nature-societal issues, including global climate change, water availability, and the loss of biological diversity.
  • Environmental and conservation biology: Environmental biologists explore the ways in which organisms evolve and interact with one another and their environments. Levels of exploration can range from molecular evolution and genomics to ecosystem level function. Conservation biology makes up one component of this field, focusing on the biological knowledge necessary to preserve biodiversity. Because the loss of biodiversity has reached crisis levels, we offer a focused curriculum that lets you bring appropriate biological tools and knowledge to efforts to develop conservation strategies and policies.
  • Environmental science and policy: This track will prepare you to deal with the complexities of environmental issues in a societal context. You’ll gain an in-depth understanding of how human activity impacts the natural environment, along with scientific, social science, and policy perspectives on how these impacts can be managed and mitigated. The track’s strong emphasis on the natural sciences ensures that you will understand the technical, as well as the social, aspects of the world’s most pressing environmental issues.

Skills you will learn include how to:

  • Design a hypothesis, and collect and interpret relevant data
  • Communicate scientific information orally and in writing
  • Work as part of a team

Special facilities available to you include the Jeanne X. Kasperson Research Library at the George Perkins Marsh Institute, the Guy H. Burnham Map and Aerial Photograph Library, Clark Labs, and earth system science teaching and research laboratories in polar science, forest ecology, and terrestrial ecosystem physiology. Learn more.

During your junior year, you might be accepted into the environmental science honors program. Joining the program means you’ll work closely with a professor to create a thesis on a topic of your choice. Examples of recent honors thesis topics are:

  • Food Security and Sustainability for At-Risk Youth in Main South Neighborhood, Worcester, Mass.
  • Regeneration of Subalpine Spruce-Fir Forests After Spruce Beetle Outbreaks in the Context of a Changed Climate
  • Profiling Pollution at a Combustion Research Center in Holliston, Mass. to Explore Public Health Implications
  • Limiting Leopard Predation on Livestock: Protective Cattle Enclosures as a Strategy for Human-Leopard Conflict Mitigation Around Yala National Park, Sri Lanka

The LEEP difference

An education merging knowledge, action, and impact

With Liberal Education and Effective Practice, lessons begin in the classroom but never end there. Your learning includes world and workplace experiences that forge your skills and shape your path.

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