Environmental initiative partners students with Mass. Gateways Cities
Major in Global Environmental Studies
Many environments. One world.
Our planet is facing extraordinary challenges, including climate change, environmental pollution, loss of biodiversity, and the unequal distribution of critical resources. As a global environmental studies major, you’ll gain a deep understanding of these issues and learn about ways to address them.
Exploring humanity’s complex relationship with the environment, you’ll learn to think critically about topics like sustainability, land use and resource management, energy, and geopolitics. And through our interdisciplinary curriculum, you’ll graduate prepared for careers in such fields as community planning, sustainability planning, environmental services, and conservation.
Why Choose Global Environmental Studies at Clark?
- Clark’s Graduate School of Geography, which oversees the global environmental studies major, is an internationally recognized leader in the field. For more than 90 years, our faculty and alumni have pioneered subfields as diverse as human-environment/nature-society, risk hazards, critical geography, animal geographies, and feminist geography. Our program is the only one to have developed its own geographic information science (GIS) software, IDRISI-TerrSet, which is now used worldwide.
- Learn from professors whose research — often in partnership with organizations like NASA, the National Science Foundation, Oxfam America, and the Wildlife Conservation Society — informs international debates on topics such as socioeconomic development, landscape transformation, climate change, and urbanization.
- Choose courses from 18 academic disciplines for this interdisciplinary program.
- Join a vibrant community of undergraduates, graduate students, and faculty who are united by a desire to address environmental challenges.
- Benefit from a program that prepares you for entry into top-ranked graduate programs and employment opportunities where you can make a difference in the world.
Illustrator merges her artistic and scientific passions
Topics range from DNA modifications to the evolution of folk music
Your Will. Your Way.
The Major Path
Course requirements for the global environmental studies major are structured so you can understand how economic, cultural, and political processes transform the earth’s environment and are, in turn, shaped by it. To complete the major, you’ll take courses distributed across four components:
- Five core courses, including a course in a natural science and one in the major’s “state of the Earth” cluster
- Two skills courses, with choices ranging from photography to GIS and research design
- Four specialization courses that focus in-depth on a subfield of your choice: political ecology, climate change and sustainability, or land and resources
- A capstone credit with flexibility to complete an internship, take an upper-level course, participate in a directed study, conduct an honors project, or participate in a research experience
If you qualify, you can apply to join Gamma Theta Upsilon, the international geography honor society, which also serves global environmental studies majors. Each year, the Graduate School of Geography, of which the global environmental studies major is a part, recognizes three seniors and one junior with paid awards: the Ellen Churchill Semple Award, the IDRISI GIS Excellence Award, the NCGE Excellence in Scholarship Award, and the Strabo Award.
Learn more about the major and minor in the GES Program Guide (PDF).
Skills you will learn include:
- Knowledge of how the natural world and human society are mutually constitutive
- Theoretical and practical skills to understand processes of physical and social change
- Ability to apply classroom learning to solve real-world problems
Linda Roth Memorial Activist Scholar Award
Linda Roth was a graduate of the geography Ph.D. program at Clark University and was an accomplished, award-winning forest ecology scientist and a life-long social justice and environmental activist. This award is given to an outstanding global environmental studies major who embodies the principles of scholarship and activism that Linda Roth demonstrated during her life.
Global Environmental Studies Outstanding Student Award
The Global Environmental Studies Outstanding Student Award is given to an outstanding graduating senior who is recognized for academic excellence within the global environmental studies program.
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 for Cartographic Technologies and Geographic Analysis, 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 global environmental studies 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:
- Reconciliation: Changing Pressures on Sustainable Urban Agriculture in Cuba
- Characterizing the Role of the Built Environment in Determining Juvenile-Tree Survivorship in Worcester, Massachusetts
- Characterizing Mangrove Distribution and Change in Antsohihy, Madagascar
- A Multi-Scale Assessment of Urban Forest Biodiversity: Tree Replanting as a Driver of Street Tree Composition
- Risks and Reasons of Lawn Chemicals: The Role of the Individual in Lawn Management
- Honors Program Guide
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.
We’ve Got It Covered
Many difficult political issues concern our relationship with the physical environment. Here you’ll study the problems and solutions associated with environmental phenomena that cross political borders of all kinds.
The Art and Science of Management
Learn basic management skills, and where and when to apply them. You’ll also learn about social responsibility and business ethics, and apply this knowledge through a community-based learning project.
Technology of Renewable Energy
Explore renewable energy sources, the hidden energy resources of conservation and efficiency, and the technical issues that go with converting from a fossil-fuel economy to one that is more sustainable.
Environmental Pollution Policy
Examine the role of science and the trade-offs inherent in crafting pollution policy in the U.S., how businesses perceive environmental policy and risks, and ways individuals can be motivated to minimize pollution.
The Arctic in the Anthropocene
The Arctic’s rapid warming has far-reaching implications for our planet’s climate. Discover the Arctic during an age of intense human activity, and the interactions between land, atmosphere, ocean, ice, and people.
Water and the City: a Socio-Hydrology of Worcester and Its Environments
Water is an emotionally and politically charged resource. Explore our city’s water system via field trips and readings, and grapple with current issues in water and wastewater management, conservation, and planning.
Psychogeography and Cultural Spaces
Use the lens of psychogeography to investigate how human-modified landscapes affect our emotions and behaviors. Explore how those landscapes are shaped, and how they can be modified to bring about social change.
Sustainable Consumption and Production
Investigate how — and if — changes in technology, institutions, and culture might lead to more environmentally sustainable development, and review case studies from the U.S., Europe, and developing countries.
Green Business Management
Can a business shrink its environmental footprint and still reduce operating costs? Learn how and, as part of a team, work with a client organization to create a customized Sustainability Action Plan (SAP).
Explore what this department has to offer