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Major in Global Environmental Studies (B.A.)


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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.

Catalog Requirements for:

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.

The Global Environmental Studies 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

Building your foundation

The Clark Experience

We structure our curriculum around Liberal Education and Effective Practice (LEEP), which connects classroom learning with action through world and workplace experiences.

Learn More

Faculty and Programs in the Department of Geography