Environmental Studies

Environmental Studies is about the interactions between human and natural systems. How do human activities alter the environment and how do we respond to changes in the environment? Such scholarship has never been more important, as the coming decades are going to be dominated by challenges such as climate change and resource limitations. Addressing these issues requires a complex and interdisciplinary approach engaging all areas of scholarship. The natural sciences define what the problem is; by analyzing climatology, ecology, and other natural systems. The humanities then study how we perceive that problem--for example, how do culture and media presentations affect our perception of those systems? The social sciences analyze how those perceptions translate into action and policy, through economics and politics.

The UCSB Environmental Studies programs offers an undergraduate program targeting these complex interactions, engaging disciplines as diverse as geology, ecology, anthropology, sociology, history, and literature. We offer both BA and BS degrees in Environmental Studies, but both have a common core to ensure that students have solid interdisciplinary training coupled to more focused expertise. We mix classes taught by leading scholars with those taught by working professionals. A BS in Hydrological Sciences is also offered through our program.

ES is one of the oldest, largest, and most broadly interdisciplinary environmental programs in the Nation. We were founded in 1970 and our first graduating class in 1972 had only 12 students. Our most recent graduating class contained 150 students. Most of our graduates work in areas that are in some way related to the environment, but those jobs span diverse areas including business, academe, government, and various types of non-governmental organizations.