Major & Minor

Walden Pond, Concord MA

Environmental Studies is a particular way of thinking, conducting research, and posing questions.

We recognize that knowledge of societies, the environment, and the complex and multifaceted relationship they share, emerges from a wide range of disciplines, including the sciences, social sciences, and humanities. An environmental studies major or minor aims to provide students with critical skills that will allow them to engage current environmental issues and prepare to recognize future ones.

Central to this goal is helping students develop independent critical thinking, problem framing, and problem solving skills across disciplines and cultures with which they can diagnose and prioritize a wide range of environmental issues, from the local to the international, from the most pressing to the most long-term. Because of the interdisciplinary nature of environmental issues, the program draws upon courses from multiple departments. Each student will choose electives in consultation with her advisor to help focus her studies on an issue or approach that interests her.

Requirements for the Environmental Studies Major

Beginning with the Fall 2018 term, the ES Program is instituting a new set of major and minor requirements. New students entering the program will be subject to these new requirements. Students enrolled prior to Fall 2018 can select between the two sets, with any specific questions addressed to the ES Program Director.

New Major Requirements (as of Fall 2018)

A 10-course major:

The environmental studies major includes two components: a set of core requirements and a set of electives. The core requirements provide students with an interdisciplinary introduction to environmental studies. The electives (and flexibility within the core courses) allow students to pursue either a general approach to environmental studies or an area of focus that reflects their particular interests. For a full list of ES courses, visit the ES course catalog, and for a current list of non ES-listed courses for credit towards the ES major, visit this page.

1. Two required core courses:
     a. ES 102 
     b. ES 214 

2. Two science courses: 

     a. One introductory environmental science course, from among this list of courses:

     - ES 100 
     - ES 101 w Lab
     - BISC 108 w Lab
     - BISC 111 w Lab
     - GEOS 101 w Lab
     - GEOS 120/ASTRO 120 w Lab

     b. One additional NPS designated course from the list of Environmental Studies courses or Courses for  Credit Towards the ES Major. If the introductory science course taken didn't have a lab, the additional  NPS course must. Includes 100-level courses but not both ES 100 and ES 101. 

3. One environmental humanities course from among this list of courses:
     - ES/PHIL 105
     - ES/PHIL 233
     - ES/PHIL 234
     - AFR 226
     - ES 299
     - [ES 203] 

4. Four electives from the list of Environmental Studies courses or Courses for Credit Toward the Major, at least one of which must be at the 300 level. (Students are encouraged to take more than four electives.) These electives, along with the choice of required courses, allow students to focus their study or expand their general background in ES.

5. One capstone course: ES 398 or ES 399

Students will, in consultation with their advisors, choose one or more focus areas to lend depth and coherence to the major and can guide course choices.

Note: All courses that count for the ES major can be taken as electives, but no single course can fulfill two requirements for the major.

Students who have taken a core ES required course for another major or minor can substitute an ES elective (200-level or above) instead of taking an additional core ES course to fulfill the same requirement.

A student may petition to count a course not listed in the Courses for Credit Toward the Major list. Students should contact the Director forapproval, and the Director will use her/his discretion in seeking guidance from the ES Advisory Faculty.

Students may count three courses taken from outside of Wellesley toward the environmental studies major. Students may petition the ES Advisory Faculty to count more than three courses from outside Wellesley. Such petitions will be considered on a case-by-case basis. Courses should be approved by the Director prior to enrollment. AP credit in Environmental Science cannot be used to replace any Environmental Studies requirements. 

Courses from Away

Students may count three courses taken from outside of Wellesley toward the environmental studies major. Students may petition the ES Advisory Faculty to count more than three courses from outside Wellesley. Such petitions will be considered on a case-by-case basis. Courses should be approved by the Director prior to enrollment. AP credit in Environmental Science cannot be used to replace any Environmental Studies requirements.

Individual Study

ES 250 or ES 350 (Research or Individual Study) can be advised by any member of the advisory faculty in Environmental Studies. A partial unit course may only count as credit toward the major when combined with another partial unit course. Only two units of independent study may be counted toward the major. ES 350 courses may not be used to fulfill the minimum requirement that two electives be at the 300 level. ES 360 and ES 370 do not count toward the minimum major. - top -

Old Major Requirements (eligible for students enrolled prior to Fall 2018)

There are four components to the 10-course major (full course list here):

1. Two introductory courses, which may be taken in any order. Students may choose any two courses from this list, provided that at least one course has an ES designation, and at least one course is a lab:

  • ES 100
  • ES 101 with Lab
  • ES 102
  • ES 103 
  • ES 104
  • ES 105
  • BISC 108 w Lab
  • BISC 111 w Lab
  • GEOS 101 w Lab
  • GEOS 120/ASTR 120 w Lab

2. One 200-level core course in each of these categories:

  • Science: ES 201 or ES 220 or BISC 201
  • Social Science: ES 214 or ES/ECON 228 (ECON 101 is a prereq) or ES/ANTH 265
  • Humanities: ES 203 or ES 299 or ES/PHIL 233 or ES/PHIL 234 or AFR 226 

3. Four electives from ES courses and the list of Courses for Credit Toward the Major, at least two of which must be at the 300 level. (Students are encouraged to take more than four electives).

4. One capstone course: ES 300 or ES 398 or ES 399

Introductory, core, and capstone courses may also count as electives, but no single course can fulfill two requirements for the major. Two partial credit courses may be combined to count toward a single elective.

A student may petition to count a course not listed in the Courses for Credit Toward the Major list. Students should contact the Director for approval, and the Director will use her/his discretion in seeking guidance from the ES Advisory Faculty. - top -

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Requirements for the Environmental Studies Minor

New Minor Requirements (as of Fall 2018)

A 5-course minor:

1. Two required core courses:

  1. ES 102
  2. ES 214

2. Three electives from Environmental Studies courses or the list of Courses for Credit Toward the Major. 

For a full list of ES courses, visit the ES course catalog, and for a current list of non ES-listed courses for credit towards the ES minor, visit this page.

Courses from Away

Students may count no more than one course taken away from Wellesley towards the environmental studies minor. This course should be approved by the Director prior to enrollment. AP credit in Environmental Science cannot be used to replace any Environmental Studies requirements. - top -

Old Minor Requirements (eligible for students enrolled prior to Fall 2018)

The minor is designed to provide all students with a set of core knowledge and exposure to a breadth of approaches and ideas important to environmental studies.

There are three components to the 5-course minor (full course list here):
1. One introductory course from this list:

  • ES 101 with Lab
  • ES 102
  • ES 103 
  • ES 104
  • ES 105
  • BISC 108 w Lab
  • BISC 111 w Lab
  • GEOS 101 w Lab
  • GEOS 120/ASTR 120 w Lab

2. One 200-level core course each in two of these three categories (two courses total):

  • Science: ES 201 or ES 220 or BISC 201
  • Social Science: ES 214 or ES/ECON 228 (ECON 101 is a prerequisite) or ES/ANTH 265
  • Humanities: ES 203 or ES 299 or ES/PHIL 233 or ES/PHIL 234 or AFR 226

3. Two electives from ES courses or the list of Courses for Credit Toward the Major:

  • Introductory, core, and capstone courses may also count as electives, but no single course can fulfill two requirements for the minor.
  • A student may petition to count a course not listed in the Courses for Credit Toward the Major list. Students should contact the Director for approval, and the Director will use her/his discretion in seeking guidance from the ES Advisory Faculty. - top -