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Environmental Science

Major Requirements

Students in the Environmental Science Program focus on the study of the problems that arise when human beings interact with the physical/natural environment.

As an area of study in a liberal arts college, this major highlights the interconnections between the natural and social sciences for approaching environmental problems. The approach is broadly based, and yet also focused on the student’s choice of an individual study track: Conservation and Ecology, Environmental Policy Analysis, or Water and Life.

One of the primary goals is to educate natural and social scientists in the liberal arts tradition, so students will understand how to approach complex problems using methodologies and philosophies from multiple disciplines including biology, chemistry, economics, geospatial science, and political science. The program prepares students for graduate study and/or careers in a variety of environmental fields.

Carthage offers a major in Environmental Science. Majors may select one of three course sequences to best suit their research interests and career goals:

Current students: You should follow the official College Catalog from the year you entered Carthage and work with your advisors and the program chair to ensure all requirements are met.

Environmental Science Major

The major in Environmental Science consists of at least 60 credits including a core set of courses (32 credits) and a plan of study (28 credits) chosen by the student in conjunction with their advisor. 

In consultation with an advisor, the student selects a plan of study that is both focused and interdisciplinary. Three sequences of study from which to choose have been approved for students. Changes to the sequences must be approved by the academic advisor and the Environmental Science Department chair. 

Per the College requirement, all Environmental Science majors must complete a senior thesis. An oral presentation of the senior thesis is required as part of the Environmental Science Senior Seminar (ENV 4000). Environmental Science majors who are double-majoring are required to take ENV 4000 even if they have completed a Senior Seminar in another major.

All students must complete the listed Core requirements:

Core Foundations

  • ENV 1000 Introduction to Environmental Science (4 credits)
  • ENV 2610 Case Studies in Environmental Science (4 credits)
  • ECN 3000 Research Design (4 credits)
  • ENV 4000 Senior Seminar (4 credits)

Core Skills

  • ENV 2100 Quantitative Environmental Analysis (4 credits)
  • GEO 1610 Introduction to GIS: Mapping Your World (4 credits)

Core Perspectives

  • ECN 3050 Environmental Economics (4 credits)
  • POL 3620 Environmental Politics (4 credits)

Core Experiences

  • ENV 4980 Applied Experience in the Discipline (0 credits)
  • ENV 4990 Senior Thesis Completion (0 credits)


All students must choose one track and complete the listed Track requirements:

Environmental Conservation Track

Track Foundations

  • BIO 3100 General Ecology
  • BIO/ENV 3400 Conservation Science

Track Skills

  • GEO 3900 Methods of Field Research
    GEO 2610 Advanced GIS
    GEO 2700 Satellite Image and Air Photo Analysis
  • ENV 2010 Environmental Chemistry (or other approved chemistry course)

Track Perspectives

Three upper-level science courses, at least two of which carry a lab, chosen from: BIO 3200 Aquatic Ecology, BIO 3210 Animal Behavior, BIO 3320 Entomology, BIO 4150 Field Botany and Mycology, BIO 4200 Advanced Ecology, GEO 3200 Hydrology, GEO 3400 Forest Ecology, GEO 3700 Climatology, GEO 3800 Soil Science, ENV 2750 Sustainable Agriculture, or other approved course.

Environmental Analysis Track

Track Foundation

ENV 2010 Environmental Chemistry

Track Skills

  • CHM 1020 General Chemistry II
  • CHM 2070 Organic Chemistry I
  • CHM 3230 Analytical Chemistry I or other approved upper-level science course.
  • PHY 2100 Physics I
    MTH 1120 Calculus I
    GEO 2610 Advanced GIS
    CSC 1030 Data Science I
    OR other approved course

Track Perspectives

Two upper-level science courses, at least one of which carries a lab, chosen from: BIO 3100 General Ecology, BIO 3200 Aquatic Ecology, BIO 3500 Advanced Cell Biology, GEO 3200 Hydrology, GEO 3700 Climatology, GEO 3800 Soil Science, ENV 2550 Environmental Pollutants, or other approved course.

Environmental Policy Track

Track Foundation

POL 3930 Environmental Law

Track Skills

  • SOC 3020 Sociological Research I (or other approved methods course)
  • CHM 1000 Better Living Through Chemistry
    ENV 2550 Environmental Pollutants

One data processing course chosen from: BUS/ECN 2340 Applied Statistics for Management and Economics, GEO 2610 Advanced GIS, CSC 1030 Data Science I, or other approved course.

Track Perspectives

One regionally focused course chosen from: POL 2400 American Government, POL 3040 African Transitions, POL 3360 Latin American Politics, POL 3370 Russian/East European Politics, POL 3380 West European Politics, POL 3400 Chinese Politics, ECN 3100 Political Economy of the Pacific Rim, GEO 2800 Geography of East Asia, or other approved course.

One course on the social components of policy chosen from: SWK 3100 Social Welfare Policy Analysis, POL 3450 Global Poverty, or other approved course 

One science course chosen from: BIO 3100 General Ecology, BIO 3200 Aquatic Ecology, BIO/ENV 3400 Conservation Science, BIO 4150 Field Botany and Mycology, GEO 1800 Great Lakes Basin, GEO 1900 Geology of National Parks, GEO 3200 Hydrology, GEO 3400 Forest Ecology, GEO 3700 Climatology, ENV 2010 Environmental Chemistry, ENV 2550 Environmental Pollutants, ENV 2750 Sustainable Agriculture, or other approved course.

Successful completion of ENV 1000 will fulfill many prerequisites for the courses listed in each sequence.

Applied Experience in the Discipline (ENV 4980)

Finally, students must complete an approved experience in which they apply their knowledge of Environmental Science outside the classroom, providing them with practical experience in the discipline. This experience should be an environmentally relevant job, internship, research experience, or substantive volunteer opportunity.

Examples include:

  • Relevant employment in the discipline, either over the summer or part-time during the academic year.
  • An environmentally relevant internship with an interest group, nonprofit organization, consulting firm, industry, government agency, etc.
  • Research experience through the Carthage SURE program or an off-campus program.
  • A substantive volunteer opportunity with an environmental focus.

Field experiences are approved as part of your plan of study. Consult your advisor for specific examples.

Current students, remember: You should follow the official College Catalog from the year you entered Carthage and work with your advisors and the department chair to ensure all requirements are met.

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