Requirements: Environmental Studies

Interdisciplinary

The major and concentration bring together the different perspectives of the life sciences, physical sciences, social sciences and humanities to help students understand the interactions between the human and natural systems that affect our environment. The academic program is enhanced by five green centers: the Office of Green Initiatives, the Kenyon Farm, the Kokosing Nature Preserve, the Philander Chase Conservancy and the 480-acre Brown Family Environmental Center (BFEC). The BFEC, within walking distance of campus, features a wide range of natural and managed habitats and includes part of the Kokosing River. The program’s goals are for students to understand the interplay among humans, together with their social and cultural institutions, and the physical, chemical and biological processes of the natural world; approach complex problems from an analytical perspective and apply logic, scientific principles and quantitative tools to their solutions; understand the social, historical, philosophical, spiritual and literary traditions that define the relationships between humans and their environment; and persuasively communicate ideas and logical arguments both orally and in writing as active participants in the environmental problem-solving process. Consequently, the major and concentration knit together many traditional academic disciplines, drawing on coursework in anthropology, economics, philosophy, political science, religious studies and sociology, in addition to biology, chemistry and physics.

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First-Year and New Students

Students interested in environmental studies are encouraged to take ENVS 112 in their first year.

Other appropriate courses for first-year or new students include:

  • ANTH 111 Introduction to Biological Anthropology
  • BIOL 115 Energy in Living Systems
  • ECON 101 Principles of Microeconomics
  • PHIL 190 Anthropocene Philosophical Problem
  • SOCY 101 Powers, Energies and Peoples

Requirements for the Major

The environmental studies major requires a total of 8.25–8.75 units, including a 2.0–2.5 unit curricular focus. Students who complete an approved second major, minor or concentration have completed the curricular focus requirement and require a total of 6.25 units to complete the major.

Common Core

Required Courses: six courses
BIOL 115 Energy in Living Systems
ECON 101 Principles of Microeconomics
ECON 336 Environmental Economics
ENVS 112 Intro to Environmental Studies
ENVS 231 Earth Systems
ENVS 461 Seminar in Environmental Studies

Choose one additional living systems course: one course
BIOL 228 Ecology
BIOL 352 Aquatic Systems Biology

Choose one quantitative skills course: one course
ENVS 220 Applied Environmental Analysis
MATH 258 Mathematical Biology

Choose one lab skills course: one lab
BIOL 229 Ecology Laboratory
BIOL 353 Aquatic Systems Lab
ENVS 210 Introductory Environmental Lab

Choose one additional skills course: one course
CHEM 110 Environmental Chemistry
CHEM 121 Introductory Chemistry
ENVS 104 Solar Power Systems: Science, Policy and Practicum
ENVS 261 Geographical Information Science

Choose one policy course: one course
PSCI 310 Public Policy
PSCI 342 Politics of Development
PSCI 363 Global Environmental Politics
PSCI 364 American Environmental Politics and Policy
PSCI 480 Science and Politics

Choose two courses in cultures, societies and environments (one each in two different disciplines): two courses
ANTH 111 Introduction to Biological Anthropology
ANTH 112 Introduction to Archaeology
ANTH 113 Introduction to Cultural Anthropology
ANTH 256 Habitat and Humanity
HIST 360 Corn, Farming and the Roots of American Cultures
PHIL 190 Anthropocene Philosophical Problem
SOCY 101 Powers, Energies and Peoples
SOCY 238 Environmental Sociology
SOCY 242 Science and Society: Nature, Ecology and the Crisis of the Enlightenment
RLST 350 Religion and Nature

Area of Curricular Focus

Students develop depth of knowledge in a curricular area in one of three ways: by completing an approved second major, an approved minor or concentration, or an area of curricular focus. Focal area requirements change frequently as course options change, so students should contact the program director or administrative assistant for a current schedule of focal area requirements. Students may propose a customized focal area with approval of a program co-director. If a student chooses to meet the focal area requirement with a relevant major, minor or concentration, the program director must approve the student’s program of study. The program director may require the major, minor or concentration to include particular courses to ensure the relevance of the program to the environmental studies major. Each area of curricular focus must exhibit the following characteristics:

  1. Focal areas must comprise no less than two (2) units and may require more.
  2. Focal areas must exhibit a clear pedagogical rationale and will be designed to develop curricular depth for the student. Such depth may or may not be contained within a single traditional discipline.
  3. Focal areas must contain at least one 300-level or 400-level course.

Experiential Community Exercise

Each student must complete an applied environmental exercise that provides a practical application of the knowledge and skills developed in the program within a community setting. The principle elements of the project are that a student must conceptualize, plan and/or execute a project, and that the project either benefit, or be in partnership with, some community. The student may be part of a team, but the student must be a principal in the project, not simply an observer. The senior capstone may not serve as the experiential community exercise, but may arise out of it. Examples of potentially acceptable experiences include, but are not limited to: approved courses with a practicum or community engagement component; a field-based study-abroad program that requires students to complete individual research; participation in NFS REU (Research Experiences for Undergraduates) research with community implications; an internship in which the student completes a significant environmental project; independent research with a faculty member; or an independent study working with a faculty member and a professional staff member at one of Kenyon’s green centers.

Senior Capstone

Majors will undertake a substantial, independent research project that demonstrates the development of depth in their environmental education and their ability to approach environmental issues from a systems-based, interdisciplinary perspective. Senior Capstones usually take the form of a research paper of around twenty to thirty pages in length, but may also take the form of substantial creative works for those whose area of curricular focus is in the arts. The choice of topic should reflect the student’s area of curricular focus in consultation with, and with approval from, the director and the faculty advisor. Students are encouraged to consult with any faculty member whose expertise supports their investigation. The faculty supervisor will generally be a member of the environmental studies faculty, but the director may approve other willing faculty members when their areas of expertise are appropriate to the topic. Projects are due early in the Spring semester of the senior year.

Requirements for the concentration

The concentration requires a total of eight courses. Affiliated courses are offered in anthropology, biology, chemistry, economics, philosophy, physics, political science, religious studies and sociology.

Required Environmental Studies Courses: two courses

ENVS 112 Introduction to Environmental Studies
ENVS 461 Seminar in Environmental Studies

Core Courses in Environmental Studies: three courses

BIOL 106 Conservation Biology
BIOL 115 Energy in Living Systems
CHEM 110 Environmental Chemistry
CHEM 121 Introductory Chemistry
CHEM 122 Chemical Principles
ECON 101 Principles of Microeconomics
ENVS 220 Applied Environmental Analysis
ENVS 231 Earth Systems

Elective Courses for Environmental Studies: three courses from the following courses in at least two departments:

Anthropology courses:
ANTH 111 Introduction to Biological Anthropology
ANTH 256 Habitat and Humanity
ANTH 320 Anthropology of Food
ANTH 324 Human Ecology: Biocultural Adaptations

Biology courses:
BIOL 228, 229 Ecology and Ecology Laboratory
BIOL 328 Global Ecology and Biogeography
BIOL 352, 353 Aquatic Systems Biology and Aquatic Systems Lab

Chemistry courses:
CHEM 231, 233 Organic Chemistry I and Organic Chemistry Lab I
CHEM 341 Instrumental Analysis

Economics courses:
ECON 336 Environmental Economics
ECON 342 Economics of Regulation
ECON 347 Economics of the Public Sector

Environmental Studies courses:
ENVS 104 Solar Power Systems: Science, Policy and Practicum
ENVS 251 Field Experience: Environmental Outreach
ENVS 253 Sustainable Agriculture
ENVS 261 Geographic Information Science

Philosophy courses:
PHIL 110 Introduction to Ethics
PHIL 115 Practical Issues in Ethics
PHIL 190 Anthropocene Philosophical Problem

Physics course:
PHYS 108 Geology

Political science courses:
PSCI 310 Public Policy
PSCI 342 Politics of Development
PSCI 363 Global Environmental Politics
PSCI 364 American Environmental Politics and Policy
PSCI 480 Science and Politics

Religious studies course:
RLST 350 Religion and Nature

Sociology courses:
SOCY 101 Powers, Energies and Peoples
SOCY 233 Sociology of Food
SOCY 238 Environmental Sociology
SOCY 242 Science and Society: Nature, Ecology, and the Crisis of the Enlightenment

Transfer Credit Policy

Because careful course selection is necessary to achieve specific objectives, students are urged to consult as early as possible with the program director and other faculty members in the Environmental Studies Program.

A maximum of two off-campus courses may be applied to the core of the major. A maximum of two additional off-campus courses may be applied to the area of curricular focus unless this is being satisfied by a minor, concentration or second major. In those cases, that program's requirement must be met. A maximum of two off-campus courses may be applied to the concentration. Students planning to take a course for transfer credit should consult the program director in advance as all transfer credit must be approved.