Environmental Studies


Requirements for the BA degree

Best introductory (Tier 1) courses

Learning outcomes and career options

Environment at UA

Green Course Guide




The B.A. in Environmental Studies is designed to provide an opportunity for UA undergraduates with an interest in the environment from a social science and policy perspective to obtain a degree that provides exciting career opportunities, takes advantage of world-class UA expertise in the environmental social sciences, and prepares them to live and work as environmentally informed professionals and citizens. 

The B.A. in Environmental Studies focuses on human-environment interactions and environmental policy with coursework that combines topical, methods, theoretical and field-based instruction and encourages the understanding of environmental issues from the regional (Southwest US) to global scales.   Course choices include social science and policy courses on water, land use, food, energy, the built environment, environmental history, gender and the environment, and climate-related issues in both urban and rural contexts.  Students are expected to take selected courses in environmental science that provide a basis for understanding environmental policy. Methods training will cover basic statistical and qualitative analysis as well as geographic information science and remote sensing, with the option to take advanced courses in this area.  Core courses will introduce students to a variety of social science theories for understanding human-environment interactions with options for advanced coursework in areas such as political ecology, risk assessment, institutions, and environmental economics. 

A large and distinguished faculty teach courses for this degree.  The B.A. in Environmental Studies encourages majors to double-major in other UA programs, in order to complement the interdisciplinary approach of the Environmental Studies program.

Inverview with EVS student


Course Requirements for the BA in Environmental Studies

For the B.A.: 36 units total (12 courses), of which at least 21 units (7 courses) must be 300-level or higher. Course selection should be coordinated with the Faculty Advisor Dr. Dereka Rushbrook dereka@u.arizona.edu, 520-626-9820.

Courses listed under each requirement may not be available in every semester. Courses listed for each requirement may not include all options and substitutions from appropriate disciplines will be considered (GEOS, RNR, SWES, ENGR, etc) with advisor approval.  Please see the Academic Catalog for a complete course listing.

1. Environmental Social Science 1, 1 course (3 units)

EVS 260 Environmental Studies: Ideas and Institutions

2. Environmental Social Science 2, 1 course (3 units)

Choose either GEOG 250 Environment and Society in the Southwest Borderlands, GEOG 256 Sustainable Cities,  OR HIST 247 Nature and Technology in U.S. History

3. Environmental Science, 2 courses (6 units)

GEOG 220 (Our Diverse Biosphere); GEOG 230 (Our Changing Climate); GEOG 240 (Our Dynamic Landscape), ENVS 200 (Soils) or other approved course selected in consultation with faculty advisor

4. GIS/Remote Sensing, 1 course (3 units)

GEOG 222 (Fundamental Geographic Techniques), 330 (Intro to Remote Sensing), 416A (Computer Cartography), 416C (Urban Geographic Information Systems), 416D (PPGIS), 416E (Geovisualization), 417 (GIS for Natural & Social Sciences), 419 (Cartographic Modeling for Natural Resources), 420 (Advanced GIS), 422 (Resource Mapping), 483 Geographic Applications of Remote Sensing), 490 (Remote Sensing for Study of Planet Earth)

5. Methods, 1 course (3 units)

GEOG 303 (Field Study in Environmental Geography), 357 (Geographical Research Methods), 457 (Statistical Techniques), or any of the courses listed for GIS/Remote Sensing, Internship (3 units)(GEOG 393)

6. Environmental Social Science and Policy, 4 courses (12 units), at least one course must have international/global focus (denoted with *)

AIS 441A (Natural Resource Management in Native Communities), ANTH 307 (Ecological Anthropology), *ANTH 331 (Anthropology & Development), ANTH 347 (Native Peoples of the Southwest), ANTH 418 (Southwest Land & Society), *ANTH 424A (Political Ecology), AREC 350 (Economics, Ethics and Environmental Management), AREC 473 (Energy Markets and Environmental Economics), AREC 476 (Environmental Law & Economics), GEOG 302 (Intro to Sustainable Development), GEOG 304 (Water, Environment & Society), *GEOG 362 (Environment and Development, formerly GEOG 462),  GEOG 374 (Geog, Social Justice, and Environment), GEOG 404 (Politics of Nature), GEOG 408 (Arizona & Southwest), GEOG 461 (Environmental & Resource Geography), GEOG 468 (Water & Sustainability), GEOG 478 (Global Change), GEOG 488 (Governing Science & Technology), HIST 355 (U.S. Environmental History), *HIST 356 (Global Environmental History),  JNL 472 (Science Journalism), PHIL 323 (Environmental Ethics), PLG 301 (Intro to Regional Planning), PLG 401A (Intro to Planning), PLG 459 (Land Use & Growth Controls), PLG 472 (Environmental Land Use Planning), PLG 497S (New Urbanism & Sustainability in the Southwest), POL 481 (Environmental Policy), if there is space available for non-POL/PA majors, RELI 360 (Religion & Ecology), RNR 351 (Ecosystem Services), RNR 384 (Natural Resources Management Practices), RNR 480 (Natural Resources Policy & Law).

8. Environmental Science / Physical Geography, 1 course (3 units)

ATMO 336, GEOG 430 (Climate System); GEOG 438 (Biogeography); most 300- and 400-level courses in ECOL, RNR, SWES, WSM and WFSC will meet the requirement (the course must must be approved by the faculty advisor as not all of these courses are Environmental Science)

9. Capstone, 1 course (3 units)

GEOG 404 (Politics of Nature), GEOG 408 (Arizona & the Southwest), GEOG 498 (Capstone)



Best Introductory (Tier1) Courses

INDV103/GEOG 150C1 Environment and Society

NATS 101/GC 170A1 Introduction to Global Change

NATS 101/SWES 170A1 Introduction to Environmental Science

TRAD 104/RNR 160D1 Wildlife, Conservation and American Culture


Learning Outcomes and Careers

Students taking the BA in Environmental Studies will

  • Gain a full breadth of knowledge in the field of Environmental Studies.
  • Understand concepts required for success in an environmental profession.
  • Understand human dimensions of environmental issues.
  • Be able to analyze environmental and natural resources policy.
  • Understand theories of human-environment relationships, political economy of environment, and environmental justice.
  • Understand relationships between human activities and environmental/health sustainability. Understand causes and effects of regional and global environmental change.
  • Acquire the methodological skills required to act successfully

Students with a B.A. in environmental studies have life skills that enhance their own quality of life (e.g. in terms of appreciation for nature, sustainable living, informed engagement in civic life) and seek careers in the private sector, government, or education that focus on environmental quality.

There are a wide range of career opportunities for students with degrees in environmental studies.  Alumni reports from similar degree programs elsewhere (e.g. Brown University, UC-Santa Barbara and UC-Santa Cruz) and surveys of job trends suggest that students with a BA in Environmental Studies find employment in environmental consulting, journalism, law, real estate, and planning, with significant numbers of jobs in teaching at all levels and with private companies (e.g. energy, retail, tourism), non-profits, and government (see list of books below). Many environmental studies undergraduates go on to higher degrees.

Green Careers: Choosing Work for a Sustainable Future, by J. Cassio and A. Rush, 2009.

Careers for Environmental Types and Others Who Respect the Earth by Mike Fasulo and Jane Kinney, 2002.

Earth Work by the Student Conservation Association, 1994.

The Eco Guide to Careers that Make a Difference by the Environmental Careers Organization, 2004.

Great Jobs for Environmental Studies Majors by Julie DeGalan and Bryon Middlekauff, 2002.

Opportunities in Environmental Careers by Odom Fanning, 2002.

Working with the Environment by Tim Ryder & Deborah Penrith, 2004.


Environment at University of Arizona


University of Arizona has more than 300 faculty and research professionals working in the environmental arena, including those professors who teach courses for the BA in Environmental Studies.  You can find out more about the faculty as well as many other environmental activities at the university from the Environment and Sustainability Portal and the web site of the Institute of the Environment where you can get information on public talks, grant and internship opportunities etc.


Green Course Guide

The Institute of the Environment maintains a list of environmental courses generally offered at UA