University of Southern California
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Environmental Studies

Allan Hancock Foundation 209
(213) 740-7770
FAX: 740-8566

Director: James F. Haw, Ph.D.

Undergraduate Programs

The Environmental Studies program offers students either a B.A. or B.S. degree. Within each degree there are three concentrations, all built upon a central, interdisciplinary 48 unit core. The common core has three sets of components. Courses taught by environmental studies faculty provide opportunities for environmental studies majors to meet as a group throughout their undergraduate experience. A set of social science core courses focuses on environmental problems from political, legal, economic and international perspectives. Specially designed one-semester surveys of biology, earth science and chemistry provide the natural science competency for subsequent policy or science advanced course work in environmental studies. The latter courses are taught to focused student populations including those who have secondary school preparations emphasizing social sciences more than the natural sciences. The three concentrations are: sustainability, energy and society; oceans, life and people; and climate, earth and environment. Each concentration culminates in the capstone experience of a senior seminar focusing on environmental problem-solving by interdisciplinary teams.

The Environmental Studies program emphasizes the interdisciplinary nature of environmental problems. Some of the major courses are team-taught by faculty with complementary backgrounds in science and policy. A number of opportunities are provided for field studies from the urban Los Angeles environment to marine protected areas on the coasts of the California Channel Islands. More intensive field study opportunities include “Problems Without Passports” courses with international components, the Santa Catalina Island semester and selected School for Field Studies programs abroad. Consult the environmental studies academic advisor for selection of School for Field Studies programs or other study abroad opportunities that best fit the student’s concentration and provide for substitution of major credit. Note that some of the field studies opportunities require travel to remote, rural locations and study under sometimes physically and mentally demanding conditions. These trips require a willingness to conform to the announced guidelines for conduct and safety.

All undergraduate Environmental Studies majors should complete at least 24 units of the core curriculum before attaining junior status. This should include satisfactory completion of at least two of the natural science core courses, ENST 100 and the statistics course.

Graduate Programs

The Master of Arts degree program in environmental studies is also interdisciplinary and focuses on public policy and its related facets. Those who graduate with an M.A. in environmental studies are well prepared to pursue careers in policy, planning or management in the public, private or nonprofit sector in either this country or abroad. In addition, the curriculum provides students with a foundation for acquiring a Ph.D. in environmental studies or a related field, or a law degree. Individuals who are already employed in the pollution control and remediation field will find the M.A. degree attractive as well. Upon completion of the graduate program, students will possess extensive knowledge of environmental science, environmental statistics and economics, law and regulation, policy and planning, development and economic growth, and global issues and problems.

The Master of Science degree in environmental risk analysis focuses on providing advanced professional training for students with a B.S. degree in natural sciences or engineering. Students will pursue a core program encompassing science, engineering and finance supplemented with important skills courses in risk assessment, statistics and computer modeling and simulations. Those who graduate with the M.S. degree will be well prepared to pursue professional careers in business and industry, which build on their degrees in the natural sciences. This degree will produce individuals with the analytical and problem-solving skills of natural scientists combined with the necessary training in finance and management needed in the business world.

Catalina Semester

This expanded program is specifically designed for both environmental studies and biological sciences majors and for students in any field who want to minor in environmental studies. The semester is sponsored by the USC Wrigley Institute for Environmental Studies and held at USC’s Philip K. Wrigley Marine Science Center on Catalina Island each fall and spring semester. The courses are taught by USC faculty and are specialized to take advantage of the unique facilities and settings of Catalina Island. Students generally enroll in 16 units. Students will live on Catalina Island for the entire semester, and transportation back to the mainland is generally available on the weekends. Rates for room and board at the USC Wrigley Marine Science Center are comparable to those on campus. For more information, students should contact their advisor or the USC Wrigley Institute Offices at Alan Hancock Foundation 410 on the University Park campus, (213) 740-6780.