Environmental Studies Program


The Environmental Studies Program offers interdisciplinary majors in environmental policy, environmental science, and environmental computation as well as a minor that can be elected by majors in any discipline

The Environmental Studies Program at Colby was founded in 1971 and has received national recognition for its innovative, research-based curriculum that engages students with complex environmental issues at Colby, in Maine, and around the world. The program encourages and supports student environmental initiatives and activism. Examples of student-led environmental initiatives include establishing an organic gardening club, organizing activities to reduce carbon emissions on campus, developing a climate change action plan in the local community, organizing climate strikes, and raising awareness about the dangers of using hazardous chemicals at the state and federal levels. Resources are available to support student internships, research experiences, and initiatives. A majority of students study abroad. 

We are committed to a curriculum that engages students in learning about environmental justice and environmental racism, as well as listening, responding to, and amplifying perspectives from vulnerable and marginalized communities. We greatly value diversity among our students, and we are committed to strengthening diversity in environmental studies.

A strategic partnership between Colby and the Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences has expanded educational and research opportunities in marine sciences for students. The partnership includes a semester of study in residence at Bigelow, on-campus courses taught by Bigelow research scientists, student research opportunities, and curricular innovations that combine scientific research with economic and social policy analysis.

The Environmental Studies Program curriculum emphasizes inquiry-based learning and original research. Each major provides a broad-based course of study that combines interdisciplinary breadth and focus-area depth to prepare graduates to understand and to address complex environmental challenges. Each major is flexible and enables students to pursue their individual academic goals and interests.  The interdisciplinary nature of our curriculum is enhanced by close ties to many departments and programs in the natural sciences, social sciences, humanities, and other interdisciplinary programs. Our curriculum benefits from our Maine location, including access to diverse natural areas and unique access to government, research, nonprofit, and business institutions. Our graduates are prepared to take leadership positions in businesses, nonprofits, consulting firms, educational institutions, and government agencies. Many of our graduates complete postgraduate or professional study in environmental sciences/studies/management, ecology, limnology, international development, law, marine science and oceanography, medicine, natural resource conservation and management, planning, public health, public policy, and other related areas.

A student may elect only one of the majors offered by the Environmental Studies Program. A student cannot elect both the chemistry: environmental science concentration and an environmental science major with an environmental chemistry focus.

Faculty

Director,  Associate Professor Denise Bruesewitz
Associate Director,  Assistant Professor Justin Becknell

Program Faculty and Staff: Professors Whitney King (Chemistry) and Philip NyhusAssociate Professors Denise Bruesewitz, and Karena McKinney (Chemistry); Assistant Professors Alison Bates, Justin Becknell, Gail Carlson, Stacy-ann Robinson, and Christopher Walker (English); Visiting Assistant Professors Meg Boyle, Amanda Gallinat, and Torrance Hanley; Laboratory Instructor II Abby Pearson; Program Coordinator Lindsey Cotter; Research Scientist Manuel Gimond;  Administrative Assistant Leslie Lima.

Affiliated Faculty and Staff: Professors Catherine Bevier (Biology), Michael Burke (English/Creative Writing), Michael Donihue (Economics), Mary Ellis Gibson (English), Mary Beth Mills (Anthropology), Tanya Sheehan (Art), and Judy Stone (Biology); Associate Professors Keith Peterson (Philosophy) and Hong Zhang (East Asian Studies); Assistant Professors Allison Barner (Biology), Greg Drozd (Chemistry), Bess Koffman (Geology), Benjamin D. Lisle (American Studies), Jennifer Meredith (Economics), Chris Moore (Biology), Aleja Ortiz (Geology), and Matthew Schneider-Mayerson (English); Visiting Assistant Professor Bruce Rueger (Geology); Senior Lab Instructor in Biology Teaching Associate Sarah Gibbs Staffiere (Biology); Bigelow Senior Scientists Pete Countway, David Emerson, Nichole Price, Doug Rasher,  and Benjamin Twining.


Requirements +

Requirements for the Major in Environmental Policy

The interdisciplinary environmental policy major provides an extensive introduction to the study of U.S. and international environmental policy. Students combine a foundation course in environmental studies with core courses in environmental economics, U.S. environmental policy and law, international environmental policy and politics, statistics, and ecology. Diverse electives allow students to explore topics such as introductory geographic information systems (GIS), conservation biology, climate change adaptation, energy, environmental justice, marine and freshwater and forest ecosystems, public health, and the environmental humanities.

Environmental policy majors are encouraged to take Environmental Studies 118 (spring) and Biology 163 (fall) and 164 (spring) in their first year at Colby. Students pursuing this major should elect Environmental Studies 233 and 271 (if possible) in the fall and ES234 in the spring of their sophomore year. Students must complete at least one course at the 300 level or above from category III below. No more than one course at the 100 level may be used to fulfill category III. No requirement for the major may be taken satisfactory/unsatisfactory. AP credit can fulfill core course requirements based on exam performance and coverage. Exemption from Environmental Studies 118 is granted with an AP test score of 4 or 5, allowing advanced placement into other courses. Courses not listed below, such as those offered by some off-campus study programs, may count toward the major pending prior approval by the program director. Up to two courses may be counted toward the major from approved semester-long off-campus study programs.

Environmental policy majors are encouraged to work with their advisor to develop a curricular pathway that includes both depth and breadth of study. Recommended thematic groupings selected from electives in category III and category IV below include: conservation and resources, energy and climate, environmental humanities, environmental justice, public health, and water resources. See the Environmental Studies Program website for details on suggested courses for these groupings. Students are welcome to develop additional thematic pathways (e.g., green building, urban and regional planning, food and agriculture).

I. Required Environmental Studies Core Courses

Biology

  • 163 Cellular Basis of Life
  • 164 Evolution and Diversity

Environmental Studies

  • 118 Environment and Society
  • 271 Introduction to Ecology

Economics

  • 133 Principles of Microeconomics
  • 231 Environmental and Natural Resource Economics

II. All of the Following Courses

Environmental Studies

  • 233 Environmental Policy
  • 234 International Environmental Policy

Statistics

  • 212 Introduction to Statistical Methods

III. Humans and the Environment (three courses, at least two from environmental studies)

Anthropology

  • 256 Land, Food, Culture, and Power

East Asian Studies

  • 242 Development and Environmental Issues in Contemporary China

English

  • 120 Inventing Nature in New England
  • 337 Climate Fiction

Environmental Studies

  • 120  Ecology and Natural History in Maine
  • 151 Landscape and Meaning: An Exploration of Environmental Writing
  • 212 Introduction to GIS and Remote Sensing (if not used to satisfy IV below) or
  • 214 Introduction to GIS and Spatial Analysis (if not used to satisfy IV below)
  • 236 Agroecosystems
  • 238 Renewable Energy Systems
  • 239 Seafood Forensics
  • 242 Marine Conservation and Policy
  • 265 Global Public Health
  • 276 Global Change Ecology (if not used to satisfy IV below)
  • 283 Environmental Humanities: Stories of Crisis & Resilience
  • 297 Sustainable International Food Systems
  • 323 Sustainability Science: From Theory to Practice
  • 326  International Climate and Environmental Justice
  • 319 Conservation Biology (if not used to satisfy IV below)
  • 325 Environmental Justice
  • 341 Community, Economics, and Conservation
  • 344 Marine Fisheries Management
  • 346 Global Food Policy
  • 350 Another World is Possible: Ecotopian Visions
  • 357 Literature and Environment
  • 398 Social Sciences Methods in Environmental Studies

History

  • 248 Nuclear Visions, Environmental Realities
  • 348 U.S. Environmental History

Philosophy

  • 216 Philosophy of Nature
  • 243 Environmental Ethics
  • 328 Radical Ecologies

Religious Studies

  • 298 American Spirituality and the Environment

Science, Technology, and Society

  • 215 Weather, Climate, and Society

IV. Three of the Following Courses (at least one from environmental studies)

Biology

  • 198 Biochemistry of Food
  • 211 Taxonomy of Flowering Plants
  • 225 Immunology
  • 237 Woody Plants
  • 246 Parasitology
  • 259 Plants of the Tropics
  • 275 Human Physiology
  • 277 Vertebrate Natural History
  • 328 Community Ecology
  • 334 Ornithology
  • 382 Population Modeling

Chemistry

  • 121 and 122 Earth System Chemistry I and II or
  • 141 and 142 General Chemistry I and II or
  • 147 Comprehensive General Chemistry (cannot be counted with Chemistry 121 and 122 or 141 and 142)
  • 217 Environmental Chemistry
  • 261 Chemistry of Aqueous Environments
  • 263 Atmospheric Chemistry
  • 331 Chemical Methods of Analysis
  • 341 Physical Chemistry
  • 351 Environmental Chemical Analysis
  • 452 Problems in Chemical Analysis

Economics

  • 278 Joules to Dollars
  • 343 Environment and Development

Environmental Studies

  • 212 Introduction to GIS and Remote Sensing or
  • 214 Introduction to GIS and Spatial Analysis
  • 218 Exploratory Data Analysis in R
  • 236 Agroecosystems
  • 238 Renewable Energy Systems
  • 244 Marine Communities
  • 276 Global Change Ecology
  • 319 Conservation Biology
  • 323 Sustainability Science: From Theory to Practice
  • 338 Forest Ecosystems
  • 345 Offshore Energy: Environmental Permits and Community Planning
  • 356 Aquatic Ecology
  • 358 Ecological Field Study
  • 366 Environment and Human Health
  • 371 Current Topics in Environmental Science
  • 398 Conservation Paleobiology

Geology

  • 12X One Introductory Geology course or
  • 254 Earth Surface Processes
  • 262 Earth’s Climate: Past, Present, and Future
  • 363 Paleoceanography
  • 378 Geologic Environments in the Marine Realm
  • 398 Tropical Islands and Ecogeomorphology

Physics

  • 141 Foundations of Mechanics or
  • 143 Honors Physics
  • 145 Foundations of Electromagnetism and Optics

V. One of the Following Capstone Courses

Environmental Studies

  • 493 Environmental Policy Practicum or
  • 494 Environmental Science Research Experience (with permission of director)

VI. Senior Colloquia

Environmental Studies

  • 401, 402 Senior Colloquium (one credit for the year)

Environmental Studies 401 (fall semester) and 402 (spring semester) provide one credit for the senior year and typically are taken in addition to a normal four-course semester.

Students are strongly encouraged to participate in relevant on- and off-campus opportunities, including research projects, public policy and/or humanities experiences, field studies, civic engagement, or internships in the discipline to complement their academic work. Environmental studies majors may apply for Environmental Studies Program financial assistance to participate in relevant research or internship opportunities. These opportunities can be discussed with the ES Program Coordinator, academic advisors, or the ES Program Director.

Requirements for the Major in Environmental Science

The interdisciplinary environmental science major includes foundation courses and core courses in biology and ecology, chemistry or physics, geology or GIS, mathematics, and environmental economics. Students select a focus area to explore in depth. Focus areas include aquatic sciences (freshwater and marine), conservation biology, ecosystem ecology, energy and climate, and public health. Students may also petition the Environmental Studies Program director to propose well-structured alternative focus areas. The senior capstone course provides a hands-on approach to environmental science research in local freshwater, marine, or forest ecosystems.

Environmental science majors are encouraged to enroll in Biology 163 (fall) and 164 (spring) and Environmental Studies 118 (spring) in their first year, and Environmental Science 271 (fall) in their sophomore year. Students should also take chemistry (CH121/122 or CH141/142 or CH147) in their first or second year. Students interested in the environmental science major with a marine science focus should consider the Bigelow Laboratory Changing Oceans semester program in their junior year. 

Majors must complete at least two courses at the 300 level or above selected from categories III and IV below. No more than one course at the 100 level may be used to fulfill category III. No requirement for the major may be taken satisfactory/unsatisfactory. AP credits may provide advanced placement in biology, chemistry, physics, calculus, and microeconomics. Environmental science majors should consult with their advisor as early as their first year at Colby to identify any courses beyond the major requirements that may be desirable to meet their postgraduate goals, especially graduate or professional school. Courses not listed below, such as those offered by some off-campus study programs, may count toward the major pending prior approval by the program director. Up to two courses may be counted toward the major from approved semester-long off-campus study programs.

I. Required Environmental Studies Core Courses

Biology

  • 163 Cellular Basis of Life
  • 164 Evolution and Diversity

Environmental Studies

  • 118 Environment and Society
  • 271 Introduction to Ecology

Economics

  • 133 Principles of Microeconomics
  • 231 Environmental and Natural Resource Economics

II. Required Science and Mathematics Courses

Chemistry

  • 121 and 122 Earth System Chemistry I and II or
  • 141 and 142 General Chemistry I and II or
  • 147 Comprehensive General Chemistry

OR

Physics

  • 141 Foundations of Mechanics or 143 Honors Physics and
  • 145 Foundations in Electromagnetism and Optics

Geology

  • 121 and 122 Earth System Chemistry I and II or
  • 12X An Introductory Geology course or
  • 161 Introduction to Ocean Science
    Note: The two-semester Chemistry/Geology 121 and 122 sequence can replace the requirement to take two chemistry and one geology/GIS course.

OR

Environmental Studies

  • 212 Introduction to GIS and Remote Sensing or 
  • 214 Introduction to GIS and Spatial Analysis

Mathematics and Statistics

  • Mathematics: Any four-credit calculus class numbered MA 120 or above and
  • Statistics 212 Elementary Statistics

Students electing the energy and climate focus area are encouraged to also take a four-credit calculus class numbered MA 160 or above.

III. Humans and the Environment (two courses, not taken from the same discipline unless that discipline is environmental studies, at least one course from Environmental Studies)

Anthropology

  • 256 Land, Food, Culture, and Power

East Asian Studies

  • 242 Development and Environmental Issues in Contemporary China

English

  • 337 Climate Fiction

Environmental Studies

  • 120  Ecology and Natural History in Maine
  • 151 Landscape and Meaning
  • 212 Introduction to GIS and Remote Sensing Studies (if not used to satisfy II above) or
  • 214 Introduction to GIS and Spatial Analysis (if not used to satisfy II above)
  • 233 Environmental Policy
  • 234 International Environmental Policy
  • 236 Agroecosystems
  • 238 Renewable Energy Systems
  • 239 Seafood Forensics
  • 242 Marine Conservation and Policy
  • 265 Global Public Health
  • 276 Global Change Ecology
  • 283 Environmental Humanities: Stories of Crisis & Resilience
  • 297 Sustainable International Food Systems
  • 319 Conservation Biology
  • 323 Sustainability Science: From Theory to Practice
  • 325 Environmental Justice
  • ​​326  International Climate and Environmental Justice 
  • 341 Community, Economics, and Conservation
  • 344 Marine Fisheries Management
  • 345 Offshore Energy: Environmental Permits and Community Planning
  • 350 Another World is Possible: Ecotopian Visions
  • 357 Literature and Environment
  • 358 Ecological Field Study
  • 364 Climate Change, Justice, and Health
  • 366 Environment and Human Health
  • 397B Community, Economics, and Conservation

History

  • 248 Nuclear Visions, Environmental Realities
  • 348 U.S. Environmental History

Philosophy

  • 216 Philosophy of Nature
  • 243 Environmental Ethics
  • 328 Radical Ecologies

Religious Studies

  • 298 American Spirituality and the Environment

Science, Technology, and Society

  • 215 Weather, Climate, and Society

IV. Focus Area (four courses, depending on the focus area chosen, and an additional culminating experience chosen in consultation with advisor)

The Environmental Studies Program will consider well-structured proposals for alternative focus areas. Advanced Placement credits can provide advanced placement in focus areas but cannot reduce the number of required focus-area courses below four.

A. Aquatic Sciences (Freshwater and Marine) (four courses)

Environmental Studies

  • 244 Marine Communities
  • 356 Aquatic Ecology

Two Courses from the following:

Biology

  • 328 Community Ecology
  • 354 Marine Ecology

Chemistry

  • 217 Environmental Chemistry
  • 261 Aqueous Environmental Chemistry
  • 351 Environmental Chemical Analysis
  • 261 Chemistry of Aqueous Environments
  • 331 Chemical Methods of Analysis

Environmental Studies

  • 212 Introduction to GIS and Remote Sensing or 214 Introduction to GIS and Spatial Analysis or 218 Exploratory Data Analysis in R
  • 239 Seafood Forensics (if not used to satisfy II above)
  • 276 Global Change Ecology (if not used to satisfy II above)
  • 344 Marine Fisheries Management
  • 358 Ecological Field Study

The Bigelow Laboratory Changing Oceans semester program will fulfill three courses in the Aquatic Sciences focus area.

B. Climate and Energy (four courses)

Environmental Studies

  • 276 Global Change Ecology
  • 238 Renewable Energy Systems
  • 323 Sustainability Science: From Theory to Practice

Chemistry

  • 217 Environmental Chemistry

OR

Economics

  • 278 Joules to Dollars

Two Courses from the following:

Biology

  • 382 Population Modeling

Chemistry

  • 241 Organic Chemistry I
  • 242 Organic Chemistry II
  • 217 Environmental Chemistry (if not used above)
  • 263 Atmospheric Chemistry
  • 278 Joules to Dollars (if not used above)
  • 331 Chemical Methods of Analysis
  • 341 Physical Chemistry: Thermodynamics and Kinetics
  • 342 Physical Chemistry: Quantum and Statistical Mechanics
  • 351 Environmental Chemical Analysis
  • 452 Problems in Chemical Analysis

Environmental Studies

  • 218 Exploratory Data Analysis in R
  • 236 Agroecosystems
  • 345 Offshore Energy: Environmental Permits and Community Planning
  • 364 Climate Change, Justice and Health

Geology

  • 254 Earth Surface Processes
  • 262 Earth’s Climate: Past, Present, and Future
  • 363 Paleoceanography
  • 398 Tropical Islands and Ecogeomorphology

Physics

  • 312 Physics of Fluids

The Bigelow Laboratory Changing Oceans semester program will fulfill up to two courses in the Climate and Energy focus area.


C. Conservation Biology (four courses)

Environmental Studies

  • 319 Conservation Biology
  • 338 Forest Ecosystems

Two Courses from the following:

Biology

  • 211 Taxonomy of Flowering Plants
  • 237 Woody Plants
  • 259 Plants of the Tropics
  • 277 Vertebrate Natural History
  • 328 Community Ecology
  • 334 Ornithology
  • 354 Marine Ecology
  • 382 Population Modeling

Environmental Studies

  • 212 Introduction to GIS and Remote Sensing or
  • 214 Introduction to GIS and Spatial Analysis (if not used to satisfy II above)
  • 218 Exploratory Data Analysis in R
  • 236 Agroecosystems
  • 242 Marine Conservation and Policy
  • 244 Marine Communities
  • 323 Sustainability Science: From Theory to Practice
  • 356 Aquatic Ecology
  • 358 Ecological Field Study
  • 398 Conservation Paleobiology

D. Ecosystem Ecology (four courses)

Environmental Studies

  • 276 Global Change Ecology
  • 338 Forest Ecosystems

Two Courses from the following:

Biology

  • 382 Population Modeling

Chemistry

  • 217 Environmental Chemistry
  • 261 Aqueous Environmental Chemistry
  • 331 Chemical Methods of Analysis
  • 351 Environmental Chemical Analysis
  • 452 Problems in Chemical Analysis

Economics

  • 278 Joules to Dollars

Environmental Studies

  • 218 Exploratory Data Analysis in R
  • 2xx Agroecosystems
  • 244 Marine Communities
  • 356 Aquatic Ecology

Geology

  • 254 Earth Surface Processes
  • 262 Earth’s Climate: Past, Present, and Future
  • 363 Paleoceanography

E. Public Health (four courses)

Environmental Studies

  • 265 Global Public Health
  • 366 Environment and Human Health

Two Courses from the following:

Biochemistry

  • 362 Medical Biochemistry or
  • 367 Biochemistry of the Cell I

Biology

  • 225 Immunology
  • 246 Parasitology
  • 275 Mammalian Physiology
  • 278 Biomedical Genomics and Bioinformatics
  • 348 Pathogenic Bacteriology

Chemistry

  • 241 Organic Chemistry I

Environmental Studies

  • 212 Introduction to GIS and Remote Sensing or 214 Introduction to GIS and Spatial Analysis (if not used to satisfy II above) or 218 Exploratory Data Analysis in R
  • 325 Environmental Justice
  • 364 Climate Change, Justice and Health

Statistics

  • 306 Topics in Epidemiology

V. One of the following Capstone Courses

Environmental Studies

  • 494 Environmental Science Research Experience or
  • 493 Environmental Policy Practicum (with permission of director)

 

Guidelines for Counting Bigelow Courses toward major requirements 

Environmental Science majors with a focus area in aquatic sciences or energy and climate who successfully complete the Bigelow semester program may apply three courses from the Bigelow semester toward the major as follows:

  • Three of the four courses towards the focus area OR
  • Two courses toward the focus area and one as a replacement for ES494. If this option is selected, students must submit a scientific paper on their independent research project with the guidance of their Bigelow research advisor to their Environmental Studies Program academic advisor and the Environmental Studies Program director for approval at least one week prior to registration for fall classes in the prior spring semester. 
  1. Senior Colloquia

Environmental Studies

  • 401, 402 Senior Colloquium (one credit for the year)

Environmental Studies 401 and 402 provide one credit for the senior year and typically are taken in addition to a normal four-course semester.

Students are encouraged to consider field courses offered by Colby or other approved programs. Students are strongly encouraged to participate in research experiences, field studies, or internships in the discipline to complement their academic work. Environmental studies majors may apply for Environmental Studies Program financial assistance to participate in relevant research or internship opportunities. These opportunities can be discussed with the ES program coordinator, academic advisors, or the ES program director.

Requirements for the Major in Environmental Studies Computation

The interdisciplinary major in environmental computation provides an introduction to environmental studies as a discipline as well as training in computational techniques used in environmental policy and science. Students become familiar with quantitative tools used to investigate environmental problems. The major is designed to provide students with proficiency in computational thinking, the analysis and understanding of environmental systems, challenges, and solutions, and in the design and implementation of algorithms for modeling and analysis. Students gain experience applying computational thinking and statistical methods to a diverse spectrum of topics in environmental studies and are introduced to the complexity of coupled human and natural systems and diverse computational methods. Diverse electives allow students to explore environmental topics in depth, including agriculture and food, conservation science, energy and climate, environmental humanities, marine and freshwater conservation, and public health.

Students interested in this major are encouraged to take Environmental Studies 118 (spring) in their first year, Computer Science 151 or 152 or 153, and 231 (fall or spring), and 251 or 252 (spring) in their first year, and one or more Environmental Studies electives in their second year. No requirement for the major may be taken satisfactory/unsatisfactory. Advanced Placement credits can fulfill core course requirements based on exam performance and coverage. Exemption from Environmental Studies 118 is granted with an AP test score of 4 or 5, allowing advanced placement into other courses. Courses not listed below, such as those offered by some off-campus study programs, may count toward the major pending approval of the program director. Up to two courses may be counted toward the major from approved off-campus study programs. Courses counted in one section cannot also be counted in another section (e.g., a 200-level Environmental Studies courses used as a Foundational Course cannot also be counted as an Application Course).

Students should consult with the Environmental Studies Program director or their Computer Science advisor when planning their course of study, including capstone experience.

I. Required Foundational Courses (four courses)

Computer Science

  • 151 Computational Thinking: Visual Media or
  • 152 Computational Thinking: Science (recommended) or
  • 153 Computational Thinking: Smart Systems and
  • 231 Data Structures and Algorithms

Environmental Studies

  • 118 Environment and Society and
  • One 200-level course (e.g., 233, 234, 242, 244, 265, 271, 276, 283)

II. Required Modeling and Analysis Courses (four courses)

Computer Science

  • 321 Software Engineering
  • 251 Data Analysis and Visualization or 252 Mathematical Data Analysis and Visualization and one from the following: 
  • 330 Database Design, Development, and Deployment
  • 341 Systems Biology or
  • 343 Neural Networks or
  • 346 Modeling and Simulation or
  • 365 Computer Vision
  • or other course approved by advisor

Environmental Studies

  • 212 Introduction to GIS and Remote Sensing or
  • 214 Introduction to GIS and Spatial Analysis

Mathematics and Statistics

  • Statistics 212 Introduction to Statistical Methods or
  • Mathematics, any four-credit calculus class numbered MA 160 or above

III. Application Courses (five courses)

Five courses selected from the following:

Computer Science

At least one and up to two courses at the 300 level or above

Environmental Studies

At least three and up to four courses not also counted elsewhere to provide depth in an application area. Recommended application groupings include: conservation and resources (e.g., 319, 338, 344), ecosystem ecology (e.g., 276, 366), energy and climate (e.g., 217, 276, 3XX), environmental justice (e.g., 364, 325), public health (e.g., 265, 364, 366), and water resources (marine and freshwater) (e.g., 242, 244, 356). Courses from the Bigelow Semester can count toward this requirement; up to two courses from study abroad can be counted toward this requirement with prior approval from the director of the Environmental Studies Program. At least one course must be at the 300 level.

Mathematics and Statistics

One course selected from the following

  • Statistics
    • 321 Statistical Modeling
  • Mathematics
    • 253 Linear Algebra
    • 262 Vector Calculus
    • 311 Ordinary Differential Equations
    • 332 Numerical Analysis

IV. Culminating Experience

Environmental Studies

  • 401, 402 Environmental Studies Colloquium (one credit for the year)

One capstone selected from the following determined in consultation with the student’s advisor:

  • Computer Science 4xx or
  • Environmental Studies 493 Environmental Policy Practicum or
  • Environmental Studies 494 Research Experience in Environmental Science

Environmental studies 401 and 402 provide one credit for the senior year and typically are taken in addition to a normal four-course semester.

Students are strongly encouraged to participate in relevant on- and off-campus opportunities, including research projects, civic engagement, internships, field studies, and other opportunities to complement their academic work. Environmental Studies majors may apply for Environmental Studies Program financial assistance to participate in relevant research or internship opportunities.

Environmental Studies 401 and 402 provide one credit for the senior year and typically are taken in addition to a normal four-course semester. Environmental studies majors may apply for Environmental Studies Program financial assistance to participate in relevant research or internship opportunities.

Requirements for Honors in Environmental Studies

Environmental studies majors with a minimum cumulative grade point average of 3.7 at the end of the January Term of the junior year or with special program approval are eligible to apply for the Environmental Studies Honors Research Program. Interested students should contact a faculty sponsor during the spring semester of the junior year to discuss a project. Students who are studying abroad in the spring should try to make initial contact with a potential sponsor in the spring via email, but may complete their proposal in the fall at the beginning of the academic year. If the faculty sponsor and the program director approve a proposed project, students will register for ES483 (Honors Project) in the fall semester and Jan Plan. During the fall, students must write a thesis proposal, have it approved by the environmental studies faculty, and make progress on their research. Students approved by the environmental studies program will continue their research during the spring semester in Environmental Studies 484 (Honors Project). A maximum of eight credits for honors research is allowed for the entire year. Additional details are provided on the Environmental Studies Program web page.

Students enrolled in Environmental Studies 493 or 494 may petition the program to expand their independent study for these courses into an honors project to be conducted in January and the spring semester.

Successful completion of the honors program will include an approved thesis, an oral presentation at the Colby Liberal Arts Symposium, a successful thesis defense, and the completion of the required coursework for the major. Students fulfilling these requirements will graduate with “Honors in Environmental Studies.” In cases where requirements for honors have not been fulfilled at the end of the spring semester, Environmental Studies 483 and 484 (Honors Research) will revert to a graded Environmental Studies 491/291/492 (Independent Study).

Requirements for the Minor in Environmental Studies

The environmental studies (ES) minor allows students from all areas of study to explore environmental issues. With the ES minor, students engage in cross-disciplinary thinking and have the flexibility to choose courses that complement their interests. AP credit in a relevant subject allows advanced placement, but it does not reduce the number of courses required for the minor. Students who receive an AP 4 or 5 for environmental science do not have to take Environmental Studies 118 but must take an additional ES course at the 200-300 level.

Requirements are

  • ES118
  • Four ES courses at the 200-300 level. At least one must be a 300-level course, and students may include one environmentally focused course from another department, program, or from an approved study abroad program by petition to the ES minor advisor.