Curriculum Requirements

Environmental Science is the study of interrelationships between human activities and the environment. Environmental Science is an unusual academic discipline in that it requires scientific knowledge about the natural world, as well as an understanding about ways in which humans interact with the natural world. We examine effects of human actions on the environment, and the means by which policies, regulations, and decisions influence human actions. We also examine human behavioral, cultural, and sociological interactions that affect the environment. Thus, the department is truly interdisciplinary and exemplifies the liberal arts approach to education.

Two majors are offered in the department: Environmental Science and Environmental Studies. Core courses in the Environmental Science major include biology, chemistry, geology, and mathematics. Upper-level courses synthesize and integrate basic sciences and apply that knowledge to analysis and solutions of current environmental problems. Upper-level courses are rich in lab and field experiences.

With a strong emphasis in biology, geology, and chemistry, Environmental Science majors are likely to pursue graduate studies and careers in field, laboratory, or applied science settings. Students typically work and study at research institutions, regulatory agencies, or private consulting firms that highlight environmental quality. Science major prepares students to work in terrestrial, marine, or aquatic arenas, land use assessment, agriculture, forestry, resource management, or pollution assessment and control.

The objective of the Environmental Studies major is to study the concept of sustainability in an integrated way, including environmental, economic, and social aspects, exploring both desirable future conditions and the transitions needed to reach them. The basic tenet of the Environmental Studies major is that progress toward a sustainable future depends on the creative application of interdisciplinary thinking, spanning disciplines across the traditional college divisions, while striving for both depth and breadth. We seek to inspire creativity and combine passion with critical thinking skills in students who one day will be the citizens working to convert the world to more sustainable systems.

A set of core courses are required of all Environmental Studies majors that together lay necessary foundations in the social and natural sciences, while providing opportunities for interdisciplinary analysis of environmental ills. In addition to these core courses, students must complete 40 credit hours in a defined concentration. The concentrations are interdisciplinary in nature and facilitate a student’s attainment of some depth of knowledge and methods. For the purposes of fulfilling college wide liberal studies requirements, the Environmental Studies major is counted in the division in which the majority of courses in the concentration reside: the social sciences or humanities.

General Requirements

The department offers two majors, Environmental Science and Environmental Studies. A set of core courses (24 credits) for each major includes:

  • ES 110
  • ES 210
  • FS ENV 201
  • One of ES 580-589
  • ES 600
  • ES 610

The minimum GPA for a student to graduate with a major in Environmental Science or Environmental Studies is 2.00. All courses required for the Environmental Science and Environmental Studies majors (including Allegheny off-campus courses for which a letter grade is received) are counted in the calculation whether they are Environmental Science courses or courses listed outside the department. The most recent grade for a repeated course is used in the calculation. Courses required by the major are expected to be taken on a letter-grade basis. Exceptions must be approved by an Environmental Science department advisor.

Courses offered within the Department of Environmental Science integrate various disciplines, and thus reflect the interdisciplinary nature of environmental concerns and problem-solving. Departmental courses examine ecological systems, interactions of human perceptions, ideas, and technologies, and social, political, economic, and technological methods to preserve environmental quality. Faculty in the department believe that environmental specialists in the natural sciences must have a broad understanding of the social aspects of environmental problems. Likewise, a professional whose expertise is in environmental policy, management, or communications must also have a strong understanding of the scientific basis of decision-making in those fields.

Environmental Science

(40 additional credits)

Select one (1) from this list (4 credits):

  • ES/PS 347 – Environmental Regulation and the State
  • ES 350 – Ecological Economics
  • ES 420 – Understanding Third World Environmental Problems
  • PS 431 – Global Environmental Politics
  • Hist 318 – Environmental History of Europe
  • Eng 209 – Writing about Culture and Place

Select one (1) from this list (4 credits):

  • Math 157 or 160 – Calculus I for Social/Life Sciences or Calculus I
  • Math 158 or 170 – Calculus II for Social/Life Sciences or Calculus II

Select five (5) foundation courses from this list (20 credits):

  • Physics 101 – Fundamentals of Physics I
  • Physics 102 – Fundamentals of Physics II
  • Bio 220 – Organismal Physiology and Ecology
  • Bio 221 – Genetics Development and Evolution
  • FS Bio 201 – Investigative Approaches in Biology
  • Chem 110 – Principles of Chemistry I
  • Chem 112 – Principles of Chemistry II
  • Geo 108 or 110 – Environmental Geology or Physical Geology
  • Geo 230 – Field Geology

Select three (3) advanced courses from this list (12 credits):

  • ES 320 – Forest Ecosystems and Management
  • ES 330 – Climate Change: Past and Future
  • ES 335 – Conservation Biology
  • ES 342 – Toxicology
  • ES 344 – Stream Ecology
  • ES 346 – Wetlands
  • ES 430 – Environmental Soil and Water Analysis (new course)
  • Geo 310 – Process Geomorphology
  • Geo 400 – Hydrogeology
  • Bio 310 – Microbiology
  • Bio 330 – Ecology
  • Bio 385 – Biostatistics
  • Bio 360 – Plant Physiology
  • Bio 580 – The following Biology junior seminars are acceptable:
  • Stream Ecology, Animal Behavior, Limnology, Environmental Microbiology, Hormone Disruption
  • Chem 222 – Inorganic Chemistry
  • Chem 231 – Organic Chemistry 1
  • Chem 261 – Analytical Chemistry
  • Chem 262 – Analytical Chemistry Laboratory

The five foundation and three advanced courses must revolve around a central theme. Courses must be selected in consultation with a faculty member in Environmental Science by the end of the sophomore year. For most students, this selection process will occur during enrollment in ES 210. View the ES web page for suggested course packages. The department expects that students may change course selection during their tenure at Allegheny; the student’s advisor must approve all schedule changes.


Environmental Studies

(40 additional credits)

Select two (2) from this list (8 credits):

  • Math 157 or 160 – Calculus I for Social/Life Sciences or Calculus I
  • Math 158 or 170 – Calculus II for Social/Life Sciences or Calculus II
  • Bio 040 – Plants and Society
  • Bio 045 – Biology of the Algae
  • Bio 050 – Basic Ecology
  • Bio 060 – Cancer: Causes and Consequences
  • Bio 071 – Biotechnology
  • Bio 078 – Biology of Behavior
  • Bio 082 – Insects and Humans
  • Bio 220 – Organismal Physiology and Ecology
  • Bio 221 – Genetics Development and Evolution
  • FS Bio 201 – Investigative Approaches in Biology
  • Chem 015 – Science of Chemistry
  • Chem 016 – Teaching of Chemistry to Elementary School Students
  • Chem 020 – Chemistry and Archaeology
  • Chem 021 – Environmental Chemistry
  • Chem 110 – Principles of Chemistry I
  • Chem 112 – Principles of Chemistry II
  • Geo 108 or 110 – Environmental Geology or Physical Geology
  • Geo 230 – Field Geology
  • ES 320 – Forest Ecosystems and Management
  • ES 410 – Environmental Spatial Analysis
  • ES 415 – Environmental Health
  • Physics 065 – Introduction to Physics
  • Physics 101 – Fundamentals of Physics I
  • Physics 102 – Fundamentals of Physics II

Select eight (8) additional courses (32 total credits), including at least two (2) from this list:

  • ES/PS 347 – Environmental Regulation and the State
  • ES 350 – Ecological Economics
  • ES 420 – Understanding Third World Environmental Problems
  • ES 431 – Global Environmental Politics

At least six (6) of the eight courses must be upper-level (300 or 400). These eight courses must be relevant to environmental studies, and must revolve around a central theme. Courses may include those from the ES department or from other departments. Courses must be selected in consultation with a faculty member in Environmental Science by the end of the sophomore year. For most students, this selection process will occur during enrollment in ES 210. View the ES web page for suggested course packages. The department expects that students may change course selection during their tenure at Allegheny; the student’s advisor must approve all schedule changes.