Environmental Studies: BS
Emphases: Human Impacts on the Environment; Communications; Business and Economics; Environmental Policy; International; Planning and Analysis; Environmental Stewardship
Department: Environment and Society Department
College: S.J. & Jessie E. Quinney College of Natural Resources
The environmental studies degree introduces students to the breadth of issues, concerns, and opportunities that arise from humans’ complex relationships with nature. After this broad introduction, students can focus on specific topics that can help humanity live more sustainably on the earth, such as communication, planning, policy analysis, entrepreneurship, and more.
Environmental studies majors learn about the ecology of natural areas and about the political, economic, geographic, and social aspects of nature and its management. Students focus on natural resource and environmental issues confronting society as they look for solutions that can sustain both the natural environment and human communities.
An emphasis is not required.
- Human Impacts on the Environment: This emphasis addresses issues such as human population and industrialization, global climate change, natural disasters, and environmental history.
- Communications: This emphasis helps students understand how to communicate issues pertaining to natural resources and the environment through writing, public speaking, and other forms of communication.
- Business and Economics: This emphasis teaches economics, legal and ethical business practices, management, and marketing in the sphere of natural resources and the environment.
- Environmental Policy: In this emphasis, students learn about recreation policy, natural resources law, water law, and conflict management in natural resources.
- International: This emphasis covers sociological principals, such as contemporary people and developing societies, sustainability, world geography, and human-environment relationships.
- Planning and Analysis: This emphasis covers biogeography, recreation policy, conflict management in natural resources, natural disasters, city planning, and river management.
- Environmental Stewardship: This is a custom emphasis. Students pursuing this option must fill out an emphasis form describing educational goals and specific courses to be taken. A university-approved minor may be used to meet this requirement, subject to approval by the student’s advisor and department head.
With a degree in environmental studies, graduates can pursue the following careers:
- Environmental communicators or educators in business, government, or nonprofit organizations
- Advocates for environmental causes or natural resource constituencies
- Public land management
- Manage organizations’ compliance with environmental regulations
- Conduct audits of internal environmental efficiency
- Work with international programs fostering sustainable development
- Sustainable forestry network and the native forest council
- Natural resources defense council member
- Geographic data analyst
- Laboratory analyst
- Industrial environmental manager
- Environmental scientist
- Environmental activist
Career Services provides counseling and information on hundreds of job and internship opportunities and even helps students apply and interview.
In addition to Utah State University’s admissions requirements, the environmental studies program has special requirements:
- Freshmen: New freshmen admitted to USU in good standing qualify for admission to this major.
- Transfer Students: Transfer students from other institutions or from other USU majors need a 2.5 total GPA to be admitted to the major. Special attention will be given to the amount of, and performance in, prerequisite math and science courses.
- The above criteria are for all students except for those with a first major or previous USU degree in recreation resource management.
International students have additional admissions requirements.
Professional Organizations, Honor Societies, and Clubs
International Association for Society and Natural Resources: IASNR is an interdisciplinary professional association open to individuals who bring a variety of social science and natural science backgrounds to bear on research pertaining to the environment and natural resource issues.
Xi Sigma Pi National Forest Management Honors Society: Although Xi Sigma Pi is a forest management national honors society, it has expanded its view of forest management to recognize fields such as fisheries, wildlife management, and outdoor recreation. In keeping with the stated national goals of the society, the USU chapter seeks to recognize and encourage academic excellence among students.
Aggie Recyclers: Aggie Recyclers is a club designed to serve the community and the environment, accomplished through educating people how to live in a sustainable way. The club is very involved with recycling on campus as well as promoting other sustainable practices. In addition to raising awareness, members also participate in a variety of service activities.
Student Organization for Society and Natural Resources: SOSNR was established in 2003 to promote opportunities for service in the community, provide forums for individuals to present research, and give students opportunities to participate in conferences to help further their academic careers.
Student Sustainability Council: The Student Sustainability Council is a student organization devoted to promoting sustainability on campus, educating the student body and the local community, and giving students the opportunity to serve in areas related to sustainability.
Labs, Centers, Research
With the second oldest undergraduate research program in the nation, USU offers students a wide range of opportunities to gain hands-on research experience. USU’s Honors Program prepares students for excellent graduate programs by helping them build relationships with professors, participate in research projects, take smaller, more intensive classes, and develop leadership skills.
Ecology Center: The Ecology Center is an administrative structure in the university that supports and coordinates ecological research and graduate education in the science of ecology and provides professional information and advice for decision makers considering actions that affect the environment. The Ecology Center at USU has had a string of directors known nationally and worldwide as premier scientists in the field of ecology, and students graduating with a degree in ecology are able to make important contacts with influential faculty that can help them go on to prestigious post-doctoral programs and faculty positions at universities around the world.
S.J. and Jessie E. Quinney Natural Resources Research Library: The Quinney Library maintains collections of materials pertaining to natural resources and the environment in a number of formats that support the programs of study and research in the College of Natural Resources and several partnering centers. The library has more than 60,000 items, both print and electronic, as well as videos, images, and more.
Swaner Preserve and EcoCenter: The Swaner Preserve and EcoCenter, located in Park City, Utah, consists of a 1,200-acre land trust in the Snyderville Basin and a 10,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art facility dedicated to environmental education. The preserve protects critical wetland and foothill terrain in the heart of one of the state’s fastest-growing areas. The EcoCenter, completed in 2009, is a multi-use facility with space for educational and community activities. The facility is LEED platinum certified, the highest standard for design, construction, and operation of high-performance green buildings.
Utah Botanical Center: The UBC, located in Kaysville, Utah, is home to research and demonstration projects focused on sustainable living in the Intermountain West. Studies of water conservation, horticulture, water quality enhancement, wetland ecology, integrated pest management, urban forestry, agriculture, fish and wildlife, highway enhancement, and storm-water management combine to make the center a living laboratory.
Utah House: Located at the Utah Botanical Center, Utah House is a demonstration home displaying efficient use of resources and sustainability principles. The mission of Utah House is to demonstrate, educate, and empower the public about new ways of building homes and creating landscapes that promote energy efficiency, water conservation, universal design principles, healthy indoor environments, and the sustainable use of all resources.