Environmental Studies

Students who are fascinated by the interactions between human society and our natural world thrive in this bachelor’s-degree program, where crucial natural-science concepts such as climate change and globalization are explored through a variety of lenses.

Political science, economics, art, literature, philosophy, ethics and sociology are all applied. You’ll learn:

  • What it means to possess a personal sense of place
  • Fundamentals of social sciences, natural sciences and humanities
  • How to respond effectively to environmental problems and how to encourage effective responses from others

Our highly experiential coursework focuses on understanding and addressing the complex environmental problems faced by our society, such as climate change, globalization, invasive species, loss of biodiversity, energy, pollution and population pressure. Graduates are well-prepared for careers in environmental advocacy and environmental education, as well as work in environmental organizations and agencies, writing and public relations, environmental policy and law, and teaching and graduate study.

Key Facts

At the end of the program students will be able to:

  • Environment and Human Expression
    • Drawing from a variety of sources and perspectives, students will creatively and critically interpret, in written and oral form, the influence of philosophy, literature, religion and the arts in developing environmental policies and perspectives.
  • Environment and Society
    • Critically interpret the influence of politics, social forces, economics, and geography in developing environmental perspectives, policies and actions, highlighting the influence of social, cultural and ecological diversity.
  • Environmental History
    • Students will analyze how different societies’ patterns of relating to and valuing the natural world have shaped the ecosystems around them over time, and how societies in turn have been shaped by their material environments.
  • Environment and Science
    • Students will be able to effectively communicate and discuss how ecosystems function in conjunction with the mechanisms of human influence on nature.
  • Comparative Field Experiences
    • Through out-of-classroom group and individual work, students will describe how history, art, local culture, and economic activity have influenced environmental and social outcomes in the Adirondacks and other regions.
  • Applied Tools
    • Integrate critical thinking and research skills as a basis for informed action by using one or more applied tools for environmental study and management in independent and group research/action projects.
  • Interdisciplinary Study
    • Employ and integrate a variety of intellectual and disciplinary concepts in their study of and engagement with complex environmental policies and perspectives.
Career Options
  • Environmental Educator
  • Environmental Advocacy
  • Environmental Communications
  • Environmental Law
  • Environmental Planning and Policy
  • Teacher—7-12; Higher Education
  • Graduate School—variety of disciplines
Program Objectives

Program Planning Guide »

  • Politics of the Environment
  • Introduction to Environment and Society
  • Environmental History
  • General Ecology
  • Ecological Change and Society
  • Philosophy of Nature
  • Contemporary Environmental Writers
  • Ecological Change and Social Justice
Required Courses
  • Biology
  • Effective College Writing
  • First Year Seminar
  • Society and Natural World Foundation Course
  • Environment & Society Cluster
  • Interpersonal Communications
  • Intro to Nature and Culture
  • Quantitative Problem Solving
  • Liberal Arts and Science Elective
  • General Ecology
  • Politics Of The Environment
  • Environment & Human Expression Cluster
  • Principles of Economics
  • Social Research
  • Environment & Science Cluster
  • Practitioner Skills Cluster
  • Wilderness In American Literature
  • Contemporary Environmental Writers
  • Ecological Change & Society
  • Environmental History & Social Justice
  • Environment & Science Cluster
  • Liberal Arts and Science Elective
  • Global Environmental Studies Seminar
  • Natural Resource Economics

More information (College Catalog) »


Paul Smith's receives five Best Colleges distinctions, including the No. 1 ranking for Most Innovative Schools. Continue reading »


Our campus sits at the heart of the Adirondacks, a 6-million-acre wilderness that encompasses everything from boggy wetland to alpine forest, and contains a dazzling variety of plant and animal life. The United Nations has declared the region part of an international biosphere reserve.

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