Environmental and Sustainability Studies
Environmental and Sustainability Studies (ESS) is a multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary minor that offers students the opportunity to explore and critically examine issues related to the environments we share with other humans and with other species. Students have the opportunity to consider how the scientific, social, cultural, cognitive, intellectual, and spiritual dimensions of human-ecological relationships relate to the natural world and how these relationships affect the well-being of human, non-human, and shared communities alike. In addition, students develop the tools to form, evaluate, and act upon environmental questions at the local, national, and global levels.
The mission of the ESS program is to bring together faculty and students to explore human-environment relationships. Environmental degradation produced by human activity poses an existential threat to humans and other-than-humans. Communities around the world are creating alternative social, political, economic, and ethical structures and worldviews to transition to a just and sustainable future. The ESS Program prepares students to become part of this transformation.
Students who choose a minor in ESS will:
1. Understand the critical urgency of threats to our ecological communities and systems,
2. Deepen their understanding of the connections between individual and community well-being and the integrity of the places we inhabit,
3. Deconstruct systems of privilege and power to examine how they threaten natural systems and environments,
4. Explore the rich variety of existing practices and perspectives that represent sustainable alternatives to dominant socio-economic structures,
5. Focus on the interconnected socio-cultural, economic, political, and ethical systems that lead to environmental degradation and/or environmental sustainability,
6. Explore sustainable alternatives to human ecology and communities,
7. Reflect on the meaning of being human in a more-than-human world, and
8. Engage in community stewardship projects and/or creative expression that combines environmental theory and practice.
Requirements for Minor in Environmental and Sustainability Studies (18 Credits)
The Environmental and Sustainability Studies (ESS) Minor requires a minimum of six courses (18 credits)
- At least one 100 Introductory Level Course (3 - 9 credits)
A prerequisite for an ESS designated course (CH 106, EC 110 or EC 120, EV 150, GE 102, GS 101,SO 100, UR 101)
A First Year Seminar or Special Topics in Interdisciplinary Studies with ESS Coordinator and Interdisciplinary Studies Department Chair Approval
- At least two elective Environmental and Sustainability Studies courses at 200 level (6-12 credits)
- At least one elective Environmental and Sustainability Studies course at the 300 level or higher (3-9 credits)
- At least one course that incorporates an action or creative component.
Course may be in any department, but must be approved by ESS Coordinator and Department Chair
Course must be at 200 level or above and can count towards total of electives
Criteria for meeting the action or creative component include:
Engage in community service and environmental action (i.e.: policy brief, internship, volunteer, service learning)
Produce creative work (i.e.: writing, visual or musical piece, performance, PR, video/podcast)
Students can take at most 8 credits from any one department to count towards the minor.
A maximum of two courses at the 200 level or above can come from any single department
*If the Environmental and Sustainability Studies Minor is part of a Liberal Studies Major, this maximum does not apply.
Environmental and Sustainability Studies is an interdisciplinary program drawing from the faculty of many departments at Worcester State University.
Any students with questions can contact the Office of Academic Affairs at 508-929-8938 or the Interdisciplinary Studies Department.
EN-230 Environmental Themes in Literature
This class explores environmental issues as presented in poetry, essays and novels, including such writers as Thoreau, Hemingway and Ann Tyler.
Every 2-3 years. 3 Credits
GE-258 Global Environmental Change
An introduction to the science, political economy and ethics of global environmental change.
Every year. 3 Credits
GE-285 Sustainable Communities
LASC Categories: HBS, USW
Exploration of changes in U.S. and global economic landscape, 1970 to present. Approaches to sustainable economic development.
Every 2-3 years. 3 Credits
GE-307 American Public Lands: Environmental Issues
Prerequisites: GE-258 or permission of instructor.
Exploration of the environmental management issues on U.S. public lands such as national parks, national forests BLM lands.
GE-312 Sustainable Food Systems
Prerequisites: GE-102 or a 200 level GE, GS, SO or UR course.
Overview of the structure, evolution, costs and benefits of the global food system. Exploration of local and global alternatives.
Every 2-3 years. 3 Credits
GE-342 Sustainable Housing And Techniques
Prerequisites: GE-130 or GE-240
Principles of green design with an emphasis on building construction. Material and energy flows, choice of materials, designing for sustainability.
HE-390 Environmental Health
Examination of the issues affecting the environment and their impact on our health.
Fall and Spring and every year. 3 Credits
SO-403 Environmental Sociology
Prerequisites: 9 credits from the department Sociology.
This course explores the relationship between environment and society through a focus on political ecology, sociological dimensions of environmental crisis and dynamics of social change.
UR-360 Environmental Systems and Public Policy
Examination of urban ecosystems, focusing on land uses designed to effectively utilize water, open space, and other natural resources.
Other or on demand. 3 Credits