Global Environmental Studies Overview
Citizens of the world in the 21st century must deal with notoriously difficult environmental questions. How do we reduce our dependency upon fossil fuels? How can we reverse biodiversity decline? Is biotechnology safe for humans and other species? Can we achieve more economic justice and protect the environment at the same time? Will international institutions and social movements lead the way or will local environmental justice groups provide the real solutions?
Through an interdisciplinary approach, the global environmental studies major provides students with the knowledge and tools to understand the economic, political and cultural causes of environmental transformation, degradation and exploitation. More importantly, the major affords students opportunities, through research, internships and field work, to consider and develop solutions to environmental problems. Students will look at global and local environment issues through the eyes of people whose lives, livelihoods and ways of living are at stake in the process of economic, ecological, cultural and political change. Students will contend with the economic practices, laws and policies, cultural values and social norms that guide peoples’ relation with the living world in multiple locations with different climates, histories, economies and governing structures. Students will learn the histories, geographies and strategies of major social movements which have fought for environmental protection, cultural survival, biodiversity, food security, territory, common property and equitable distribution of resources.
The international community needs professionals with a breadth of understanding of today’s complex realities. GES students can gain an understanding of multiple dimensions of environmental issues, including international political economy, culture and environment, gender studies, social inequalities, global environmental change, environmental information science, environmental law and policy, geographic information systems, and social theory. With a customized program of study, students can prepare for careers in a variety of fields, including media, finance, law, advocacy, research, government, higher education, civil-society organizations, social movements and corporations. They will have the knowledge and skills necessary to contribute to: sustainable livelihoods, healthy ecosystems, recovery from environmental damage, and innovative social, economic, and ecological alternatives for the future.
For details regarding the major or minor, students should consult the Guide to the Major/Minor, which is available on the GES Clark web page.
The Clark Advantage
Geography majors, Global Environmental Studies (GES) majors, and Environmental Science (ES) majors concentrating in Earth System Science (ESS) have the opportunity to work on research projects with faculty members and graduate students in one of the most prestigious graduate programs of geography worldwide. Summer Fellowships are available for qualified students to participate in the Human-Environment Regional Observatory (HERO) program, an intensive summer academic-year research effort focused on environmental change in New England. Eligible majors also have the opportunity to enter the accelerated M.A. in GIScience program. Other accelerated M.A. programs include International Development and Social Change, Environmental Science and Policy, and Community Development and Planning.
Geography, GES, and ESS undergraduates are served by the Clark University Geography Association (CUGA) and Gamma Theta Upsilon, an international geographic honors society.
CUGA is the voice of Geography, GES, and ESS majors, with student representation on the undergraduate studies committee and in departmental meetings. CUGA representatives are able to vote at department meetings and give their ideas and opinions on various topics that concern undergraduate majors. They also attend field trips and host events, such as The CUGA Annual Address on Practicing Geography.
Gamma Theta Upsilon is an international honor society. In order to become members, initiates must have completed a minimum of three geography courses, have maintained a minimum GPA of 3.3, and have completed at least three semesters (or five quarters) of college course work. For more information on Gamma Theta Upsilon please see their official website.
The Global Environmental Studies major provides a general introduction into the interdisciplinary field, and offers the opportunity to study a particular dimension in depth. The major has four components: (1) Breadth courses; (2) Skills Courses; (3) Depth Courses; and (4) a Capstone course. GES majors are required to take a minimum of 12 interdepartmental courses in accordance with the following guidelines:
Breadth Requirement (5 courses required)
Environmental problems and solutions result from economic systems, governments, international institutions, cultural systems, social movements and ecological systems. Breadth courses emphasize the basic concepts of the Global Environmental Studies Major and ways of creating knowledge. Courses in the breadth area are designed to help you build frameworks for understanding the world. We strongly encourage you to take your breadth courses early in your program, because these courses are often prerequisites for 200-level courses.
Majors must take a total of 5 breath courses. One course must be from the GES State of the Earth list and one course must be from the GES Natural Science list. The remaining three courses can be chosen from three of these four broad disciplinary areas: Economics/Political Economy of the Environment; Government/Institutions; Civil Society and Social Movements; and Culture and Environment.
A. State of the Earth (One course must be from this list)
B. Natural Science (One course must be from this list)
C. Economics/Political Economy of the Environment
E. Civil Society and Social Movements
F. Culture and Environment
Skills Requirement (2 courses required)
Skills are particularly important to promoting valid analysis of environmental problems and their solutions. They are of critical importance in gaining employment after graduation. Majors must take two skills courses, but are encouraged to take more. GEOG 141 - Research Design and Methods in Geography is strongly recommended for all GES majors, subject to permission from the advisor to choose another option. Exceptions may be granted on a case-by-case basis, especially for those students who take a humanities-based approach to the major. The second skills course should be intellectually compatible with the “depth” area.
Depth Requirement (4 courses required)
Depth courses give you an opportunity to explore a specific subject area more critically and stringently. The field of global environmental studies is large, and students should develop expertise in a more narrowly defined substantive area. Majors are required to take four depth courses, two of which must be at a 200-level. The depth or substantive area is determined by the student and advisor through development of the learning plan (see below). Suggested depth areas include the following: Sustainability Science; Culture and Political Ecology; Urban Ecology and Urban Environment; Environmental Risks and Hazards; Resource Management; Land-Change and Land-Degradation Science; Art and the Environment; Energy and the Environment; Food, Justice, and Sustainability; and Climate Change Sciene and Policy.
A. Sustainability Science
B. Culture and Political Ecology
C. Urban Ecology and Urban Environment
D. Environmental Risks and Hazards
F. Land-Change and Land-Degradation Science
G. Arts and the Environment
H. Energy and the Environment
I. Food, Justice and Sustainability
J. Climate Change Science and Policy
The capstone is intended to draw together the knowledge and skills gained throughout the course of study for completing the requirements of the major. Each year a series of capstone courses is offered. The chosen capstone should complement the work completed previously by the student and be in accordance with the student’s formal learning plan. Internships and special research opportunities (with academic credit) are also encouraged and can count as capstone experiences, subject to approval by the student’s academic advisor.
Capstone Credit Suggestions
This is not a comprehensive list of capstone credit options. Other seminar, research, and field courses are subject to approval by the student’s advisor.
Learning Plan and Learning Synopsis
Each student is required to prepare a formal learning plan upon declaring the major. This plan, which can take the form of the major planning sheet in the program guide, identifies the courses the student intends to take (and in which semesters) in order to complete the major requirements. This plan can and should be regularly updated, with files retained by the major advisor and/or the undergraduate program assistant, as well as by the student.
In addition, by February of the senior year, each student must complete a learning synopsis consisting of a worksheet from within the program guide, as well as a 2-3 page essay. The synopsis will provide a comprehensive assessment of the GES major as experienced by the student. Specifically, the synopsis describes and points to evidence of student achievement according to the goals of the major: 1) understanding the diverse sources, and therefore, possible solutions to environmental problems; 2) articulating relationships of people, culture, and society with the biophysical environment; 3) defining and describing concepts of sustainability, economic and social justice in a global context 4) identifying specific problem/issue of global environmental significance and discussing comprehensive approach to solutions; and 5) mastery of appropriate skills. The synopsis must be developed in consultation with, as well as signed by, the advisor and the GES Director.
Internships and Study Abroad
Students are strongly encouraged to do internships with local, state, federal and international governments, as well as social movements and civil society organizations for major credit. Similarly, study abroad provides students the opportunity to witness first-hand the environmental issues that arise in other parts of the world and to be a part of their analysis and solution. To receive credit in the GES major for study abroad, students must work with faculty advisers or other departmental and affiliate professors.
Requirements for the Dual Major
In accordance with university guidelines, the requirements for a dual major are identical to those of the individual major. Two courses may be double-counted towards both majors.
The honors program in geography provides qualified students majoring in geography and in global environmental studies an opportunity to conduct a major independent research project on a topic of interest.
- Complete a two-semester independent honors project (thesis) or counterpart in accepted “selective” program, such as HERO, the final product of which is evaluated by a Honors Committee.
- Present a poster or paper related to the honors project at Academic Spree Day or at a relevant professional meeting.
- Project must be supervised by a geography faculty member and one additional faculty member; the two members constitute the student’s Honors Committee.
Program Candidate Qualifications
- Open to juniors with a minimum GPA of 3.25 overall and 3.5 GPA in Global Environmental Studies by the end of the first semester of their junior year of study, and who demonstrate the appropriate research background to undertake independent geographic research.
- Honors participants should have taken GEOG141 Research Methods, or its equivalent, before entering the program.
Applying for Honors
- Notification of eligibility and information about the program is forwarded to all junior students in November of the junior year.
- Students wishing to start their honors project in the spring semester of the junior year must notify the undergraduate program assistant by December 15. Those students wishing to start their honors project in the fall semester of their senior year must notify the undergraduate program assistant by March 15.
- Acceptance to the Honors Program is considered provisional until grades for the fall semester (junior year) are received. If these grades enable the student to continue meeting the GPA standards described above, she/he becomes formally accepted to the program.
- Honors students register for GEOG297 Directed Research (Honors), or HERO for two semesters -spring/fall of the junior-senior year or fall/spring of the senior year.
Details of the honors program in geography are available in the undergraduate section of The Graduate School of Geography’s web page.
Global Environmental Studies Faculty
Anthony Bebbington, Ph.D.
Mark Davidson, Ph.D.
J. Ronald Eastman, Ph.D.
Jody Emel, Ph.D.
Karen Frey, Ph.D.
James McCarthy, Ph.D.
James T. Murphy, Ph.D.
Richard Peet, Ph.D.
Colin Polsky, Ph.D.
Robert Gilmore Pontius Jr, Ph.D.
Samuel Ratick, Ph.D.
Dianne Rocheleau, Ph.D. (Program Director)
John Rogan, Ph.D.
Christopher Williams, Ph.D.
Kiran Asher, Ph.D.
John Baker, Ph.D.
Denise Bebbington, Ph.D.
Halina Brown, Ph.D.
Sarah Buie, M.F.A.
Patrick Derr, Ph.D.
Timothy Downs, D.Env.
Jude Fernando, Ph.D.
William Fisher, Ph.D.
Jacqueline Geoghegan, Ph.D.
Robert Goble, Ph.D.
Barbara Goldoftas, Ph.D.
Todd Livdahl, Ph.D.
Bruce London, Ph.D.
Paul W. Posner, Ph.D.
Jennie Stephens, Ph.D.
Douglas Johnson, Ph.D.
Roger Kasperson, Ph.D.
Robert Kates, Ph.D.
B. L. Turner, Ph.D.
Robert Mitchell, Ph.D.
Off Campus Affiliated
Scott Jiusto, Ph.D - Worcester Polytechnic Institute
Rob Krueger, Ph.D - Worcester Polytechnic Institute
Global Environmental Studies Courses
- ARTS 120 - Introduction to Photography
- ARTS 121 - Intermediate Photography
- ARTS 162 - Exploring the Natural World: Seeding Artistic Process with Drawing, Monotype and Mixed Media
- ARTS 204 - Sacred Space
- BIOL 084 - Biodiversity
- BIOL 103 - Environmental and Conservation Biology
- BIOL 106 - Introductory Biostatistics
- BIOL 114 - Marine Biology
- BIOL 201 - Ecology of Atlantic Shores
- BIOL 207 - Conservation Biology
- BIOL 216 - Ecology
- BIOL 258 - Small Scale Land Conservation in Massachusetts
- ECON 010 - Economics and the World Economy
- ECON 128 - Intro to Economic Development
- ECON 157 - The Economics of Natural Resources and the Environment
- ECON 245 - The History of Global Economy
- ECON 257 - Environmental and Natural Resource Economics
- EN 101 - Sustainability Science: Environment, Society and Technology
- EN 103 - The Sustainable University
- EN 124 - Global Warming: How to Respond?
- EN 171 - International Perspectives on Environmental Problems and Policies
- EN 177 - Health and the Urban Environment
- EN 203 - Water: The Socio-Ecological Perspective
- EN 241 - Environmental Toxicology
- EN 245 - Natural Resource Management
- EN 252 - Green Business Management
- EN 255 - Global Health: Epidemiologic Perspectives, Health and the Urban Environment
- EN 258 - Food Production, Environment and Health
- EN 264 - Environmental and Social Epidemiology
- EN 266 - Energy & Climate Social Change
- EN 276 - Environmental Law
- EN 277 - Sustainable Consumption and Production
- EN 282 - U.S. Environmental Pollution Policy
- ENG 202 - Feature Writing
- ENG 239 - Aliens and Others in Science Fiction
- ENT 202 - Entrepreneurial Communication and Influence
- ENT 245 - Social Entrepreneurship
- GEOG 017 - Culture, Place and the Environment
- GEOG 020 - American Cities: Changing Spaces, Community Places
- GEOG 052 - Global Change, Regional Challenges
- GEOG 075 - Americans and the Environment
- GEOG 086 - Losing Ground: Examining the Drivers and Consequences of Land Change since the Nineteenth Century
- GEOG 090 - Native Americans, Land and Natural Resources
- GEOG 102 - Weather and Climate
- GEOG 104 - Earth System Science
- GEOG 119 - Arctic System Science
- GEOG 126 - Living in the Material World: The Political Geography of Resource Development
- GEOG 127 - Political Economy of Development
- GEOG 136 - Gender and Environment
- GEOG 157 - Psychogeography and Cultural Spaces
- GEOG 172 - City Planet: Urban Challenges in a Globalized World
- GEOG 179 - Global and Local Environmental Justice
- GEOG 190 - Introduction to Geographic Information Science
- GEOG 197 - Native Americans, Land and Natural Resources
- GEOG 216 - Field Methods for Environmental Science
- GEOG 220 - Property and the Global Environment
- GEOG 225 - Environmental Politics
- GEOG 234 - The Geography of Fire
- GEOG 237 - Feminism, Nature and Culture
- GEOG 247 - Intermediate Quantitative Methods in Geography
- GEOG 252 - Urban Design Research Lab
- GEOG 256 - Global Economic Geographies
- GEOG 261 - Decision Methods for Environmental Management and Policy
- GEOG 271 - Groundwater Hydrology and Management
- GEOG 274 - Africa's Development in Global Context
- GEOG 280 - Urban Ecology: Cities as Ecosystems
- GEOG 283 - Terrestrial Ecosystems and Global Change
- GEOG 289 - Development Policy
- GEOG 321 - Ecologies of Resistance and Transformation: Alternatives to Development
- HIST 293 - African American Social and Political Movements
- ID 112 - Leading Issues in Sustainable Development
- ID 125 - Tales from the Far Side: Third World Development and Underdevelopment in the Age of Globalization
- ID 130 - Intro to Economic Development
- ID 131 - Local Action/Global Change: The Urban Context
- ID 155 - The Economics of Natural Resources and the Environment
- ID 206 - Peasants, Rural Development and Agrarian Change
- ID 209 - Beyond Victims and Guardian Angels: Third World Women, Gender and Development
- ID 245 - Culture, Politics, and International Development
- ID 253 - Social Movements, Globalization, and the State
- ID 256 - Open Source Internet GIS and Mapping
- ID 262 - Famine and Food Security
- ID 269 - Capitalism, Nature Development
- ID 272 - Environment and Justice in Latin America
- ID 294 - Environment, Culture and Development
- ID 296 - Advance Vector GIS
- IDCE 30205 - Climate Change, Energy and Development
- IDCE 30277 - Sustainable Consumption and Production
- IDCE 30304 - Field Methods: Air, Water, and Soil Quality
- IDCE 367 - Quantitative Environmental Modeling
- MGMT 252 - Green Business Management
- PHIL 131 - Environmental Ethics
- PHIL 232 - Case Studies in Environmental Ethics
- PHYS 140 - Energy, the Environment, and Climate
- PHYS 243 - Technology of Renewable Energy
- PSCI 216 - Comparative Environmental Politics
- PSCI 251 - U.S. Social Movements and Interest Groups
- PSCI 276 - Environmental Law
- PSYC 295 - Social Science Research to Influence Public Policy
- SCRN 107 - Introduction to Digital Filmmaking
- SOC 205 - Sociology of the Environment
- SOC 232 - Population, Environment and Development
- SOC 276 - Environment and Inequality
- TA 119 - Public Speaking