2010-2011 Academic Catalog 
    Jun 18, 2024  
2010-2011 Academic Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Environmental Science Major

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Clark environmental science majors may elect to concentrate in one of three areas: Earth Systems Science, Environmental and Conservation Biology, and Environmental Science and Policy.

Students who have clearly developed interests in environmental science when they arrive at Clark may be interested in satisfying some of their perspectives with environmentally relevant perspective courses.


Undergraduate Program

The interdisciplinary environmental science major introduces students to physical, biological, geographical and policy aspects of the natural environment. Following a set of common core courses, majors choose one of three tracks: Earth System Science, Environmental and Conservation Biology, or Environmental Science and Policy. The major provides training for those who want to continue on to graduate school or establish management, fieldwork, or laboratory careers in areas as diverse as ecology; conservation biology; teaching; environmental planning, protection, or regulation; water or air monitoring; and policy development.

Advanced students are encouraged to undertake directed research or internships and may do a senior project for honors. Environmental science faculty come from a wide range of Clark’s departments. Most are from Biology, Geography, and International Development, Community and Environment, but faculty with environmental interests are also to be found in departments as diverse as Chemistry, Economics, Government, Management, Philosophy, and Physics. Many of the research faculty of Clark’s George Perkins Marsh Institute are also contributors to the ES major.

Accelerated B.A./M.A. Programs

Accelerated B.A./M.A. programs in biology, environmental science and policy, and geographic information systems (GIS) are available to eligible students. For more information visit www.clarku.edu/accelerate.

Visiting Faculty

Barbara Goldoftas, Ph.D.


Environmental and Conservation Biology Track

Environmental biologists explore the ways in which organisms evolve and interact with one another and their environments. Levels of exploration can range from molecular evolution and genomics to ecosystem level function. Conservation biology makes up one component of this field, focusing on the biological knowledge necessary to preserve biodiversity. Because the loss of biodiversity has reached crisis proportions, we offer a focused curriculum that enables students to bring appropriate biological tools and knowledge to efforts to develop conservation strategies and policies.

This track is designed to provide this focus and to allow students to design a curriculum that will prepare them for research and teaching in environmental and conservation biology. The environmental and conservation track carries the following requirements. We recommend that students interested in obtaining both a strong background in environmental and conservation biology and policy consider completing this track and then the accelerated B.A./M.A. degree in environmental science and policy.

Environmental Science Core Courses (3)

These courses are intended to provide all students in the environmental science major with a common, general background and vocabulary in environmental science:

Mathematics and Statistics (2)

These pairs of courses offer students requisite mathematical and statistical skills for the discipline. The second statistics course must be approved by the ECB track advisor.

Biology Core Courses (4)

These courses provide students with the knowledge needed for more advanced study in the field.

Research Course in Biology (1)

These are courses that provide students with intensive research experiences that will enable them to develop the background needed to design and carry out their own research. With prior approval, courses in field programs may also satisfy this requirement.

Seminar Course in Biology (1)

Seminar courses provide students with the opportunity to develop the ability to read and evaluate original literature and to develop verbal presentation and discussion skills at the same time they are exploring a new field of biology.

Courses in Environment and Society (2)

Selection of courses from this list will provide students with initial insights into the mutual impacts of the biological systems and human activities, as well as the processes entailed in decision making and policy development relative to environmental issues.

Other recommendations:

Students interested in Environmental and Conservation Biology, whose interests overlap with those of a biology faculty member, and who meet B.A./M.A. academic requirements, should seriously consider participating in the Accelerated B.A./M.A. Degree Program. This program enables students with career goals that include research to develop a much deeper understanding of the field, and of the skills involved in hypothesis development, data acquisition and analysis, and written and verbal presentation skills.

Earth Systems Science Track

Earth Systems Science examines the structure and function of the parts of the earth—geosphere, hydrosphere and atmosphere—and how they interact to create the biosphere (zone of life). It is an integrated science that permits the earth system puzzle to be put together as whole, and is the foundation for a range of science and societal issues including global climate change, thinning of the ozone layer, landscape dynamics, and loss of biotic diversity.

The earth systems science track in the environmental science major emphasizes the structure and function of the terrestrial surface of the earth, including human land use and consequences, and the use of remote sensing and geographical information sciences for problem solving. Students completing the this track are prepared for a large range of professional endeavors and advanced studies involving the geosciences, physical geography, and GIScience. The earth systems science track carries the following requirements:

Environmental Science Core Courses (3)

These courses are intended to provide all students in the environmental science major with a common, general background and vocabulary in environmental science:

Elective Introductory Environmental Systems Science Courses (5; 3 at the 100 level)

These courses include offerings in physical geography, hydrology, weather and climate, global warming, environmental chemistry and biodiversity.

Elective Advanced Environmental Systems Science Courses (3; 2 from Geography, 2 must be at the 100/200 level)

These are more narrowly focused, upper division courses in Earth Systems Science.

Skills GIScience (1)

These offerings allow students to develop the knowledge to use Global and Environmental imaging and information systems.

Research Experience

This can be fulfilled by an appropriate capstone course, an internship, the HERO program (see Clark Web pages), directed research (EN299), or an honors thesis (EN297). The work must be presented as a poster at Academic Spree Day.

Environmental Science and Policy Track

The Environmental Science and Policy undergraduate program prepares students to deal with the complexities of environmental issues in society. The program provides students with an in-depth understanding of how human activity and technology are impacting the natural environment and provides social science and policy perspective on how these impacts can be minimized. The strong emphasis on the natural sciences ensures students understand the technical as well as the social aspects of the world’s most pressing environmental issues.

The environmental science and policy track carries the following requirements:

Environmental Science Core Courses (3)

These courses are intended to provide all students in the environmental science major with a common, general background and vocabulary in environmental science:

Statistics (1)

These courses provide analytical and statistical expertise necessary for the discipline.

In some cases the ES&P track director may allow substitution with one of the following.

Disciplinary Introductory Science Courses (3)

These courses provide background in the sciences, including biology, chemistry and physics. Chosen from the following, the courses must draw on at least two different disciplines:

Science Electives (3; at least one at the 200 level)

These courses may be chosen from a wide range of advanced science electives in biology, chemistry, geography and physics. At least one must be at 200-level:

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