Environmental Science & Policy

Environmental Science & Policy

Environmental Science and Policy (ENSP) is a multidisciplinary program that produces problem solvers and leaders who are prepared to face today’s environmental challenges. ENSP is a unique undergraduate major co-sponsored by three colleges. Students acquire a foundational understanding in science and policy through core classes, and then advance to specialized training and experiences in one of many academic disciplines ranging from biology to geology, and anthropology to government and politics.

Degree Offered: B.S., Sustainability Minor

Environmental Science and Policy information

Programs of Study

Environment & Agriculture

Soil sample

Both locally and internationally, there is increasing concern about how humans manage soils, use water, raise animals, and modify the genetic base of crops. This concentration prepares students to work in agroecology, agricultural land management and conservation, sustainable agriculture, integrated pest management, and production science. 

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Environmental Economics

Man working in crop field

Economics is the study of the allocation of scarce resources. Economics is not simply about profits or money. It applies anywhere constraints are faced, so that choices may be made. Economists study how incentives affect people's behavior.

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Soil, Water, and Land Resources

Water sample

Soil forms an essential part of the environment, affecting or controlling most living things. Soil science draws from geology, geography and a variety of other natural and life sciences, focuses land use management at the watershed scale and provides an integrated knowledge of soil and water dynamics to control problems like non-point source pollution, wetland delineation, and land classification. At the advanced level, soil and water sciences focus on sub-disciplines in soil chemistry, soil physics, soil genesis, soil fertility, and soil biology; all with an emphasis on the soil-water interface. Sponsored by AGNR.

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Wildlife Ecology & Management

Bay wildlife

Today, the study of wildlife ecology is a rigorous science that spans biological scales from the genome to the biosphere. Methods include inventory techniques for population size and condition, physiological function, migratory patterns, habitat evaluation, and food web studies. Management of wildlife is especially challenging because it requires the very best ecological science as a foundation, in addition to a strong perspective in social science. With careful course selection and appropriate postgraduate experience, graduates will be eligible for Certification as Wildlife Biologists. 

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Biodiversity & Conservation Biology


Biodiversity is defined at three levels: genetic diversity (the variety of genetic information contained in all organisms); species diversity (the variety of different living species); and ecosystem diversity (the variety of habitats, the species that live in the habitat, and ecological processes). Biodiversity is invaluable to the process of evolution. This concentration provides a background in the biological principles that influence the diversity of life, especially those that create and those that reduce diversity. Sponsored by the College of Computer, Mathematical, and Natural Sciences.

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Culture & the Environment

People riding camels in the desert

This concentration provides students a firm grounding in anthropology, with additional coursework in the natural and social sciences, and prepares them to assist diverse communities, locally and internationally, as they adapt and transform in response to environmental change now and in the future.  

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Environmental Geosciences & Restoration

Scientist in lab

This concentration represents a significant revision and improvement of its parent concentrations in Earth Surface Processes and Environmental Restoration and Management. Environmental Geosciences and Restoration reflects the national trend toward the increasing prominence of environmental geosciences, including life sciences and biogeochemistry. It integrates earth and life sciences to a much greater degree than any current ENSP concentration; and links the emerging discipline of environmental restoration with core sciences so that students are well-prepared for graduate programs and employment.

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Environmental Politics & Policy

Two students meeting

This concentration gives students an understanding of the forces shaping political behavior, the nature and workings of political institutions, and the ways in which both domestic and international structures constrain environmental policy responses. Sponsored by the College of Behavioral and Social Sciences.

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Global Environmental Change


Stratospheric ozone and climate change are two examples of global environmental issues. Others, such as loss of biodiversity, are equally complex. Global climate change presents complex challenges in many respects. This science-oriented concentration prepares students to addresses the scientific underpinnings, societal impacts, and policy responses to global environmental issues. Sponsored by the College of Behavioral and Social Sciences.

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Land Use

Crop field

"Land" is where "soil" and "people" meet; and there are often competing demands for land, for example, agriculture, forestry, rangeland, conservation, settlement, and recreation. This concentration provides students with a background in the ecological, cultural, regional, and international dimensions of land use, while developing broad technical skills in Geographic Information Science and remote sensing. As a result, this concentration prepares students for positions in land use planning, sustainable land development, and land conservation. Sponsored by the College of Behavioral and Social Sciences.

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Marine & Coastal Management

Ocean coastline

From assessing the impact of one-quarter of the world’s population on the coastal ocean to wise stewardship of fishery and other commercial resources, the career potential for undergraduates trained in ocean and coastal science is large. To prepare for this, students will learn the basic principles of oceanography and littoral processes, and their relationship to meteorological conditions and forcing; learn about factors influencing biological productivity in the coastal zone; utilize geospatial analysis and data assimilation to become familiar with computer modeling; and gain a background in environmental policy as it relates to marine and coastal management and land use. Sponsored by the College of Behavioral and Social Sciences.

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