Majors and Concentrations

There are three majors and two concentrations offered by the Center for Sustainability and the Environment. Majors may be completed in environmental science, environmental studies, and sustainability studies. Concentrations are offered in environmental sciences and environmental studies.

Requirements for Major in Environmental Science

The ten-unit environmental science major provides broad exposure to environmental sciences at the introductory level, focused work in science at the upper level and a set of cognates designed to show the social and humanistic context in which scientists work.

  • Core: Five units of science and mathematics, consisting of Biology 195, Chemistry 121, Geology 101, Geology 111 and Mathematics 141.
  • Science electives: Five units of focused work in science. Courses should have a central theme such as (but not limited to) habitat protection, modeling in environmental science, or water resources, and should be selected in consultation with a science faculty adviser and approved by the CSE director. Courses must be at the 200-level or higher, no more than three courses can be in one department, and at least one 300-level course must be included. Before beginning the theme of study, the student must secure the CSE director’s approval of the proposed five-course sequence. This approval must be granted no later than mid-semester of the second semester of the student’s sophomore year. A copy of the approved program and any subsequently approved changes are to be filed with the registrar after being signed by the CSE director.
  • Cognate courses: Two and one-half units, ENVN 201, ENVN 220, and one additional cognate selected from the “Society and Culture” or “Language, Idea and Image” lists in the environmental studies major.
  • Experiential requirements: 
    • Attendance at a series of seminars each semester. In these, students who completed internships the previous semester will report on them, and other items of general interest, such as graduate schools and careers, will be discussed.
    • An environmental research project, service project or internship. Students should have prior approval of the concentration director, and must make a presentation in the seminar and submit a paper summarizing the experience.

Policy on Advanced Placement Credit

Advanced Placement (AP) cannot be used to satisfy the requirements for Biology 195. Students who place out of Chemistry 121 are required to take Chemistry 123. Students with AP credit for Mathematics 141 are required to take Mathematics 143 or 210.

Requirements for Concentration in Environmental Science

Some environmental careers are practiced primarily in one field of science. Students interested in pursuing such careers should consider the option of a science major with an environmental science concentration. It is strongly advised that students talk with science faculty in choosing their option.

The following are required for the concentration:

  • Core: A major in biology, chemistry, geology, mathematics, mathematics/physics, or physics and six additional courses as described below:
    • Four science courses in two sciences outside the student’s major including two or three units in one science and one or two in another. Only two courses can be at the introductory level, which means they lack prerequisites. Courses are to be selected from the list below and in consultation with the concentration director and the student’s major department. It is possible to substitute other upper-level science courses, depending on the interests of the student.
      Biology 195, 215, 216, 225, 227, 237, 332, 240, 365
      Chemistry 121,123, 200, 206, 211, 212, 337, 327 (1/2 unit)
      Geology 101, 202, 205, 208, 211, 216, 306, 307, 311
      Mathematics and Computer Science 109, 141, 143, 171, 173, 210
      Physics 115, 116, 167, 168
    • ENVN 220
    • One unit selected from the “Society and Culture” or “Language, Idea and Image” lists in the environmental studies major or one additional upper-level science course not in the student’s major.
  • Experiential requirements:
    • Attendance at a series of seminars each semester. In these, students who completed internships the previous semester will report on them, and other items of general interest, such as graduate schools and careers, will be discussed.
    • An environmental research project, service project or internship. Students should have prior approval of the concentration director, and must make a presentation in the seminar and submit a paper summarizing the experience.

Requirements for Major in Environmental Studies

The ten-unit environmental studies major, provides a deep understanding of the complex relationships among natural and social systems, as well as a proficiency in the analytical, rhetorical and creative skills necessary to perceive the wonders of the natural and human worlds and to solve the environmental challenges we face in the twenty-first century.

  • Core: Four units of required foundation courses consisting of: Anthropology 105, ENVN 101, Biology 195, Geology 101.
  • Categories of emphasis: Six units total from the following three categories with at least one but no more than three courses in each category. If students choose to take three courses from a single category, at least two courses must be at the 200-level.

Earth Systems
Biology 206, 237, 240
Geology 103, 104, 106, 111, 115, 211, 306, 311
Physics 102
Mathematics 109, 210

Language, Idea and Image
Art 121, 241
Art History 311, 315
Communication Studies 311
English 206, 238, 354, 358
Philosophy 335

Society and Culture
Anthropology 220, 240, 371
Economics 273
ENVN 220
History 337, 382
International Studies 130
Philosophy 206, 220, 301, 304
Political Science 216, 356
Religious Studies 242

  • Experiential requirements:
    • Attendance at a series of seminars each semester. In these, students who completed internships the previous semester will report on them, and other items of general interest, such as graduate schools and careers, will be discussed.
      Completion of one of the following for up to one-half unit:
    • An environmental research project, service project or internship. Students should have prior approval of the concentration director, and must make a presentation in the seminar and submit a paper summarizing the experience.
    • One-year of residence in Environmental House with ENVN 206: Sustainable Living Seminar
    • ENVN 201: Ecology and Environmental Field Trip

Requirements for Concentration in Environmental Studies

The environmental studies concentration is designed for students who have an interest in environmental issues and plan careers in related fields. The choice of courses for this concentration is more open than in the environmental science concentration, due to the varying interests and backgrounds of the students who choose this option. Participating students may pursue a major in any field. Students who complete this concentration might, for example, enter science journalism or work for environmental advocacy groups.

The following are required for the concentration:

  • ENVN 102, 220.
  • Two skills courses selected from the following: Economics 101, English 203, Mathematics 210, Political Science 216.
    No more than one lab science course selected from the following (this option not available for science majors): Biology 195, Chemistry 121, Geology 101.
  • Two courses that deal explicitly with environmental issues, selected in consultation with the director.
  • One course in the student’s major that is given an environmental focus by completion of an environmental paper, project or activity within the existing structure of the course. Normally these will be at the 200-level or higher. This work will be done in consultation with the director and the course instructor.
  • Experiential requirements:
    • Attendance at a series of seminars each semester. In these, students who completed internships the previous semester will report on them, and other items of general interest, such as graduate schools and careers, will be discussed.
    • An environmental research project, service project or internship. Students should have prior approval of the concentration director, and must make a presentation in the seminar and submit a paper summarizing the experience.

Requirements for Major in Sustainability Studies

The major in sustainability studies at Albion College is a joint venture between Albion College and the University of Versailles Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines (UVSQ) REEDS program, in France. This collaboration offers an opportunity for Albion students to participate in an international, interdisciplinary program that is grounded in the social sciences and designed for students who are engaged in today’s and tomorrow’s sustainability challenges.

Courses in the curriculum are categorized as theories, tools, and terrains. Theories include the framing concepts and scientific principles of sustainability studies, while tools are the methods of analysis and communication. Terrains are specific fields of sustainability challenges, using the theories and tools that students will have already mastered. Through this integration students are invited to explore, on the one hand, the relationships between the economy, lifestyle, and politics and, on the other hand, the physical environment, natural resource use, pollution, climate change, and biodiversity loss. In this way, the interdisciplinary and international character of the major in sustainability studies complements the disciplinary foundations of traditional degree programs.

The major in sustainability studies is obtained by following a four-year program of study offered on a collaborative basis through the UVSQ/Albion partnership. During the first, second, and fourth years of study, courses are offered through UVSQ and Albion College, on the Albion campus, while the third year includes a semester of study abroad at UVSQ. During the semester abroad, students in the program will complete upper-level courses in both theory and tools categories, as well as preparing research papers in selected terrains (case studies and specialized topics). They will be introduced to European culture and the European ethos of sustainability, and visiting international collaborations. After successfully completing the major in sustainability studies, and upon graduation from Albion College, students will receive the B.A. in sustainability studies from Albion College along with a certificate of sustainability studies from UVSQ. They will also be eligible to enter the second-year master’s program at UVSQ (taught in English) in sustainability studies.

The requirements for the major in sustainability studies are as follows:

Nine and three-quarter to ten and three-quarter units of course work including the following:

  • ENVN 100 (1/4 unit, theory), 102 (one unit, theory), 220 (one unit, tool), 230 (3/4 unit, tool), 430 (3/4 unit, tool); Political Science 216 or Anthropology 375 (one unit, theory), Geology 111 (one unit, tool)
  • UVSQ Study Abroad: Time and Uncertainty (3/4 unit, theory), NTICs and the Environment (3/4 unit, tool),selected terrains (3/4 unit/each with a project), A list of terrains offered at the UVSQ is available in the Center for Sustainability and the Environment and the Office of the Registrar.
  • One unit selected from the following: English 206, 238, 354; History 337; Philosophy 301; Art History 315 or an approved substitute. In some cases, courses may require prerequisites, class standing, or permission of the instructor. Please discuss these options with your adviser.
  • Selection from one approved opportunity for experiential or topical learning (up to one unit). This can include one of the following.
    • Honors Program or departmental honors thesis
    • FURSCA
    • Directed study or additional terrain through Albion College
    • ENVN 201, 206
    • Anthropology 240
    • Biology 240
    • Geology 104, 106
    • Physics 102

Prior to taking more advanced courses in political science or anthropology and economics, students should consider taking the following courses (although these are not required): Political Science 101 or Anthropology 105, and Economics 101. Students with some facility in French should take the French language proficiency test. French language courses are excellent options for students considering international studies or careers in sustainability. The language of instruction at the UVSQ in this program is English.

Arrangements for the semester of study abroad at the UVSQ are made jointly through the Center for Sustainability and the Environment and the Albion Center for International Education.