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Environmental Studies/Earth Sciences Combined Major B.A.

Information and Policies

Introduction

This course of study provides students with the basic tools of Earth sciences and environmental studies needed to address environmental problems.

Students interested in the available concentrations should choose to pursue the environmental studies B.A. degree. This does not apply to students who declared a combined major and concentration in agroecology and sustainable food systems prior to 2019.

Academic Advising for the Program

Advising is one way to make the most of your university experience. The advising system at UC Santa Cruz is amazing, and we encourage you to use it often. Ask questions, seek advice, and make decisions that work best for you.

To receive advising for this major, contact envsadvi@ucsc.edu. Additional information for prospective transfer students can be found in the Transfer Information and Policy section.

Program Learning Outcomes

Students graduating with a B.A. degree in environmental studies/Earth sciences combined will be able to:

  • Identify the societal (social, political, economic and ethical) agents and structures that contribute to environmental change. (social science competency)

  • Describe the structure and functioning of major physical and ecological components of the earth’s systems. (natural science competency)

  • Access and analyze a complex literature addressing specific topics in environmental studies, and evaluate the usefulness and limitations of individual sources of information. (analytic thinking)

  • Demonstrate effective oral and written communication skills. (communication skills).

Major Qualification Policy and Declaration Process

Major Qualification

To qualify for the environmental studies/Earth sciences combined major, students must complete the specific courses listed below, or their approved equivalents.

One of the following
ENVS 24General Ecology

5

BIOE 20CEcology and Evolution

5

Plus all of the following
ENVS 25Environmental Policy and Economics

5

CHEM 1AGeneral Chemistry

5

STAT 7Statistical Methods for the Biological, Environmental, and Health Sciences

5

STAT 7LStatistical Methods for the Biological, Environmental, and Health Sciences Laboratory

2

Determining qualification
  • Students who complete all the qualification courses with a grade of P, or letter grade of C or better are qualified to declare a major.

  • Students who have received one grade of C-, D+, D, D-, or F in one of the qualification courses taken at UC Santa Cruz will only be qualified to declare after successfully completing the same or an equivalent course with a letter grade of C or better.

  • Students with two or more grades of C-, D+, D, D-, or F in the qualification courses taken at UC Santa Cruz are not qualified to declare the major.

  • Students with AP credit (score of 3 or higher) for any of the qualification course(s) are qualified to declare after successfully completing the remaining qualification courses.

  • Students must attend an Environmental Studies Department declaration workshop when requesting to declare the major.

Appeal Process

Students who are not qualified to declare the major may appeal this decision by submitting an appeal to qualify for the major within 15 days of the denial of the declaration. Within 15 days of receipt of the appeal, the department will notify the student and college of the decision. If a student has questions about the appeals process, they should contact envsadvi@ucsc.edu.

How to Declare a Major

All students are required to attend one declaration workshop offered during the first three weeks of the quarter they are eligible to declare. Before students attend declaration workshops, they should check to see if they are eligible to declare using the major qualification page. Students wishing to declare within the Environmental Studies Department should visit the Environmental Studies Department website and follow the steps listed in the "how to declare" tab. Degree requirement sheets may be downloaded from the Environmental Studies Undergraduate Program Requirements page.

Transfer Information and Policy

Transfer Admission Screening Policy

Students who apply for transfer admission to the major are required to have taken the equivalents of the following courses with a C grade (2.0) or better by the end of the spring term for students planning to enter in the fall:

One of the following
ENVS 24General Ecology

5

BIOE 20CEcology and Evolution

5

Plus all of the following
CHEM 1AGeneral Chemistry

5

CHEM 1BGeneral Chemistry

5

CHEM 1MGeneral Chemistry Laboratory

2

CHEM 1CGeneral Chemistry

5

CHEM 1NGeneral Chemistry Laboratory

2

Plus one of the following courses
AM 3Precalculus for the Social Sciences

5

MATH 3Precalculus

5

MATH 11ACalculus with Applications

5

MATH 19ACalculus for Science, Engineering, and Mathematics

5

Plus one of the following options

Either ENVS 25; or ECON 1 and a course in national or international politics; or or ECON 2 and a course in national or international politics.

GPA Requirement

To be considered for admission in the environmental studies majors, transfer students must pass the following courses or their equivalents of the following courses with a C (2.0) or better in the required courses.

Recommended courses

In addition, the following courses are recommended prior to transfer to ensure timely graduation.

MATH 11ACalculus with Applications

5

EART 5California Geology

5

EART 5LCalifornia Geology Laboratory

1

PHYS 6AIntroductory Physics I

5

PHYS 6LIntroductory Physics I Laboratory

1

PHYS 6BIntroductory Physics II

5

PHYS 6MIntroductory Physics II Laboratory

1

And one of the following courses
SOCY 1Introduction to Sociology

5

SOCY 10Issues and Problems in American Society

5

SOCY 15World Society

5

ANTH 2Introduction to Cultural Anthropology

5

PHIL 22Introduction to Ethical Theory

5

PHIL 24Introduction to Ethics: Contemporary Moral Issues

5

PHIL 28Environmental Ethics

5

BME 80G
/PHIL 80G
Bioethics in the 21st Century: Science, Business, and Society

5

Prospective students are encouraged to prioritize required and recommended
major preparation, and may additionally complete courses that articulate to
UC Santa Cruz general education requirements as time allows.

Getting Started at UCSC as a Transfer Student

Transfer students pursuing environmental studies majors are encouraged to transfer in the fall quarter.

Transfer students should enroll in STAT 7 and STAT 7L during the summer or fall quarter in order to take ENVS 100 and ENVS 100L in winter or spring quarter of their first year. Transfer students who have completed the screening requirements listed above can formally declare their major, following the steps in How to Declare a Major given above.

ENVS 25 and CHEM 1A are usually offered during Summer Session at UC Santa Cruz, and transfer students are encouraged to take them if they have not completed a substitute requirement or want a better understanding of the relevant material. If you are transferring, compare catalog descriptions, consult your current institution's adviser, and refer to the ASSIST website to determine equivalency. Prospective transfer students should review the transfer information.

Prospective transfer students should review transfer information on the environmental studies transfer information.

Students who are proposed in a different major and have advanced standing when they come to UC Santa Cruz require permission from the department to change into the major. Contact envsadvi@ucsc.edu to request permission.

Letter Grade Policy

This program does not have a letter grade policy, except that the senior comprehensive requirement must be taken for a letter grade.

Course Substitution Policy

Students pursuing the Environmental Studies/Earth Sciences Combined Major cannot substitute courses to count toward their upper division electives.

Study Abroad

Students in environmental studies are encouraged to participate in Study Abroad programs and other off-campus programs. Students who are interested in these programs shall note the following policies:

  • Students planning to study abroad must be declared in their major prior to
    studying abroad.
  • Students must have their courses they plan to take abroad reviewed and
    approved by Environmental Studies Advising.
  • Environmental studies combined majors cannot petition their courses
    taken abroad for upper division course substitution.
  • For more information on EAP, please visit the UC Education Abroad Program
    website
    .

Honors

Departmental Honors. Students must have a 3.5 grade point average (GPA) in all courses used to satisfy the environmental studies upper-division requirements. To be considered for departmental honors, students are limited to no more than one grade of P in those upper-division courses.

Senior Comprehensive Honors. Only applicable to a senior thesis, senior internship, or individual work in a senior seminar. Honors must be awarded by the student’s faculty sponsor, and a second faculty member (chosen by the student’s faculty adviser) must confer.

Highest Departmental Honors. Students must have a 3.75 grade point average (GPA) in in all courses used to satisfy the environmental studies upper-division requirements and must also receive senior comprehensive honors (see above). To be considered for highest departmental honors, students are limited to no more than one grade of P in those upper-division courses.

Students must fulfill all requirements for honors from environmental studies and biology.

Requirements and Planners

Course Requirements

Lower-Division Courses

Both of the following
STAT 7Statistical Methods for the Biological, Environmental, and Health Sciences

5

STAT 7LStatistical Methods for the Biological, Environmental, and Health Sciences Laboratory

2

Plus one of the following options
Either these courses

MATH 11ACalculus with Applications

5

MATH 11BCalculus with Applications

5

or these courses

MATH 19ACalculus for Science, Engineering, and Mathematics

5

MATH 19BCalculus for Science, Engineering, and Mathematics

5

Plus all of the following
CHEM 1AGeneral Chemistry

5

CHEM 1BGeneral Chemistry

5

CHEM 1MGeneral Chemistry Laboratory

2

CHEM 1CGeneral Chemistry

5

CHEM 1NGeneral Chemistry Laboratory

2

Plus one of the following options
Either these courses

PHYS 6AIntroductory Physics I

5

PHYS 6LIntroductory Physics I Laboratory

1

PHYS 6BIntroductory Physics II

5

PHYS 6MIntroductory Physics II Laboratory

1

or these courses

PHYS 5AIntroduction to Physics I

5

PHYS 5LIntroduction to Physics I Laboratory

1

PHYS 5BIntroduction to Physics II

5

PHYS 5MIntroduction to Physics II Laboratory

1

Plus one of the following options
Either these courses

EART 20Environmental Geology

5

EART 20LEnvironmental Geology Laboratory

1

or these courses

EART 5California Geology

5

EART 5LCalifornia Geology Laboratory

1

or these courses

EART 10Geologic Principles

5

EART 10LGeologic Principles Laboratory

1

Plus one of the following
ENVS 24General Ecology

5

BIOE 20CEcology and Evolution

5

Plus the following
ENVS 25Environmental Policy and Economics

5

Plus one of the following
ANTH 2Introduction to Cultural Anthropology

5

PHIL 22Introduction to Ethical Theory

5

PHIL 24Introduction to Ethics: Contemporary Moral Issues

5

PHIL 28Environmental Ethics

5

BME 80G
/PHIL 80G
Bioethics in the 21st Century: Science, Business, and Society

5

SOCY 1Introduction to Sociology

5

SOCY 10Issues and Problems in American Society

5

SOCY 15World Society

5

Upper-Division Courses

One of the following options
Either these courses

EART 110AEvolution of the Earth

5

EART 110LEvolution of the Earth Laboratory

2

or these courses

EART 110BEarth as a Chemical System

5

EART 110MEarth as a Chemical System Laboratory

2

or these courses

EART 110CThe Dynamic Earth

5

EART 110NThe Dynamic Earth Laboratory

2

Plus all of the following
ENVS 100Ecology and Society

3

ENVS 100LEcology and Society Writing Laboratory

5

Electives

The upper-division courses should be selected in pursuit of a coherent plan of study, such as water policy-hydrology, restoration ecology-geochemistry, agroecology-soil physical processes, or environmental policy-climate change, among others, in consultation with faculty from both the Environmental Studies and Earth and Planetary Sciences departments. None of the three environmental studies upper-division courses can be an environmental studies internship, individual study or substitution course.

Three upper-division environmental studies courses

Three additional upper-division environmental studies courses (numbered ENVS 101-ENVS 179) including at least one course based in the social sciences selected from the following upper-division courses:

ENVS 110Institutions, the Environment, and Economic Systems

5

ENVS 130BJustice and Sustainability in Agriculture

5

ENVS 140National Environmental Policy

5

ENVS 141Ecological Economics

5

ENVS 143Sustainable Development: Economy, Policy, and Environment

5

ENVS 145Green Cities

5

ENVS 146Water Quality: Policy, Regulation, and Management

5

ENVS 147Environmental Inequality/Environmental Justice

5

ENVS 149
/LGST 149
Environmental Law and Policy

5

ENVS 150Coastal and Marine Policy

5

ENVS 151Environmental Assessment

5

ENVS 154Amazonian Cultures and Conservation

5

ENVS 158Political Ecology and Social Change

5

ENVS 165Sustainable Water Systems

5

ENVS 172Environmental Risks and Public Policy

5

ENVS 173An Introduction to World Environmental History

5

ENVS 176Vulnerability, Complex Systems, and Disasters

5

None of the three environmental studies upper-division courses can be an environmental studies internship, individual study or substitution course. 

A list of which upper-division courses offered in the current year by the Environmental Studies Department are based in the natural sciences and in the social sciences is available on the department website.

Three upper-division Earth sciences courses

Three additional upper-division Earth sciences courses (Earth and Planetary Sciences courses numbered EART 100-EART 191C). A list of the upper-division courses offered by the Earth and Planetary Sciences Department is available on the department website.

Disciplinary Communication (DC) Requirement

Students of every major must satisfy that major's upper-division Disciplinary Communication (DC) requirement. The DC requirement for the environmental studies/Earth sciences combined major is satisfied by completing:

The following courses:
ENVS 100Ecology and Society

3

ENVS 100LEcology and Society Writing Laboratory

5

Plus one of the following options:
Either one of these courses

BIOE 151B
/ENVS 109B
Ecology and Conservation in Practice Supercourse: Ecological Field Methods Laboratory

5

ENVS 183BSenior Internship

5

ENVS 190Capstone Course: Environmental Problem Solving

5

ENVS 195BSenior Thesis Group

5

ENVS 196Senior Seminar

5

EART 195Senior Thesis

5

or these courses

EART 189AGeographic Information Systems with Applications in Earth Sciences

5

EART 189BSummer Field Study

5

Students taking the cross-listed course BIOE 151B/ENVS 109B are recommended to enroll in ENVS 109B.

Comprehensive Requirement

Students satisfy the senior comprehensive requirement in environmental studies or Earth sciences by completing either:

  • One of the senior comprehensive options for single environmental studies B.A. majors (see options listed below);
  • One of the senior comprehensive options for Earth sciences B.S. (see Comprehensive Requirement under the Earth Sciences B.S.).

The senior comprehensive may be satisfied by completing one of the options listed below. All courses used to satisfy the senior comprehensive requirement must be taken for a letter grade.

Before enrolling in the senior thesis or senior internship option, students must formally apply to work with a particular faculty mentor very early in their thesis or project preparation. The senior thesis and senior internship option require careful planning, additional independent research, and at least a two-quarter commitment.

Students with advanced skills in one of the graduate focal areas may also take a graduate seminar by invitation from the instructor.

Either this course

BIOE 151B
/ENVS 109B
Ecology and Conservation in Practice Supercourse: Ecological Field Methods Laboratory

5

or these courses

ENVS 183ASenior Internship

5

ENVS 183BSenior Internship

5

or this course

ENVS 190Capstone Course: Environmental Problem Solving

5

or these courses

ENVS 195ASenior Research

5

ENVS 195BSenior Thesis Group

5

or this course

ENVS 196Senior Seminar

5

Students taking the cross-listed course BIOE 151B/ENVS 109B are recommended to enroll in ENVS 109B.

ENVS 190 is offered in the spring and summer.

ENVS 183B and ENVS 195B are usually taken after successfully completing ENVS 183A and ENVS 195A respectively.

Planners

The following are two sample academic plans for students pursuing the environmental studies B.A. major without a concentration. Plan One is for incoming frosh and Plan Two is for incoming transfer students.

Plan One for Incoming Frosh

  Fall Winter Spring
1st (frosh) MATH 3 or AM 3 ENVS 25 CHEM 1A
  EART 5 & EART 5L SOCY/ANTH/PHIL
course
     
2nd (soph) ENVS 24 or BIOE 20C ENVS 100 & ENVS 100L* CHEM 1B & CHEM 1M
STAT 7 & STAT 7L MATH 11A PHYS 6A & PHYS 6L or
PHYS 5A & PHYS 5L
     
3rd (junior) CHEM 1C & CHEM 1N Upper-division ENVS PHYS 6B & PHYS 6M or
PHYS 5B & PHYS 5M
MATH 11B EART 110B & EART 110M Upper-division ENVS
     
4th (senior) Upper-division EART Upper-division EART Upper-division EART
Upper-division ENVS
(social sciences)
  Comprehensive 
requirement
     

*This course is also offered in the spring term.

This planner assumes that a student has placed into MATH 3 or AM 3

Students completing this major will have satisfied the SI, IN, PE-E, IS, IN, MF, and PR-E general education requirements. In addition, they will need to fulfill all remaining university, college, and general education requirements.

Students interested in taking the senior thesis or senior internship as their comprehensive requirement must take ENVS 195A (thesis) or ENVS 183A (internship)  in the quarter before completing ENVS 195B (thesis) or ENVS 183B (internship). Both the senior thesis and senior internship are two consecutive quarter commitments. 

Plan Two for Incoming Transfer Students

  Fall Winter Spring
3rd (junior) STAT 7 & STAT 7L ENVS 100 & ENVS 100L* Upper-division EART
MATH 11B EART 110B & EART 110M Upper-division ENVS
     
4th (senior) Upper-division ENVS Upper-division ENVS
(social sciences)
Comprehensive
requirement
Upper-division EART Upper-division EART  
     

*This course is also offered in the spring term.

This planner assumes that a student has completed all required lower-division courses—including UCSC or community college general education requirements—with the exception of STAT 7 and STAT 7L, which is only offered at UC Santa Cruz.

A transfer student who has completed the requirements for the Intersegmental General Education Transfer Curriculum (IGETC) before matriculating at UC Santa Cruz, with at most two course requirements left to complete, is allowed to satisfy IGETC in lieu of the UCSC general education requirements.

Students interested in taking the senior thesis or senior internship as their comprehensive requirement must take ENVS 195A (thesis) or ENVS 183A (internship) in the quarter before completing ENVS 195B (thesis) or ENVS 183B (internship). Both the senior thesis and senior internship are two consecutive quarter commitments.