Sustainability and Environmental Studies

Division II Chair: S. Hall


Department Chair: N. Gift


Faculty: N. Gift




Courses: SENS Courses


Course Sequencing Table: Sustainability and Environmental Studies


Major/Minor Requirements: Sustainability and Environmental Studies Minor

Sustainability refers to the capacity of individuals, communities, and societies to coexist while maintaining social justice, environmental integrity, and economic well-being, both today and for future generations. The SENS Department is an interdisciplinary academic program centered on the purposeful integration of human actions with the structures and functions of the natural world. Conservation of natural resources and environmental justice are equally important initiatives. The goal is to help students acquire the knowledge and practical skills necessary to thrive. Our Department strives for development of justice-minded individuals, resilient communities, and a more sustainable society. 

The College does not offer a major in Sustainability and Environmental Studies. However, students interested in proposing an Independent Major in this area should consult with the SENS Department Chair or faculty members.


In addition to supporting students' achievement of the Aims of General Education, the Sustainability & Environmental Studies Department seeks to assist students in meeting the following learning goals and associated learning outcomes:

SENS Student Learning Goals and Outcomes

Learning Goal 1: Understand Ecology, Sustainability, and Ecological Design

Learning Outcome 1.1: Biophysical Underpinning of Human Economy
Understand the biophysical underpinnings of the human economy.

Learning Outcome 1.2: Basic Principles of Exponential and Logistic Growth

Predict future growth of a population, given the carrying capacity and an example growth rate from that population at some moment in the past.

Learning Outcome 1.3: Thorough Knowledge of Primary Threats to Economic and Social Sustainability

Obtain a thorough knowledge of the primary threats to economic and social sustainability including peak oil, climate change, population growth, environmental degradation, and social anarchy.

Learning Outcome 1.4: Fundamentals of Ecological Design

Comprehend the fundamentals of ecological design–the purposeful integration of human actions with the structures and functions of the natural world–and the importance of knowledge of place in successful ecological design.

Learning Outcome 1.5: Effective Communication

Effectively communicate, orally and in writing, about topics, skills, and challenges in Sustainability and Environmental Studies.
Learning Goal 2: Acquisition of Practical Skills

Learning Outcome 2.1: Master Practical Skills

Master practical skills for increasing household resilience in one or more areas including food, energy, water, shelter, health.

Learning Outcome 2.2: Acquire Practical Skills

Acquire practical skills for increasing community resilience.

Learning Goal 3: Thinking Broadly and About the Future

Learning Outcome 3.1: Understand Complexity

Understand complexity and the need to examine the world through multiple lenses and perspectives.

Learning Outcome 3.2: Moral Imperative of Serving

Appreciate the moral imperative of serving as good stewards of a world that students have borrowed from future generations.

Environmental Science, B.A.

Division II Chair: S. Hall


Department Chair: N. Gift


Faculty:  S. Birner, D. Feinberg, N. Gift, & M. Parr






Course Sequencing Table: 


Major/Minor Requirements: Environmental Science, B.A.


The BA in Environmental Science is an interdisciplinary major that prepares students for work and graduate study in solving an array of environmental challenges including pollution, biodiversity loss, climate change, and environmental health. 


Environmental Studies Learning Goals and Outcomes 


Learning Goal 1. Identify, explain, and propose solutions to complex social-ecological problems


Learning Outcome 1.1: Analyze environmental justice issues, such as water pollution, and understand the basic science as well as identify possible policy solutions.


Learning Outcome 1.2: Contribute to calculations of economic valuation of environmental quality.


Learning Outcome 1.3: Map environmental resources alongside human development and identify and predict places where and what types of human developments will cause the most damage.


Learning Goal 2: Demonstrate facility with the scientific process 


Learning Outcome 2.1: Formulate testable hypotheses.


Learning Outcome 2.2: Design and complete experiments.


Learning Outcome 2.3: Draw rational conclusions from experimental data.


Learning Goal 3: Plan and predict impacts of human activity on physical earth processes.


Learning Outcome 3.1: Put timescales into perspective; demonstrate understanding of how long geologic time is and how short humanity’s time on Earth has been in comparison.


Learning Outcome 3.2: Describe, plan to prevent, and predict how changing one aspect of the planet (e.g., mining coal) has far-reaching consequences across various systems (e.g., increased CO2 in the atmosphere, landslides due to slope destabilization, acid-mine drainage due to exposure of sulfide minerals).


Learning Outcome 3.3: Demonstrate systems thinking about the Earth and its various realms. For instance, students should be able to describe ways in which the geosphere (solid rock) affects the hydrosphere and vice-versa. 


Learning Goal 3: Describe and analyze ecosystems and biological processes as they relate to Earth resources


Learning Outcome 4.1: Interpret the geology and ecology of a region to the region’s past, present, and future.


Learning Outcome 4.2: Apply the geological and ecological knowledge in the context of economy, ecology, and equity. (For instance, students should be able to first identify that a region consists primarily of limestone and then interpret that the soil in the region might be particularly Ca-rich and/or that the region might be at risk for sinkholes and/or that concrete production might be an important industry in the region.

Sustainability and Environmental Studies Minor