Enviromental Studies


The Environmental Studies Program has been shaped largely in part by a student initiative that began in the 1970s. The program remains interdisciplinary in that each student is responsible for developing the proper mix of courses from the natural sciences, social sciences and humanities to meet his or her goals within the limits of the program's curriculum.

Through careful selection of the Environmental Studies Core and Elective courses, students are able to define a focus within the discipline such as public policy, social ecology, aquatic studies and concepts of nature.

Environmental Studies offers an interdisciplinary major, a B.A., and an interdisciplinary minor.


If you'd like to view a full listing of our course options in Environmental Studies or any other subject, please visit the Online Course Catalogue.

Click for the Course Catalogue


Requirements for the Major (B.A.)

interdisciplinary, 13 courses

ENV 110 or ENV 101; ENV 300 or ENV 301; two "ES Core" courses from different departments in each division; one "ES Tools" course; and four "ES Elective" courses from the ES Core and/or ES Elective course lists at the 200-level or above. The "ES Tools" course cannot also count as an ES Core or Elective. Students are asked to carefully select ES Core and Elective courses to define a focus, such as environmental science, public policy, aquatic studies, social ecology, or natural resources, and compliment your program with another major in a discipline.

Requirements for the Minor

interdisciplinary, 6 courses

ENV 110, ENV 101 or substitute one additional ES Core course; one ES Core course from each division; and two ES Elective courses from the ES Core and/or ES Elective course lists at the 200-level or above.

ES Courses and Electives (PDF)


Our students choose from a variety of introductory and advanced courses, each designed to provide students with an understanding of the environment as it relates to other disciplines.

Below, you'll find a sampling of some of our most popular classes, as well as suggestions for making Environmental Studies a part of your larger interdisciplinary experience at Hobart and William Smith Colleges.

ENV 200 Environmental Science


This rigorous course focuses on the science behind and plausible scientific solutions to pressing environmental issues. Learn about the complex scientific interrelationships of issues like population growth, ecosystems, exotic species, resource use, e.g., soil, mineral, water and energy resources, and the impact of their use on the planet, i.e., global warming, acid rain, pollution, toxicity, and waste disposal. Once you've examined environmental issues, enroll in BIO 238, Aquatic Biology, and develop a working knowledge of aquatic systems and the organisms that make up aquatic communities.

ENV 204 The Geography of Garbage


By focusing on the environmental, human health and human rights implications of garbage, this course will introduce you to what we like to call "garbography" or the global geography of garbage. Once you learn where garbage goes, find out where it comes from by studying the development of the present-day global food system in HIST 151, Food Systems in History.

ENV 215 Environment and Development in East Asia


Rapid development in East Asia has brought prosperity to many but has also created serious environmental problems. Explore the environmental challenges facing East Asia, inlcuding rivers and lakes suffering from pollution and algal blooms, polluted farmland from industrial chemicals and over-fertilization, and polluated cities from industry and automobiles. Then, examine the economic gains of international trade and see how financial relations among countries have very different consequences for different groups of people in ECON 240, International Trade.


Preparing Students to Lead Lives of Consequence.