The Environmental Studies Program at California State University San Marcos provides
a collaborative setting for faculty, students, and community partners to study environmental
and land-use issues. The degree includes introductory training in physical sciences,
life sciences, social sciences, geographic information systems (GIS), environmental
policy and law, land-use planning, environmental ethics, research methods, and environmental
arts and humanities.
The multidisciplinary core of the degree comprises four general areas:
- Life and Physical Sciences provides the scientific background for the major, consisting
of courses in biology, chemistry, physics, ecology, and geomorphology.
- Social Sciences and Policy exposes students to institutional and legal frameworks
of environmental policy, and to processes by which policy is established.
- Research Methods prepares students with the tools – GIS, and research methods – necessary
for applied work in the professional arena, and also for graduate studies.
- Environmental Arts and Humanities encourages students to think critically, ethically,
and aesthetically about the environment.
Students who graduate with a B.A. in Environmental Studies will:
- Understand process of ecological systems and how human systems – such as social, cultural,
and political systems – interact with the environment on local, regional, and global
- Develop an understanding of environmental philosophy, art, and literature with the
ability to evaluate environmental issues ethically and aesthetically.
- Develop an understanding of the environmental impact review process including concepts
such as cost-benefit analysis, risk assessment, mitigation, and the precautionary
principle. Gain basic understanding of landmark environmental policy as well as major
international environmental accords.
- Develop introductory competence in geographic information systems (GIS).
- Develop an understanding of environmental justice and critically examine the interactions
of human/social systems and the environment, using the lens of race/ethnicity, class
and gender and along North-South divide.
- Develop strong writing, critical thinking, communicative, and research skills.
- Develop an understanding of conflicts over values as well as conflict resolution in
- Understand environmental policy making processes locally, nationally, and globally,
and how policy is established through formal and informal collective decision making
processes involving actors and stakeholders inside and outside of the formal sectors
The degree is designed so that ENVS 100 - Introduction to Environmental Studies addresses all nine learning outcomes at an introductory level. Specific courses reinforce
particular learning outcomes as a student progresses through the degree. The degree
culminates with ENVS 490 - Capstone in Environmental Studies, which integrates the entire coursework to produce an original research project that
focuses on intellectual interests and professional objectives of a student. In this
spirit, the Capstone project is the ultimate assessment of how well a student satisfied
the learning objectives. Thus, it is natural that the initial program evaluation focuses
on assessing the degree to which our graduates’ capstone projects satisfy the student