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Curriculum

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:

  1. 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 scales.
  2. Develop an understanding of environmental philosophy, art, and literature with the ability to evaluate environmental issues ethically and aesthetically.
  3. 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.
  4. Develop introductory competence in geographic information systems (GIS).
  5. 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.
  6. Develop strong writing, critical thinking, communicative, and research skills.
  7. Develop an understanding of conflicts over values as well as conflict resolution in environmental issues.
  8. 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 of government.

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 learning outcomes.