Undergraduate Bulletin

Fall 2023

Requirements for the Major and Minor in Environmental Studies (ENS)

Environmental Studies (BA)

The Bachelor of Arts in Environmental Studies major is designed to provide students with the analytical and communication skills and the broad background necessary to understand and address complex environmental issues. Environmental issues are not resolved in the scientific, technological, social, or political arenas alone. The curriculum is, therefore, interdisciplinary and integrates principles and methodologies from the social sciences, the natural sciences, and humanities. The goal is to address the complex scientific, legal, political, socio­economic and ethical issues that define and surround environmental issues. The Bachelor of Arts in Environmental Studies prepares the student for further education and for entry-level employment in areas such as public interest science and advocacy, environmental conservation, law, journalism, management, television documentary production, ecotourism, population studies, and public service including public health.

To demonstrate depth of learning, an area of concentration is required of all students in the major. Additionally, a research course, an internship, or field study is an essential part of the curriculum to provide real-world experience in an appropriate subject area.

The Environmental Studies major (BA) is administered by the School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences. An Environmental Studies Academy and a minor, with a residential component, are also available. The Environmental Studies Academy, which is part of the Science and Society College, offers special programs, such as a seminar series showcasing faculty research and selected courses in the major and minor. Students may not pursue the ENS or COS minor in conjunction with the major.

Completion of the major requires approximately 62 credits. Of these, no more than one course (4 credits) with a grade lower than C can be credited to the major.  

Requirements for the Major in Environmental Studies 

A. Foundation Courses (36 credits)

B. Core Courses (14 credits)

  • ATM 305 Global Atmospheric Change or ENV 304 Global Environmental Change
  • ENS 311/BIO 386 Ecosystem Ecology and Global Environment
  • MAR 340 Environmental Problems and Solutions or ENS 312 Population, Technology, and Environment
  • ENS 301 Contemporary Environmental Issues and Policies or SUS 305 Collective Action and Advocacy
  • At least two credits from one of the following courses: ENS 443 Environmental Problem Solving, ENS 487 Independent Research, or ENS 488 Internship (see Notes 2 & 3)

C. Concentration (12 credits) 
Students should select four upper division courses in a thematic area in consultation with the undergraduate director. Some sample concentrations are listed below, but other possibilities may be approved if discussed in advance with the departmental advisor. For all concentrations, appropriate substitutions will be permitted with approval of the undergraduate director.

1. Conservation Biology/Biological Anthropology
Four courses from the following:

  • ANP 307 Comparing Ecosystems in Madagascar
  • ANP 321 Primate Evolution
  • ANP 350 Methods in Studying Primates
  • ANP 360 Primate Conservation
  • MAR 315 Marine Conservation
  • BIO 336 Conservation Biology
  • BIO 351 Ecology
  • BIO 353 Marine Ecology
  • BIO 356 Applied Ecology and Conservation and Biology Lab
  • One of the following: MAR 373 Marine Apex Predators: Ecology & Conservation*, MAR 376 Biology & Conservation of Sea Turtles, MAR 377 Biology & Conservation of Seabirds
  • SUS 326 Conservation Genetics

2. Marine Science, Marine or Terrestrial Ecology
Four courses from the following:

Ecology themed:

Marine Science themed:

3. Environmental Law, Waste Management, and Public Policy
Four courses from the following:

  • AAS 352/HIS 352 Environ. History of China
  • ENS 333/POL 333 Environ. Law
  • ENV 316 Coastal Zone Management
  • GEO 313 Understanding Water Resources
  • HIS 302 Environ. History in Global Perspective
  • HIS 365 Environ. History of N. America*
  • MAR 336 Marine Pollution
  • MAR 392 Waste Management Issues
  • MAR 393 Waste Management Treatment Tech.
  • MAR 394 Environ. Toxicology and Public Health
  • PHI 364 Philosophy of Technology
  • PHI 375 Philosophy of Law
  • POL 320 Constitutional Law and Politics: US
  • POL 351 Social Surveys in Contemporary Society
  • POL 359 Public Policy Analysis
  • SOC 344 Environmental Sociology
  • SUS 309 Global Environmental Politics
  • SUS 317 American Environmental History
  • SUS 318 American Environmental Politics
  • SUS 321 Ecology and Evolution in American Literature
  • SUS 325 Environmental Writing and the Media
  • SUS 329 Environmental Film, Media, Arts
  • SUS 330 Extreme Events in Literature
  • SUS 344 Sustainable Natural Resources
  • SUS 366/PHI 366 Philosophy of the Environ.
  • SUS 405 Environmental Sustainability in Tanzania

*These courses have additional prerequisites outside the major 

D. Upper-Division Writing Requirement

The advanced writing component of the major in ENS requires registration in, and satisfactory completion of, the 0-credit MAR 459 or SUS 459 (S/U grading) along with enrollment in an approved advanced course that entails writing of either a term paper or a laboratory report.  Completion of MAR 459 or SUS 459 with a grade of S will also result in fulfillment of the WRTD requirement.  A list of preapproved courses can be found at  http://www.somas.stonybrook.edu/education/undergraduate/.

1. PHY 121 or PHY 125/PHY 126/PHY 133 or PHY 131/PHY 133 or PHY 141/PHY 133 may be substituted for PHY 119/ENS 119.
2. Two credits of any course numbered 487 or equivalent with one of the following designators: ANP, ANT, ATM, BCP, BIO, CHE, ECO, ENS, ENV, EST, GEO, MAR, PHY, POL, SUS. In addition to other prerequisites, credit toward the major requires approval of the research topic by the SoMAS Director of Undergraduate Studies.
3. Two credits of any course numbered 488 or equivalent with one of the following designators: ANP, ANT, ATM, BCP, BIO, CHE, ECO, ENS, ENV, EST, GEO, MAR, PHY, POL, SUS. In addition to other prerequisites, credit toward the major requires approval of the internship by the SoMAS Director of Undergraduate Studies.
4. CHE 129/CHE 130 may be substituted for CHE 131.
5. AMS 110, AMS 310, BIO 211, ECO 320, POL 201, PSY 201, or SOC 202 may be substituted for AMS 102.


Honors Program in Environmental Studies

Graduation with departmental honors in Environmental Studies requires the following:

1. Students are eligible to participate in the Honors Program if they have a 3.50 GPA in all courses for the major by the end of the junior year. Students should apply to the SoMAS undergraduate director for permission to participate.
2. Students must prepare an honors thesis based on a research project written in the form of a paper for a scientific journal. A student interested in becoming a candidate for honors should submit an outline of the proposed thesis research project to the SoMAS undergraduate director as early as possible, but no later than the second week of classes in the last semester. The student will be given an oral examination in May on his or her research by his or her research supervisor and the undergraduate research committee. The awarding of honors requires the recommendation of this committee and recognizes superior performance in research and scholarly endeavors. The written thesis must be submitted before the end of the semester in which the student is graduating.
3. If the student maintains a GPA of 3.5 in all courses in their major through senior year and receives a recommendation by the undergraduate research committee, he or she will receive departmental honors. 

Study Abroad

Stony Brook University offers study abroad experiences that are focused on issues of sustainability in Costa Rica, Madagascar, and the Turkana Basin (Kenya). While issues of climate change, water and energy security, sustainable agriculture, environmental justice, sustainable economic development, conservation of unique and threatened ecosystems, population growth, and human health are important everywhere, viewing these issues through the lens of a different place and a different culture provides a valuable perspective. Students are encouraged to participate in study abroad experiences and to talk with their major director to determine how study abroad coursework can be used to fulfill some requirements for their major.

Requirements for the Minor

All core courses must be taken at Stony Brook University. No more than two courses applied to the minor can count toward the student’s major or other minor. No more than one elective course in the minor may be taken under the Pass/No Credit option; all other courses required for the minor must be passed with a letter grade of C or higher. (Note: The P/NC option carries financial implications. All students should check with their financial aid advisor before choosing this option.)

Declaration of the Minor

Each ENS minor is open to all undergraduate students and takes approximately 4 semesters (fall/spring) to complete and students are encouraged to declare before the start of their sophomore year but no later than the first semester of their junior year depending on target date of graduation. Students should consult with the Faculty Director as soon as possible and plan their course of study for fulfillment of their degree requirements.

Completion of the minor requires 18 credits.

1. One introductory course chosen from the following:

2. ENS 101 Prospects for Planet Earth or SUS 111 Introduction to Sustainability
3. ENS 301 Contemporary Environmental Issues and Policies
4. ENS 443 Environmental Problem-Solving OR at least 3 credits of (i) ENS 487: Independent Research in Environmental Studies; or (ii) research in any SBU department; or (iii) ENS 488: Internship in Environmental Studies, approved by the faculty director. Research or internship in ANP, ANT, ATM, BIO, CHE, ECO, ENV, GEO, MAR, POL, or SUS will be accepted with permission of the faculty director.
5. Two advanced courses chosen from the following:

  • ANP 360 Primate Conservation
  • ANT 420 Environmental Analysis Using Remote Sensing and Geographic Information Systems
  • ATM 397 Air Pollution and Its Control
  • BIO 351 Ecology
  • BIO 353 Marine Ecology
  • CHE 310 Chemistry in Technology and the Environment
  • GEO 304 Energy, Mineral Resources, and the Environment
  • GEO 315 Groundwater Hydrology
  • GSS 355 Remote Sensing GIS Data
  • SUS 311 Disasters and Society: A Global Perspective
  • SUS 312 Environment, Society, and Health
  • SUS 315 Ethnographic Field Methods
  • SUS 318 American Environmental Politics
  • SUS 325 Environmental Writing and the Media
  • Any upper division ENS or MAR course