The major prepares students for a wide range of careers across law, business, public health, urban planning, public policy, green finance, consulting, the media, the arts, education, research, and more. See our Career Outcomes for more information.
Vanderbilt offers three climate-related programs of study: climate studies, environmental sociology, and Earth and environmental sciences.
The climate studies major focuses primarily on climate change, its challenges, and its possible solutions. The interdisciplinary program explores climate change from a range of different perspectives and fields, incorporating the humanities, social sciences, and natural sciences. The environmental sociology major considers the full array of environmental problems and solutions, including waste and recycling, ecosystem destruction, water and air pollution, sustainable buildings and technologies, and natural resource and wildlife management. The Earth and environmental sciences major is based in the natural sciences, providing a grounding in the cycling of energy and materials through the Earth’s spheres.
The climate studies major can be combined with either of the other two as a double major (it can also be paired with the minor in Earth and environmental sciences). Note, however, that there are limits on the number of courses that can count toward both majors simultaneously.
This minor is also offered by the Program in Climate and Environmental Studies. It has a similar structure and philosophy to the climate studies major. In other words, students take courses from the three areas of the natural sciences, humanities, and social sciences. The minor does not require a climate studies focus and can include other environmental topics such as the ones listed above for the environmental sociology major. However, the minor also allows students who want to study climate change to focus mostly on climate-related courses. The minor in environmental and sustainability studies can be combined with a wide range of majors and minors, including the majors in environmental sociology and in Earth and environmental sciences.
The Climate and Environmental Studies program offers a wide range of Immersion experiences. These experiences can include study abroad, internships, research projects, and more. Many Immersion experiences bridge actionable research and applied problem-solving. Learn more about Immersion and Internships.
Climate change is one of the most pressing and serious challenges facing our world, and it will affect us for generations to come. Both students and faculty have supported the creation of an interdisciplinary climate studies major, and we knew we needed to train the next generation of leaders to address this issue. At the same time, at the highest levels of scholarship and research, such as the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine, and the National Science Foundation, there was growing recognition that climate change is fundamentally an interdisciplinary problem. They also recognize that addressing climate change requires not only excellent research within different scholarly disciplines (environmental science, sociology, economics, engineering, psychology, political science, communication, history, etc.), but also the synthesis of knowledge across those disciplines. Part of the motivation for creating this major was to address this national need for training college students in interdisciplinary approaches to climate change and other great challenges facing society.
Once you’ve completed the common core of the major, you can select from one of 13 areas of specialization. This format provides you with the necessary foundational knowledge about climate, and then allows you to develop deeper expertise in an area about which you are passionate. However, choosing a specialization is not mandatory, and there is also the freedom to create an individualized specialization by consulting with your faculty adviser. Learn more about the Electives and Areas of Concentration.