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Major and Minor

Climate Studies Major | Environmental and Sustainability Studies Minor | Capstone

The Program in Climate and Environmental Studies offers a highly unique major in climate studies and a minor in environmental and sustainability studies. The program provides a timely opportunity for students to engage in interdisciplinary study of the relationship between societies, their environment, and climate change.

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Climate Studies Major

The climate studies major provides an innovative approach to the integration of the natural sciences, social sciences, and humanities. The major gives students a comprehensive perspective on climate change, its challenges, and its possible solutions. Almost every other program in the country focuses exclusively on climate science; our program also incorporates the arts, culture, human behavior, sociology, economics, engineering, and many other areas to provide an interdisciplinary understanding of climate studies. Students will learn across four key areas: knowledge, skills, attitudes, and ethics and values. The curriculum prepares students for the important work of socio-ecological problem solving and includes participation from faculty across Vanderbilt. The major prepares students for a wide range of careers across law, business, medicine, urban planning, green finance, consulting, and more.

Major Requirements

The major requires 30 credit hours and is designed to facilitate double majors or additional minors that match students’ individual needs. Please note that some of the courses require prerequisites, which students are responsible for meeting.

Core Curriculum

  1. Climate Studies Introduction: ENVS 1101
  2. Climate Science Foundation: EES 2110 or EES 3310
  3. Core Humanities Course: One course in the humanities with climate-related focus: ASIA 2308, CSET 3320W, ENGL 3730, 3731, HART 3233, HIST 1510, RLST 3472
  4. Core Social Sciences Course: One course in the social sciences with climate-related focus: ANTH 1111, 2114, 2225; ECON 4050 (only “Environmental Politics and Policy”); PSCI 3266; SOC 3311, 3317, 3319
  5. Core Natural Sciences Course: One course in the natural sciences with a climate-related focus: BSCI 3232, EES 2510, 3333, 4440, 4650, 4680, 4750
  6. Methods and Practices Courses: Two courses from the following: ANTH 2400, 3120, 3125, 3261; BME 2400; CE 3300; CMST 1501, 3800; CSET 2100, 3257; CS 1000; 2204, DHUM 1100, 1200; DS 1000, 1100, 2100, 3100; ECON 1500, 1510, 3035; HART 1740W, 2815; HIST 1515; HODC 3222; MATH 1010, 1100, 1201, 1301, 2810, 2821; PSY 2100, PSY-PC 2100, 2120; SOC 2100, 3002
  7. Specialization Electives: 9 credit hours. See the director of undergraduate studies for recommended concentration clusters. The nine additional credit hours may come from any of the courses listed above for #3, 4, and 5. They may also include the following additional courses: ANTH 2109, 2150, 2220, 3138, 3202, 3333W, 4154; ASIA 2306, 2309W; BSCI 1511, 2238, 3231, 3233, EES 2150, 2220W, 2309W, 2580, 3220, 3280, 3330, 4233, 4300; ECON 2170; ENVE 3610, 4305;  ENVS 4101, 4101W; CE 2120, 3300, 4300; CSET 3240W, 3890; ENGL 2330W; 3240W; HART 1740W, 2200, 3240W; HODC3650, HODH 3650, HODI 3270; PSCI 3253, 3264W, 3265; SOC 1030, 3314, 3312, 3316, 3318, 3319, 3321; UNIV 3315/5315

Electives and Areas of Concentration

Students can select an area of concentration to develop a deeper mastery in one discipline (but selecting a concentration is not required). Students must complete 9 credit hours in an area of concentration. Concentration areas may include (but are not limited to):

  • Climate analytics
  • Climate biology & ecology
  • Climate & environmental justice
  • Climate & religion
  • Human landscapes & climate
  • Climate arts & humanities
  • Climate & health
  • Communication & climate
  • Earth & climate science
  • Policies, organizations, and climate

Students should consult with the director of undergraduate studies to explore possible areas of concentration.

The nine additional credit hours may come from any of the courses listed in the major requirements section under #3, #4, and #5. They may also include the following additional courses: ANTH 2109, 2150, 2220, 3138, 3202, 3333W, 4145; ASIA 2306, 2309W; BSCI 1511, 2238, 3231, 3233, EES 2150, 2309W, 2510, 2480, 3220, 3280, 3330, 3480, 4233, 4300; ECON 2170; ENVE 3610, 4305; ENVS 4101, 4101W; CE 2120, 3300, 4300; CSET 3240W, 3890; ENGL 2330W; 3240W; HART 1740W, 3240W; HODI 3270, 3650 01, 3650 02; SOC 1030, 3314, 3312, 3116, 3318,  3119,3321; PSCI 3253, 3264W, 3265; UNIV 3315/5315

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Environmental and Sustainability Studies Minor

Human beings and their societies necessarily interact with and alter the Earth’s natural environment. The environmental and sustainability studies minor allows students to examine human interaction with the environment from the perspectives of the humanities and social sciences with some exposure to the environmental sciences and/or environmental engineering. The minor is flexible and can be added to any major.

Minor Requirements

Students must take a minimum of six courses (18 credit hours total) chosen from the courses listed below; additional relevant courses may be counted with approval from the program’s director of undergraduate studies. Courses must be distributed as follows:

(A) one natural science- and technology-intensive course;
(B) one humanities course;
(C) one social-behavioral sciences- and policy-intensive course;
(D) two additional courses from B and/or C; and
(E) a capstone course.

No more than two courses may be at the 1000 level. In addition, no more than 3 credit hours may be counted simultaneously toward both the environmental and sustainability studies minor and any other major or minor. Topics courses may count toward the minor with approval of the director of undergraduate studies in climate and environmental studies.

For questions about the minor, please contact Professor Zdravka Tzankova. Students who minor in environmental and sustainability studies will take a capstone course (see below). The minor with the capstone is an approved Immersion pathway.  Students often study abroad in the Denmark or New Zealand programs, and they can count as an Immersion experience, too.

Core Curriculum

  • Natural Science and Technology Intensive Courses: BSCI 1103, BSCI 2238, BSCI 2238L, BSCI 3233, EES 1030, EES 1070, EES 1080, EES 1111*, EES 1140, EES 1510, EES 1510L, EES 2110, EES 2150, EES 2510, EES 3220, EES 3220W, EES 3310, EES 3333, EES 4650, EES 4680, EES 4750, EES 4760, EES 4820, ENVE 3610, ENVE 4615, ENVE 4700, ES 1115*
  • Humanities Courses: AMER 1111*, AMER 4000*, AMER 4100*, CSET 3320W, ENGL 2316/2316W*, ENGL 3720/3720W*, ENGL 3730, ENGL 3898/3898W*, GSS (formerly WGS) 2268, GSS (formerly WGS) 2270, HART 2150, HART 2662, HART 3240W, HART 2782, HART 3790, HIST 1470, HIST 1480, HIST 1520, HIST 2139, HIST 2413, HIST 2413W, PHIL 1111*, PHIL 3611, PHIL 3612, RLST 2472, RLST 3472, RLST 3921
  • Social-Behavioral Sciences and Policy Intensive Courses: ANTH 1111*, ANTH 2109, ANTH 2114, ANTH 2150, ANTH 2220, ANTH 2220W, ANTH 2225, ANTH 2227, ANTH 3138, ANTH 3261, ANTH 4154, ECON 2170, GSS (formerly WGS) 1111*, HOD 3270, PSCI 3266, PSY 1111*, SOC 1020/1020W*, SOC 1030, SOC 1111*, SOC 3311, SOC 3312, SOC 3313, SOC 3314, SOC 3315, SOC 3316, SOC 3317, SOC 3318, SOC 3319, SOC 3321
  • Two additional courses: From lists B and/or C above.
  • Capstone: *Special topic and First-Year Writing Seminar courses require the approval of the program director to count toward the minor.

*Special topic and First-Year Writing Seminar courses require the approval of the program director to count toward the minor.

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Students in the minor in environmental and sustainability studies take a capstone course that provides a detailed overview of the primary concepts in environmental and sustainability studies and allows them to develop a research paper that also qualifies for Immersion credit.  The capstone paper can be used in subsequent applications to graduate school.

Previous Student Capstone Papers

  • A Fishy Epidemic: Sea Lice and Disease Mitigation in Salmon Aquaculture
  • Public Land Protection and Economic Development Across the Americas
  • Working Together: Co-Management of Natural and Cultural Resources with Native American Tribes in the United States
  • Policy Failures and Policy Future: Evaluating National Wetland Conservation Strategies
  • Why Do Hospitals Go Green? An Analysis of the Impact of Hospital Type on the Motivations Behind Green Initiatives
  • What do you Mean by “Business as Usual”? A Comparative Analysis of Corporate Sustainability Models
  • Water Conservation in Beverage Production: Examining Corporate Water Stewardship Programs
  • Grool(s)!: Why Green Schools are Great and Cool
  • From Victimhood to Empowerment: The Material and Social Benefits of Female Participation in Climate Adaptation
  • Ecotourism in Developing Countries: A Sustainable Alternative or a False Hope?
  • Trouble Down South: Environmental Disasters and Consequences of Environmental Racism in the Gulf Coast Region
  • The Ugly Face of Beauty: The Impact of Personal-care products on Health Disparities
  • Renewable Portfolio Standards: How they survive rollback attempts in red states
  • The Power of Rules: Regulation of Electrical Grids (and the Renewable Energy Transition)
  • Analyzing Variance in Solar Policy Outcomes in the Southeast U.S.
  • Microgrid Futures: Facilitating macro-scale transitions toward renewable energy
  • Growing Grassroots Gardens: The Impact of Organizational Structure on Implementation and Integration of Community Gardens
  • NAFTA and Mexico: The Harms of Industrial Agricultural Development in Pork and Corn Sectors
  • Aquaponics in Action: Comparing Organizational Missions and Strategies
  • Not Just a Matter of Willpower: Environmental Influence in Healthy Lifestyle Interventions
  • Gender, Technology, Culture, and Environmental Messaging in Studio Ghibli and Disney Animated Film
  • Sustainability in the Film-Making Industry
  • Why So Serious?: Using Humor as a Tool in Environmental Films
  • Greening of Live Music – Conservation, Content and Concerts
  • Clean Plates, Clear Shelves: Diverting Food Waste at the Retail Level
  • Good as Used: Comparing Organizational Forms in the Second-hand Clothing Industry
  • Closing the Loop: Evaluating Business Strategies for a Circular Economy
  • Wheels to a Green World: An Analysis of Successful Biking Programs in the US
  • Are We There Yet? The Relationship between Public Transit, Sustainable Development and Social Equity
  • Work smarter, not harder: relating level of economic development to smart transportation technology
  • Electrifying Asian Transportation: A Comparative Analysis of Economic Development and Vehicle Policies
  • Bridging Cities: Comparing Infrastructure Development in Industrializing Asian Megacities
  • Urban Sustainability and Resilience Planning: Adapting Cities for Contemporary and Future Environmental Shocks
  • Gold Standards for Greenspaces: Assessing Social Goals, Ecosystem Services, and Challenges
  • Placing the Local: The Impact of Geography and Demographics on Local Economies

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