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Environmental Sociology Major

Program of Concentration in Environmental Sociology

Environmental Sociology is the study of the relationship between modern societies and the environment at a variety of scales, from households to global relations. It includes issues such as public understanding of environmental issues, the environment and inequality, environmental social movements and social change, and analysis of environmental reform and adaptation.  Environmental Sociology is different from environmental science, which is based in the natural sciences, and environmental studies, which includes courses from a wide range of disciplines, including engineering and the humanities. The department’s program in Environmental Sociology includes a solid introduction to sociology and sociological methods as well as foundation requirements in environmental science. The program prepares students for careers in government, the law, management, research and teaching, and the nonprofit sector.

Students majoring in Environmental Sociology are required to complete 33 credit hours of coursework. The major consists of four types of course: foundation social science courses, foundation environmental science courses, research skills, and environmental sociology courses.

Program I (Standard Track)
A total of at least 33 credit hours as follows:

(1) Foundation Courses in Sociology 6 credit hours

  • SOC 1020 or 1020W
  • SOC 3001

(2) Foundation Courses in Environmental Sciences at least 6 credit hours

  • Two courses from EES 1510, 1030, 1070, 1080, 1140, 1111, ** 2110, * 2510, * 2150 , 3220, * 4680, * 4750, * 4820; * at least one of which must address climate-related issues
    EES 1080, 1140, 2110,* 2510,* 2150, 4680,* 4820,* or another EES course as approved by the DUS of Environmental Sociology.
  • *Requires EES 1510 and the lab EES 1510L as prerequisites.
    **1111s require permission of the Director of Environmental Sociology.

(3) Research Skills 6 credit hours

  • SOC 2100 (or other statistics course approved by the DUS of Environmental Sociology) followed by or concurrent with
  • SOC 3002 or HOD 2500 for those majoring in HOD

(4) Environmental Sociology Core 15 credit hours

  • 15 credit hours selected from the following:
    SOC 3311, 3312, 3313, 3314, 3315, 3316, 3317, 318, 3321, 3604, 3605, 3881,* 3880,* 4981;* ENVS 4101
    (*as approved by the DUS of Environmental Sociology)

Program II (Honors Research Track in Environmental Sociology)

A total of at least 36 credit hours as follows:

The Honors Research Track offers superior majors in Environmental Sociology the opportunity to pursue intensive work through an independent research project. Students interested in pursuing the Honors Research Track in Environmental Sociology should contact the DUS of Sociology for more information. To be considered for the Honors Research Track in Environmental Sociology, a student must have a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.3 and a minimum GPA of 3.3 for courses that count toward the Environmental Sociology major. Students who are recommended for the program by the DUS of Sociology will typically begin the program in the first semester of their junior or senior year.

The Honors Research Track in Environmental Sociology requires:
1. Successful completion of requirements 1 through 3 in the Standard Track, for a total of at least 18 credit hours.
2. At least 12 credit hours from requirement 4 in the Standard Track.
3. Successful completion of at least two semesters of SOC 4981 (Honors Research). The first semester of 4981 (Honors Research) is a 3 credit hour seminar in which students develop the literature review and research plan for the honors thesis. In the second semester of 4981 (Honors Research), also for 3 credit hours, students must complete the research and data collection, data analysis, and initial write-up of results of the thesis. Students may elect to take a third or fourth semester of 4981 during their senior year, when they may, for example, work on revisions of the project and/or on publication. Students who begin the Honors Program in their senior year may also take more than 6 credit hours of 4981, up to a maximum of 12 credit hours.
4. Successful defense of the completed thesis through an oral defense attended by the chair and reader of the thesis; this oral defense typically takes place during the second semester of the student’s senior year. In order to earn honors in Environmental Sociology, students must successfully complete and defend an honors thesis before graduation.

Comprehensive Exam
In order to graduate with an Environmental Sociology major, students must take a comprehensive exam during their senior year. The exam is not graded, and no grade will appear on the student’s transcript. The purpose of the exam is to test the extent to which majors are retaining core aspects of the Environmental Sociology curriculum.

Effective Fall 2015, Vanderbilt University has introduced a new course catalog numbering scheme. For assistance with the translation between old and new numbers, please consult the Course Renumbering Lookup Tool.

David J. Hess, Director of Undergraduate Studies


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