Sep 18, 2020  
Course Catalog 2005-2006 
Course Catalog 2005-2006 [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Environmental Studies

Return to {$returnto_text} Return to: College of Arts and Sciences


The major consists of a minimum of 15 hours of coursework in the Natural Sciences, six courses totaling at least 18 hours in the Social Sciences and Humanities, and a statistics course. In addition, some of the courses have prerequisites that are not listed here. At least 20 of the credit hours counted toward the major must be taken at Oberlin. Courses must be selected to meet the following requirements. (N.B: If the ENVS requirements change after the major is declared, students can choose to comply with either the requirements in place at the time of their declaration of major or the revised requirements.)

Please consult individual departmental listings for full course descriptions and availability in a given semester and year. Not all of these courses are offered every year.

Social and Behavioral Sciences/Arts and Humanities Requirements

Majors must take six courses totaling at least 18 hours in Social Sciences and Humanities consisting of the following:

  1. Environmental Studies 101 (Environment and Society) is required of all majors. It is normally to be taken during the first two years.
  2. Students must take either ENVS 208 or ECON 231.

Students must take an additional 12 credit hours in either Social Science or Arts and Humanities. No more than two of four courses may come from a single department. ENVS 208 may count as an elective Environmental Studies course. Majors may take POLT 237 and 321 in addition to ENVS 208. At least one Humanities course is highly recommended. Certain courses previously offered can also be counted towards the Environmental Studies major.

Natural Sciences Requirements

Majors must take at least 15 hours of coursework in the Natural Sciences. Biology 120, Geology 120 and either Chemistry 101, 102, 103 or 151 MUST be included among these 15 hours. The balance of the 15 hours in natural science must be selected from courses in the Biology, Chemistry, Geology, and/or Physics Departments, and they must EITHER count towards one of those four majors OR be cross-referenced with Environmental Studies.

Additional Requirement

Majors must take ONE course in statistics or research methods selected from the following: Chemistry 211, Mathematics 090, 100, 113, or 114, Sociology 211. (N.B: of these courses, only Chemistry can also be counted as part of the 15 hours in natural science).


ENVS 490 and ENVS 491 combined count for three hours.


A student may pursue a minor in Environmental Studies by submitting a plan of study for approval (the minor form is available from the Office of the Registrar) and a one-page rationale to the program director. A minor must include a minimum of 15 hours in at least five Environmental Studies courses, including two or more components of work at the nonintroductory level. There must be at least seven hours of work in the natural sciences and at least seven in social sciences and/or humanities. At least ten hours must be taken at Oberlin.


In addition to coursework, the following opportunities are available to students interested in environmental problems.

  1. Internships with government agencies (e.g., public schools, Forest Service, EPA) or private organizations (e.g., Nature Conservancy, International Audubon Society, National Science Foundation) involved in some aspect of environmental research, regulation, or advocacy may be a valuable learning and career planning experience. Internships may be undertaken during Winter Term, an off-campus semester, or in the summer. Normally these internships do not earn academic credit. Files of volunteer and paid internships are maintained in the Resource Center of the A. J. Lewis Center for Environmental Studies.
  2. During Winter Term the Environmental Studies Program often sponsors an on-campus group project which provides an opportunity for students to earn Winter Term credit as either participants, group leaders, or coordinators. In recent years projects dealt with architecture and ecological design, Black River Watershed education, and community gardens.
  3. The Honors Program in Environmental Studies involves completion of an independent research project during the student’s senior year and an oral examination on the research. The project involves ongoing consultation with at least two faculty members. Qualified majors will be invited to apply during their junior year, with applications due April 15. Acceptance into the Honors Program is based on the student’s academic achievements, the suitability of the proposed project, and his or her potential to do substantial independent research. Detailed guidelines for the Environmental Studies Honors Program are available in the program office.
  4. The program sponsors a series of public lectures by guest speakers and faculty members.
  5. Students may schedule a private reading course during their junior or senior years. In the past, students have taken private readings in ecological design, ecological economics and eco-feminism. Work done through Private Reading does not count toward completion of the major.

Joyce Gorn Memorial Prize

In the spring semester, the Program Committee awards the Joyce Gorn Memorial Prize to one or more students for outstanding work on an extracurricular or offcampus environmental project.

Ann Schaening Memorial Fund

Funds are available to assist students with Winter Term projects in Environmental Studies. Interested students may submit a project proposal to the Chair of the Environmental Studies Program Committee for approval by the Committee.

Social Science Courses

Humanities Courses

English (ENGL)

  • ENGL 255 - In Search of America: The Concept of Nature in Early American Writing
  • ENGL 366 - Nature and Transcendentalism

Philosophy (PHIL)

Natural Science Courses

Physics (PHYS)

  • PHYS 066 - Energy Technology I
  • PHYS 067 - Energy Technology II

Individual Projects

Projects for original investigations developed by students in consultation with faculty. Research is typically undertaken after advanced coursework. Honors students enroll in research for both semesters during their senior year. A maximum of three credit hours (four for students who complete Honors) count toward the major. Consent of a faculty sponsor is required.

Resource Faculty

Art: Ms. Schuster
Biology: Mr. Benzing, Ms. Garvin, Mr. Laushman
Chemistry: Mr. Elrod, Ms. Hargett
Economics: Ms. Gaudin
English: Mr. Hobbs, Mr. McMillin
Environmental Studies: Ms. Janda, Mr. Orr, Mr. Petersen, Ms. Wolfe-Cragin
Geology: Mr. Hubbard, Ms. Moore, Ms. Parsons-Hubbard, Mr. Simonson
History: Ms. Stroud
Philosophy: Mr. Ganson
Politics: Mr. Kahn, Ms. Sandberg, Mr. Schiff, Mr. Wilson
Rhetoric and Composition: Ms. McMillin
Russian: Mr. Newlin
Sociology: Mr. Norris

Return to {$returnto_text} Return to: College of Arts and Sciences