Sep 30, 2020  
2019-2020 Catalog 
2019-2020 Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Environmental Studies, B.A.

Return to {$returnto_text} Return to: Degree and Program Offerings

SBSB 4115

(760) 750-4200

Program Director:
Greig Guthey, Ph.D.

Click Here for Complete Faculty Listing  

Program of Study

The Environmental Studies Program at California State University San Marcos provides a collaborative setting for faculty, students, and community partners to study environmental and land-use issues. The degree includes introductory training in physical sciences, life sciences, social sciences, geographic information systems (GIS), environmental policy and law, land-use planning, environmental ethics, research methods, and environmental arts and humanities.

The multidisciplinary core of the degree comprises four general areas:

  • Life and Physical Sciences provides the scientific background for the major, consisting of courses in biology, chemistry, physics, ecology, and geomorphology.
  • Social Sciences and Policy exposes students to institutional and legal frameworks of environmental policy, and to processes by which policy is established.
  • Research Methods prepares students with the tools – GIS, and research methods – necessary for applied work in the professional arena, and also for graduate studies.
  • Environmental Arts and Humanities encourages students to think critically, ethically, and aesthetically about the environment.

Students who graduate with a B.A. in Environmental Studies will:

  1. Understand process of ecological systems and how human systems – such as social, cultural, and political systems – interact with the environment on local, regional, and global scales.
  2. Develop an understanding of environmental philosophy, art, and literature with the ability to evaluate environmental issues ethically and aesthetically.
  3. Develop an understanding of the environmental impact review process including concepts such as cost-benefit analysis, risk assessment, mitigation, and the precautionary principle. Gain basic understanding of landmark environmental policy as well as major international environmental accords.
  4. Develop introductory competence in geographic information systems (GIS).
  5. Develop an understanding of environmental justice and critically examine the interactions of human/social systems and the environment, using the lens of race/ethnicity, class and gender and along North-South divide.
  6. Develop strong writing, critical thinking, communicative, and research skills.
  7. Develop an understanding of conflicts over values as well as conflict resolution in environmental issues.
  8. Understand environmental policy making processes locally, nationally, and globally, and how policy is established through formal and informal collective decision making processes involving actors and stakeholders inside and outside of the formal sectors of government.

The degree is designed so that ENVS 100 - Introduction to Environmental Studies  addresses all nine learning outcomes at an introductory level. Specific courses reinforce particular learning outcomes as a student progresses through the degree. The degree culminates with ENVS 490 - Capstone in Environmental Studies , which integrates the entire coursework to produce an original research project that focuses on intellectual interests and professional objectives of a student. In this spirit, the Capstone project is the ultimate assessment of how well a student satisfied the learning objectives. Thus, it is natural that the initial program evaluation focuses on assessing the degree to which our graduates’ capstone projects satisfy the student learning outcomes.

Career Opportunities

Students will be prepared to pursue diverse careers in environmental policy, consulting, advocacy, communication, education, law, planning and analysis, and recreation and land management in the public, private and non-profit sectors.

Special Conditions for the Bachelor of Arts in Environmental Studies

A grade of C (2.0) or better must be received in each course taken for the B.A. degree in Environmental Studies or in Preparation for the Major. At least 18 units of the required upper-division courses for the degree must be taken at Cal State San Marcos.

General Education (48 Units)

General Education Requirements  

One of the Following Courses May Be Recommended for Students With Relevant Research Interests:


*BIOL 105  may also be used to meet the “B2 Life Sciences” lower-division General Education Requirements .

**ENVS 100  may also be used to meet the “D7 Interdisciplinary Social Sciences” lower-division General Education Requirements .

*** GES 101  may also be used to meet the “B1 Physical Sciences” and “B3 Laboratory” lower-division General Education Requirements .

**** GES 105  may also be used to meet the “B1 Physical Sciences” lower-division General Education Requirements .

Language Proficiency (0-9 Units)

All Environmental Studies majors must meet a second-language proficiency requirement. This is satisfied with a 200-level class or demonstrating proficiency in a language other than English. For details on how to satisfy this requirement, please refer to Language Proficiency Requirement  .

Breadth Requirement (3 Units)

Additional course in Upper-Division Social Sciences (DD designated) or Upper-Division Arts and Humanities (CC designated) outside the major.  This requirement can also count as the DD requirement or CC requirement (as appropriate) in Upper-Division General Education, but it must be a course in a program other than Environmental Studies.  Any course carrying the DD or CC designation outside of  Environmental Studies  can be used to fulfill this requirement.  If students choose to satisfy their UDGE DD or CC with a course outside the major, the breadth requirement will become 3 free elective units.      

Major Requirements (36 Units)

Upper-Division Electives (24 Units)

24 units chosen from courses listed in Arts and Humanities, Social Science, and Natural Sciences with at least six units completed in each area. Courses listed in multiple areas can only be counted as part of the six  units in one area.

Approved Course Lists

Social Sciences

Return to {$returnto_text} Return to: Degree and Program Offerings