General Questions about the Major

What is Environmental Studies at Humboldt?

The ENST Program, which was launched in 2012 and is housed in the College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences, is based on the premise that we don’t have environmental problems, we have human relationship problems. It is an interdisciplinary program, meaning that students will take classes in multiple departments that incorporate this common theme. Students tackle questions such as: how do we define ‘nature’ and who gets to decide who has access to what resources? We look at structures of power/privilege (e.g. race, class, gender, social structures of inequality, etc) to understand environmental concerns, and examine how social change around these concerns can occur. In addition, developing critical thinking skills is a vital part of this program; we analyze how problems are framed, who frames them, the implications of various solutions, and their historical, political, economic, and cultural contexts.

How is an interdisciplinary degree beneficial to me?

Interdisciplinary programs allow students to become a jack-of-all-trades. Since environmental issues have economic, cultural, political, geographical, and imaginative dimensions, the program exposes students to this broad understanding, which is a marketable skill in a wide range of fields. Very few environmental interdisciplinary programs emphasize the humanities and arts, or focus on social justice and social change, and these emphases make the program at Humboldt quite unique. Because the program exists in multiple departments, students learn to become versatile and understand multiple perspectives of any particular issue. This versatility, exposure to a variety of fields, grasp of how power operates in addressing environmental issues, and ability to facilitate between positions make our students stand out.

What can I expect while being in the program?

Because ENST is interdisciplinary, students can expect to take classes from different departments in all three colleges. This means that classes vary depending on the department it is located in. However, in general, classes in the ENST major emphasize reading, writing, research, and discussion. Most classes focus on developing critical thinking skills about normative claims about the environment. This differs from science-based environmental coursework in that there is more of a focus on analyzing social, political, geographic, economic, and cultural aspects of environmental concerns. You will be asked to engage actively with the material presented to you and to develop your own ideas, and to consider yourself as a future environmental leader and engaged citizen. You can also expect to be assisted in professional development through the ENST core courses, to help you make the most of your time here, and through regular advising sessions with faculty and peers. You can expect to join a thriving and passionate environmental studies community of students.

How much science is there in the program?

ENST is based in the College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences, so you will not be required to take the same science classes found in majors that are in the College of Natural Resources. The program draws on classes in Politics, Geography, Economics, English, Religious Studies, Art, and Native American Studies, for example, and because scientific literacy is central to addressing environmental problems, you will gain a base knowledge in ecological systems and earth sciences.

What skills can I gain in the program?

You will gain a variety of skills in this major--the ability to grasp complex environmental problems and articulate effective solutions, to critically analyze environmental messages in the media and culture more broadly, to facilitate between competing environmental interests, and to communicate effectively about environmental and social justice issues. The program helps students gain critical thinking skills that are necessary for analyzing the interrelationships between environmental and human systems. These skills will allow you to interpret and communicate complex ideas, which is beneficial to every student, no matter what their plans are after graduation. Furthermore, students will gain skills that are unique to an interdisciplinary program. Finally, each student is required to choose an emphasis area-- approximately 3 courses in an applied field (see the catalog for description of these emphasis areas)--that can be listed on a resume as a marketable “skillset.”

Are there jobs/internships for Environmental Studies majors?

Yes! The Environmental Studies major sets students up so that they graduate with a multitude of desirable skills that will be beneficial to many types of careers. Due to the interdisciplinary nature of the program, there are numerous options that students have when graduating with this degree. As our students graduate, we will post their profiles on our website to showcase the paths that ENST majors are taking. An ENST student will develop skills over the course of the program that are invaluable to employers. For instance, ENST students will graduate with the ability to interpret and communicate complex ideas effectively which is a skill that can be adapted to many different careers. By building career development into the curriculum, the Program also assists students in identifying career goals and working toward them proactively during their time at Humboldt.

Examples of jobs include: environmental educator, journalist/writer, environmental lawyer, non-profit administrator, environmental justice advocate, community organizer/activist

  • In collaboration with ENST, the Career Center offers a useful career guide that can help students understand the many options they have with an ENST major.
  • The Career Center provides a lot of help for career or graduate school exploration and planning (they can help you understand what your interests are, what skills you have, develop a resume, and help students with getting an internship).
  • The Career Center’s resource Handshake helps students post their qualifications for work while in college.

How do I plan out my semesters in the ENST program to ensure I complete in a timely way?

There is some flexibility to how you chart your coursework. Meeting with your advisor to best plan out coursework that fits your goals is strongly encouraged. Other tools you’ll want to be familiar with are:

  • The Five Year Course Rotation (found here) will be your best friend during your time in the ENST program. It will allow you to understand what semester classes are available (i.e. only in Fall, only offered every other year, etc), projected out for five years.
  • Other tools like a semester-by-semester chart and a four-year map (which gives a sample of what four years of coursework in ENST might look like) are also available on the ENST website.
  • The Advising Center has all kinds of tools online as well, which you should look at every semester (e.g. double-counting GE/DCG courses, information about unit caps, etc). Understanding when classes are offered will help you eliminate ones that won't fit into your long term plan. It is the best resource on campus for understanding how to plan out semesters, advising holds, GEAR, etc. Their website is useful for helping you understand each of these things and should be your go-to resource for advising questions that are not specifically about the major, but rather for considering bigger picture problems that involve major classes and GEs.
  • Speaking to other students, especially upperclassmen, will help you decipher what classes fit your wants and needs. The best resource for this would be to stop by the ENST club meetings.

How do I prepare for advising?

You need to have your advising hold lifted every semester (around registration time) by your advisor. Look for emails from your advisor indicating how/when to make appointments for advising. Be respectful of the mad rush your advisor will be experiencing by being on top of these instructions and coming prepared to make the most of your time. You can come prepared to your advising appointments every semester by doing the following:

  • Print, review, and bring a recent copy of your DARS report to your advising appointment.
  • Go over your remaining GE and major requirements and note those you would like to tackle next semester.
  • Review the online schedule of classes and build a tentative schedule. The online schedule of classes is made available a week or so earlier than the  registration window.
  • Make a list of questions.
  • Arrive on time, and be aware that each appointment is limited to 15 minutes.

You can access your DARS report through Student Center. You can access the online schedule here. Be sure you look at the days/times classes are offered so you can assemble a sample schedule prior to your appointment.

In order to get the best possible schedule--the earlier you register the better your chances are for getting into all of the classes you want--do not delay. Your registration time and date is listed in your Student Center.

Please note that these are the advisee’s (student) responsibilities:

  • Gather all relevant decision-making information
  • Clarify personal values and goals
  • Become knowledgeable about college programs, policies, and procedures
  • Be an active learner by participating fully in the advising experience
  • Ask questions if you do not understand an issue or have a concern

This is what you can expect from your advisor:

  • Assist students with planning class schedules consistent with the graduation and major requirements
  • Communicate university policies and procedures
  • Help students define and develop realistic goals
  • Match student needs with available resources; make appropriate referrals
  • Discuss linkage between academic preparation and careers

What are the complementary skillsets/emphases?

The complementary skillsets (or emphases) were designed to ensure that students will be able to choose an area in which they wish to develop more focused skills. They are created to give each student a skillset which can be marketable upon graduation. They do not appear on your transcripts or diploma, so it’s up to you to market these skills as needed (in your resume, in interviews, etc). Learn how to say “I have an emphasis in X, which means that I can do Y. Coursework in that emphasis included A, B, and C, which means I know Z.”

What minors are good to take that coincide well with the major?

It is hard to find a minor offered on the Humboldt campus that does not in some way relate to the ENST program. This stems from the interdisciplinary focus. Students have taken minors from a multitude of different departments. If a student knows that there is an area that they are interested in that appears to be lacking for them in the major requirements, then selecting a minor is a great way to resolve this. Some examples of minors done by ENST students include:

  • Indigenous People, Natural Resource Use, and the Environment
  • Water Resource Policy
  • Environmental Interpretation and Education
  • Environmental Ethics
  • Geography
  • Theatre (and Music or Art)
  • Botany
  • Wildlife
  • A language

Can I study abroad?

Yes! Humboldt provides many opportunities for students to study abroad and this is the same with the ENST program. To explore further, the Humboldt study abroad website will provide more information and resources. The Study Abroad office can help you search for programs that tailor to your particular focus within Environmental Studies (for example, you may be interested in Sustainable Development, or quite differently, environmental science and conservation, or alternatively, human rights and social justice, or spirituality and indigeneity. There are so many directions, and your advisor will make substitutions so that the coursework you take while abroad will count toward your degree.

Prospective Student Questions

Why is ENST so important?

As stated above, understanding how to solve environmental issues lies within understanding complex human relationships. Our ENST program draws upon environmental issues that stem from power/privilege, which is a unique perspective that differentiates this program from many others nationwide. Furthermore, the program's emphasis on interdisciplinary learning allows students to get a unique perspective and to understand multiple sides of environmental concerns.

How is ENST different from Environmental Management and Science?

The first major difference between these two majors is that ENST is within the College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences and EMS is in the College of Natural Resources and Sciences. Due to this difference, the core focus of each major is very different. In EMS, there is more of an emphasis on management, policies, and resources; however, ENST is rooted in understanding human relationships that are influenced by issues of power/privilege and its effect on the environment and people. An EMS major will take more lab and field work classes. An ENST major will spend more time in classes that are often discussion based that require students to actively engage with material and to communicate their ideas.

Transfer Student Questions

How long will this major take to complete?

For many reasons, this major is very popular amongst transfer students. One reason is that many of the classes offered in the major double count as upper division GEs. This will allow students to be able to graduate in a timely manner. Getting units to transfer over is a process that will begin during your time at the school you are transferring from (using Assist.org to identify GEAR classes that count at Humboldt, and by contacting the ENST Program Leader to see if other classes you’ve taken might be substitutable. To petition for these substitutions, bring syllabi and course descriptions to the ENST Program Leader. Students are encouraged to get these issues settled early so that they can graduate efficiently and according to their needs.