ENST Majors have some fun at the People's Climate March in Oakland, February 2015Why Environmental Studies?

Do you love the natural world but also love thinking about culture, people, politics, media, economics, history, literature, art, and identity?  Do you want to save the planet and also make the world a more equitable place for all its inhabitants? Do you want to develop a wide range of skills to address the world’s most pressing environmental and social dilemmas?  Consider an interdisciplinary Environmental Studies degree at Humboldt.

Environmental studies provides students with tools for understanding the complex relationships between human communities and both “natural” and built environments. The program cultivates critical analysis of environmental problems using tools from a variety of disciplines, helps students discern among environmental messages as well as communicate them effectively, and enables them to act as informed citizens and professionals. This requires knowledge of earth systems science as well as human systems, informed by careful reflection upon ethical concerns and societal values.  Students tailor their focus in the degree by choosing an “emphasis area” of Ecology and Conservation Science, Geospatial Analysis, Media Production, Community Organizing, and Appropriate Technology.
Students completing this program will be able to:
  • demonstrate understanding of how environmental challenges involve multiple perspectives and social contexts, and recognize the role of power and privilege in shaping them
  • demonstrate literacy with earth systems
  • use humanistic, creative, and social scientific knowledge to understand environmental challenges
  • understand how different research methods lead to diverse environmental knowledges
  • critically evaluate normative claims about and representations of the environment

Environmental Studies vs. Environmental Science


  • Study fundamentals of science and natural history
  • Analyze and apply scientific knowledge in labs and in the field
  • Use technology to apply science and solve problems
  • Influence policy decisions using scientific understanding of environmental challenges


  • Study the social side of people & environment
  • Learn how cultural & political systems work
  • Integrate scientific knowledge to gain holistic understanding of how environmental problems emerge and are addressed in various contexts
  • Promote just sustainability across broader society