Environmental Science is a broad interdisciplinary study within Science, Mathematics and Technology, which draws upon the knowledge of biology, chemistry and physics to help learners explore and understand complex, dynamic processes operating within natural environmental systems. Within the concentration of Environmental Science, students may focus on specific themes such as agroecology, alternative energy, climate change, ecology, soil science, sustainability and water resources.
The interdisciplinary nature of the Environmental Science concentration offers many occupational possibilities. Possible career opportunities for students with concentrations in Environmental Science may include, but are not limited to environmental consulting, education, environmental law, research, positions with the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), resource management, restoration and conservation, watershed management and sustainable agriculture. This concentration also will prepare students for graduate school programs with focuses in the Environmental Sciences.
Students interested in focusing on human interactions with environmental systems, e.g., environmental policy, economics, education and communications, should consider a concentration in Environmental Studies rather than Environmental Science. This concentration can be developed within the Interdisciplinary Studies area of study.
Concentrations in Environmental Science include a range of approaches and titles; however, they share a common core of knowledge and an approach to progression within the individual specialization.
Because Environmental Science is an interdisciplinary field, students designing such concentrations should have a broad knowledge of the scientific disciplines that form the main foundation for work in the field. Introductory knowledge of biology, chemistry and physics will provide students with the solid foundation they need to develop a concentration in Environmental Science and to succeed in the advanced-level course work they will need to include in their degree plan. Foundational knowledge and experiences must include coverage of the core methodologies and theories of the discipline, as well as participation in experiential learning provided in laboratory and/or field activities.
Students are expected to develop a degree plan that encompasses the breadth of the field of environmental science and reflects progression within their area of interest. Students will build upon their foundational knowledge and experiences in the biological and physical sciences, moving to intermediate-level study in the natural environmental sciences, which provides breadth within the concentration and prepares students for in-depth advanced level study. At the advanced level, students may choose to select a particular path, one which best suits their academic interests and goals.
Each student brings his or her own goals and background to the study of environmental science. In order to address their goals, it is common for students to focus their advanced-level study on a thematic area. For example, students interested in ecology within environmental science might include the study of ecology, conservation and biodiversity. Students interested in soil science within environmental science might include in the study of soil science, agroecology, watershed management and environmental change. Students interested in meteorology and climate within environmental science might include in the study of meteorology, global climate and natural disasters. Students are not limited to these examples, nor are they required to have a thematic area within their concentration. A thematic area is only one way to acquire the knowledge, skills and competencies expected of students in Environmental Science.
Students should complement their science foundation with their development of skills that enhance their ability to critically analyze and interpret environmental processes and phenomena and provide them with a greater awareness of the nature of the interactions between human activities and the surrounding environment.
Students designing concentrations in Environmental Science should include a capstone study or final integrating experience in their degree plan. Within the capstone experience, students practice and reinforce the skills learned and the knowledge gained during the foundational components of their program. As a capstone experience, students might work with a mentor to design their own research projects, or they might decide to participate in a formalized research project offered through a local college or organization. The practical experience guideline may be met through the fulfillment of the capstone.
Students should explicitly discuss in their rationale essay how each of the above topics is incorporated in their degree program, how the program is designed to meet their goals and how the program meets the currency criteria discussed above. It is not necessary that the specific terms used above appear in individual study titles.
Effective July 1, 2013