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Environmental Studies and Sustainability

Major Requirements

As an Environmental Studies and Sustainability major, you will explore the impact that human activity has on the natural systems of the planet, and you’ll learn to rethink redesign, and recreate the way humans use natural resources.

As you engage in our dynamic program, you’ll integrate theoretical learning with real-world experience.

Note: If you were admitted prior to Fall 2016, your requirements are different. View major requirements for students admitted before Fall 2016

Meet Your Major

Our program’s interdisciplinary curriculum weaves together courses in environmental and social sciences, the humanities, business and economics. You’ll gain the knowledge and skills you need to:

  • Use problem-solving to improve the environment.
  • View the environment as a complex whole that’s affected by interconnected ecological, economic and political factors.
  • Master quantitative methods, qualitative analysis and critical thinking about the environment and sustainability.
  • Learn and apply fundamental principles of life and social sciences, business and the humanities to environmental issues.
  • Conduct literature reviews to obtain, critically assess and organize information related to the environment and sustainability.
  • Investigate, diagnose and propose solutions to environmental problems.

Hands-On Learning

You will participate in a community internship during your junior year. These internships take place in a wide array of public and private organizations focused on environmental policy, business, research, regulation, enforcement, ethics and education. The ESS program director will help you secure an internship that matches your academic interests and skills. You will submit a work log, write an essay, and provide a review of your performance by your internship supervisor.

Another source of hands-on learning is the Student Green Team where you can work on a variety of sustainability activities at Merrimack, from recycling to campus clean-up.

Senior Project
During your senior year, you will also complete a two-semester capstone sustainability project while working with a team of students, faculty and community partners. 

Career Options

Majoring in environmental studies and sustainability can lead to widespread career opportunities in environmental justice, climate studies, conservation, environmental policy, environmental law, landscape architecture, environmental health, land use and planning, and environmental communications.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of environmental scientists and specialists is expected to increase by 28% by 2018 – much faster than the average for all occupations.

Below are just a few of the many positions available in this field:

  • Environmental Inspector
  • Biological Monitor
  • Watershed Coordinator
  • Water Quality Technician
  • Natural Scientist
  • Green Design Professional

What You’ll Take

In this program, you must complete of a minimum of 44 credits and maintain a grade point average of at least 2.0.

Core Courses

You will take the following courses:

ESS 1050

Environmental Studies Gateway (required introductory course)

BIO 2009/ 3009

Environmental Science

PHL 2070 

Environmental Ethics

ESS 4850 

Community Internship

ESS 4820

Senior Seminar/Project I

ESS 4920

Senior Seminar/Project II

Tracking in the ESS Major

Beyond the required core, you may also pursue three different tracks:

  • Environmental Business and Policy
  • Environmental Science
  • Social Sustainability
Environmental Business and Policy 

In this this track you’ll learn about effective, responsible policy on domestic and global environmental issues in the private and public sectors and at federal and local levels. You will study basic environmental science, energy management, social science and business as it relates to sustainable development. In addition, you’ll explore how social, political and economic values affect environmental policies.


Choose two courses below in addition to the two required classes listed:

BUS 1100 

Introduction to Business (required)

COM 3742

Communication and Nonprofit Organizing

ECO 3305

Ecological Economics

ESS 3350

Sustainable Business Practices (required)

ESS 3450 

Sustainable Energy

ESS 3550 

Environmental Policy

HIS 3335 

World Environmental History

HIS 3525 

Environmental History of North America

HSC 3103 

Global Public Health

POL 2121 

Public Administration and Public Policy

Environmental Science 

This concentration focuses on the pure and applied sciences, including biology, chemistry, health science, and engineering. You’ll explore the intersection between science and society, recognize the interdependencies between human society and the natural world, discover how environmental problems are inherently interdisciplinary, and investigate the role science plays in helping solve problems. Fieldwork and community-based service are emphasized.

Four courses from this list:

BIO 2010


BIO 3064

Marine Biology

BIO 3071

Conservation and Restoration Biology

EEN 1177

Renewable Energy and the Environment

EEN 3270

Energy, Generation, Conservation, and Technology

ESS 3450

Sustainable Energy

HIS 3380

Science, Technology, and Society

HSC 3103

Global Public Health

PHL 2110

Environmental Philosophy

PHL 3050

Philosophy of Science

Concentration in Social Sustainability 

This track explores the interaction between nature and society across ethical, historical, and political dimensions. You’ll learn how environmental problems often arise from power relations and unequal control over natural resources, and you’ll gain an appreciation for our duty to address these problems. Because solutions require innovative thinking, you’ll be challenged to develop your environmental imagination — that is, to envision an ecologically healthier world than the one we currently inhabit.

Four courses from this list:

ENG 3745

Environmental Film

ENG 4120

The New England Shore

HIS 3320

The American City

HIS 3335

World Environmental History

HIS 3525 

Environmental History of North America

PHL 2110

Environmental Philosophy

PHL 2120

Ethics, Ecology, and the Beauty of Nature

RTS 3030

Humans, Earth, and the Sacred:
Religion and the Environment

SOC 3600

Sociology of Health

SOJ 1000

Introduction to Social Justice

WGS 3000

Environmental Justice, Gender, and Animal Rights

WRT 2020

Writing for Social Change

Courses in the School of Liberal Arts are scheduled to account for instructional time that is commensurate with credits earned.

More Info

Linda Tankersley
Admin. Assistant
Cushing 107



Bryan Bannon

Director, Environmental Studies and Sustainability and Associate Professor of Philosophy