Making a Difference: The Natural World and Human Society

Environmental scientists understand the scope and severity of the problems facing human society. We also now recognize the importance of considering people’s beliefs and preferences in the search for solutions to preserve the natural systems on which all life relies.

The environmental studies BA program at Purchase College reflects the interdisciplinary focus on the interactions among the sociopolitical, economic, and ecological systems where the natural world and human society overlap. This new approach offers challenges and opportunities for those motivated to help improve the health of our environment and the quality of human existence.

The program culminates in the senior project—a research project undertaken in collaboration with a faculty member. Senior research projects vary widely in topic and method, but all incorporate a common theme: environmental impacts cannot be addressed without consideration of human society.


In addition to meeting General Education requirements, environmental studies majors must complete the following requirements (77 credits).

In addition to the foundation and synthesis courses, students must choose a concentration in either ecology or policy. Students are encouraged to complete the requirements for a minor in a cognate field, selected in consultation with the student’s academic advisor. Electives count toward the general degree requirement of 120 total credits. Electives at the 3000- and 4000-level count toward the general degree requirement of 45 upper-level credits.

Required Foundation and Synthesis Courses

The required core of the environmental studies curriculum consists of the following foundation and synthesis courses. Grades earned in these courses must average at least 2.0 (C):

  • ENV 1500/Introduction to Environmental Science
  • BIO 1550/General Biology I
  • BIO 1551/General Biology I Lab
  • BIO 1560/General Biology II
  • BIO 1561/General Biology II Lab
  • ENV 2720/Geology
  • ENV 3025/Biostatistics
  • ENV 3030/Environmental Policy
  • ENV 3120/General Ecology
  • ENV 3150/Geographic Information Systems
    or ENV 3163/Cloud-Based GIS and Remote Sensing Technologies (added Fall 2020)
  • One of the following courses:
    ENV 3045/Environmental Impact Assessment or
    ENV 3300/Environmental Regulations
  • One of the following physical education courses:
    PED 1000/Lifeguard Training or
    PED 1050/Aerial Challenge Course or
    PED 1070/Outdoor Skills or
    PED 1105/Scuba or
    PED 1120/Rock Climbing or
    PED 1310/Personal Defense 
    PED 1460/Kayaking Skills
  • ENV 3880/Environmental Studies Junior Seminar
  • ENV 3995/Internship in Environmental Studies (at least 2 credits)
  • SPJ 4990/Senior Project I
  • SPJ 4991/Senior Project II

Minor requirements:

Students who are interested in the environmental studies minor should submit a completed Application for a Program of Minor Study to the Department Chair of Environmental Studies.

Academic Requirements for the Minor in Environmental Studies

A minimum of 20 credits, as follows:

  1. ENV 1500/Introduction to Environmental Science
  2. ENV 2720/Geology or
    ENV 3120/General Ecology
  3. ENV 3030/Environmental Policy or
    ENV 3300/Environmental Regulations
  4. At least two additional environmental studies courses, at least one of which must be upper level


  • Lecturer of Environmental Studies
    • BS, Purchase College, SUNY
    • PhD, Polytechnic University
  • Professor of Environmental Studies
    • BS, Florida Institute of Technology
    • MS, Texas A&M University
    • PhD, University of California, Los Angeles
  • Lecturer of Environmental Studies
    • BS, University of Idaho
    • MS, University of Vermont
  • Associate Professor of Environmental Studies
    • BS, Juniata College
    • MS, College of William and Mary
    • PhD, Oregon State University
  • Associate Professor of Environmental Studies
    • BS, Mount Vernon Nazarene College
    • MA, University of Illinois
    • PhD, Oregon State University
  • Lecturer of Environmental Studies
    • BA, Purchase College, SUNY
    • MS, University of Virginia
    • PhD, University of Virginia

Contributing Faculty

  • Associate Professor of Philosophy
    • BA, University of California, Santa Cruz
    • PhD, University of Pennsylvania
  • Associate Professor of Sociology
    • BA, Prescott College
    • MA, PhD, Drew University
  • Associate Professor of Biology
    • BS, Southeastern Massachusetts University
    • MA, PhD, University of California, Davis
    • 2021 SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching
  • Professor Emeritus of Economics
    • BA, Grove City College
    • PhD, New York University
  • Director of the Teaching, Learning, and Technology Center (Associate Librarian)
    • BS, Iowa State University
    • MS, University of California, San Diego
    • PhD, University of Michigan
  • Research Professor of Meteorology and Scientific Computing
    Professor Emeritus of Physics and Scientific Computing
    • BS, California Institute of Technology
    • MA, PhD, Harvard University
    • Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching