The ENTS Major

The central mission of Carleton’s Environmental Studies Program is to educate the next generation of environmental scholars and professionals in the fundamental scientific, ecological, social, ethical, political, and economic forces that govern environmental issues and the long-term quality and viability of society.

The complexities of environmental problems dictate that study of the environment be based in multiple disciplines to provide students with skill sets and knowledge bases in the following areas: scientific principles as applied to the environment, the political, economic, social and cultural dimensions of environmental problems, the historical and ethical context for environmental problems and policy, and literary and artistic explorations of the environment. Students who major in Environmental Studies can gain a broad grounding in all of these areas, which is intended to help them understand the complex environmental issues faced by societies around the world. 

The Environmental Studies major prepares students for meaningful involvement in a wide array of environmental and governmental organizations, as well as for graduate study in many environmental fields, law, public policy, and other areas of inquiry. 

  • Students interested in graduate study in the environmental sciences will have to take additional science courses.  Please consult with the natural science faculty to find out what courses you should take.

The Focus System:

The major is designed to help students make connections across key knowledge bases, which traditionally have been pursued largely in disciplinary isolation. In order to facilitate making these connections, the major is organized into a multidisciplinary set of core courses and five more narrowly defined areas of concentration, called foci. Students are required to complete all of the core courses and to select one of the foci as an area of concentration. The five foci are:

  • Food and Agriculture: This track covers such topics as American agricultural policy, food security, the effects of climate change on agriculture, and food ethics.  Relevant science courses include agroecology, plant biology, ecology, and geology of soils and hydrology.
  • Conservation and Development: This is a broad track that covers conservation biology, issues of economic development (including climate and energy policy), management of natural resources and preservation of natural wonders.  The chief scientific foundations for this focus are ecology and the courses on climate.
  • Landscape and Perceptions: This track allows students to explore the complex meanings of the landscape.  In addition to the ecology and geology courses that help them interpret the natural forces shaping the landscape, students may examine religious, ethical, historical, and aesthetic values embedded in the landscape.
  • Water Resources: The track appears narrower in focus—it examines the management of water resources, building primarily on courses in geology and economics. But the topic is of central importance to virtually all environmental policy areas. Students interested in this track are advised to take Microeconomics and to plan ahead so that they can complete their science electives.
  • Environmental Justice:  This track allows students to focus on the intersection of social justice issues with environmental policy.  Students may explore how environmental policy affects minority groups and indigenous peoples, the global north and global south, and issues of justice toward nonhumans.

Students graduating in 2014 and 2015 are required to choose electives coded for their track (click the link for your track to see the electives)

Students graduating in 2016 and beyond are under a new system:  Every focus will have one required course, which is intended to give you a broad understanding of the major issues in that area.  In selecting additional electives, you should consider what your specific learning goals are and choose courses that contribute to those goals.


ENTS Profiles

 Beginning with the Class of 2016, every ENTS major will complete an ENTS profile—a personal website that will:

·         Clarify your learning goals and further professional goals

·         Help you integrate the learning you’ve done within the program make connections with what you’ve learned from extracurricular, work and life experience

·         Help the faculty understand how the curriculum is working for you

The program will create a site for you on google.sites and share it with you. You will be an editor on the site.  The completed site will be available for the Carleton community to view.  A complete site must be submitted for evaluation in the Fall term ENTS 395 course.  More information about the ENTS profile will be available at the spring New Majors meeting and through your advisor.