Environmental Studies Program

The Environmental Studies Program produces exceptional graduates who are grounded in the study of contemporary environmental problems and solutions.

The program provides students with the knowledge and skills required for understanding relationships between humans and the physical world. It examines how the environment is being used, abused, and perceived, and what individuals and organizations are doing and can do to protect it for themselves, future generations and other living beings and ecosystems. Students participate in an internship and take a senior seminar. Both requirements emphasize community engagement and preparation for future environmental careers.

About the Environmental Studies Program at SF State

We produce exceptional graduates who are grounded in the study of contemporary environmental problems and solutions. The program provides students with the knowledge and skills required for understanding relationships between humans and the physical world. It examines how the environment is being used, abused and perceived, and what individuals and organizations are doing and can do to protect it for themselves, future generations and other living beings and ecosystems. Students participate in an internship and take a senior seminar. Both requirements emphasize community engagement and preparation for future environmental careers.

  • We offer both Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Science degrees in Environmental Studies.
  • Our program draws upon the environmental leadership of the San Francisco Bay region, the strong campus commitment to social justice, and active campus sustainability efforts.
  • Environmental Studies is a field that crosses the boundaries of traditional disciplines, challenging faculty and students to look at environmental issues from a variety of perspectives.
  • Our students have the opportunity to integrate coursework in the physical and life sciences, social sciences, humanities, business and ethnic studies.
  • Our faculty are drawn from many disciplines, including Geography, Environmental Chemistry, Geosciences, Conservation Biology, Urban Studies and Planning, Broadcast and Communication Arts, Business, Political Science and Sociology. The faculty are teaching and actively investigating environmental issues of local and international concern.
  • The program attracts students from a wide range of academic interests and cultural backgrounds and produces high quality undergraduates ready for careers in the environmental field.
  • We strive to inspire students to become active citizens and to make social change to address environmental issues.

What’s the difference between Environmental Studies and Environmental Science?

Environmental studies is an interdisciplinary major that brings together social sciences, humanities, and natural science to study environmental issues. To understand and address environmental problems, students must understand both the natural science relevant to the problem, and the social systems responsible for creating the problems and for generating solutions. For example, in order to understand global climate change and the important role of deforestation, students must have some understanding of the carbon cycle and the greenhouse effect. But in order to understand why deforestation occurs and what can be done to reduce it, students need to understand the economic, cultural and political forces that encourage deforestation and hinder adequate regulation.

Our B.S. and B.A. degrees

We offer a B.A. in Environmental Studies; students choose their electives in consultation with an advisor or use the three sets of “guided electives” (see Roadmaps), and a B.S. degree emphasizing Natural Resource Management and Conservation. The B.A. in Environmental Studies requires 16-18 units of science and research methods (6-8 units of chemistry, 3 units of physical geography or geology, 3 units of biology and 4 units of statistics and research methods), and 20-23 units of social sciences or humanities. Similarly, the B.S. degrees require a mix of social science and natural science, but with more weight toward natural science. A B.S. is more appropriate if you plan to go to graduate school for further study in the biological and physical sciences, or if you plan to work in natural resources/wildlife conservation. On the other hand, a B.A. is good preparation for law school, for work as a sustainability officer in city or state government or in public education or advocacy at a nonprofit.

Program Learning Objectives

  1. Demonstrate understanding of the relationships between social justice and environmental problems in local, national and global contexts.
  2. Demonstrate understanding of chemical, biological, and social processes related to environmental problems and the ability to intergratewiththe understandings and critical evaluations of descriptive statistics commonly used in environmental literature.
  3. Communicate clearly and accurately both orally and in writing and be able to conduct research appropriate to area of emphasis.
  4. Demonstrate basic understanding of social and political systems and how they change, and demonstrate ability to engage in civic activities and processes, e.g., public comment opportunities offered by agencies.
  5. Demonstrate readiness to enter professional job market by preparing/training students in developing appropriate job market skills (e.g., resume and cover letter writing, interview preparation, writing well and engagingly, acquiring professional experience via internship)

Environmental Studies is currently open to all students admitted through the University admissions process.

We offer a B.A. in Environmental Studies; students choose their electives in consultation with an advisor or use the three sets of “guided electives” (see Roadmaps), and a BS degree emphasizing Natural Resource Management and Conservation. 

B.A. in Environmental Studies.

The B.A. in Environmental Studies requires 16- 18 units of science and research methods (6-8 units of chemistry, 3 units of physical geography or geology, 3 units of biology and 4 units of statistics and research methods), and 20-23 units of social sciences or humanities.

Review the degree requirements for the major.  

B.S. in Environmental Studies.

The B.S. degrees require a mix of social science and natural science, but with more weight toward natural science. A B.S. is more appropriate if you plan to go to graduate school for further study in the biological and physical sciences, or if you plan to work in natural resources/wildlife conservation. On the other hand, a B.A. is good preparation for law school, for work as a sustainability officer in city or state government or in public education or advocacy at a nonprofit.

Review the degree requirements for the major.  

Contact pace@sfsu.edu with any questions.

Advising for majors is provided by faculty members in the program. If you have questions about non-major requirements, please contact the Undergraduate Advising Center.

ENVS Student Advising Assignments:

  • Dr. Glenn Fieldman:  Last Names beginning with A-H,
  • Dr. Aritree Samanta:  Last Names beginning with I -Q
  • Dr. Autumn Thoyre: Last Names beginning with R-Z, also new students, change-of-major and study abroad approvals
  • For students seeking advising specific to ESSJ, see Prof. Joel Kassiola.  Students seeking specific advice about TUE should see Dr. Raquel Pinderhughes; for HUM see Dr. Sami Reist.

Other Advising Materials

Undergraduate Advising Center

For advising on undergraduate non-major courses (GE requirements, etc.) please visit the Advising Center. This is a University service staffed by professional counselors, interns, and peer advisors committed to providing guidance and information to help undergraduate students enjoy a successful college experience. The Advising Center is located in Administration Building 211 and can be accessed through the Advising Center website for more information.

Overview of ENVS Internships

An internship can be one of the most rewarding parts of your college career.  Your internship may be your first step in navigating the professional world.  In addition to providing an opportunity to learn new skills, apply classroom knowledge, make valuable contacts and build your resume, your internship can open your eyes to career possibilities you hadn’t previously considered. 

All ENVS graduates are required to complete an internship, which consists of 80 hours of service plus a “mini-class” for one unit of credit (up to three units of credit may be earned; each additional unit requires 80 hours of service).  You may do the service portion of your internship during the summer and take the course the following fall. If you’re planning to do this, speak to the internship instructor (currently Dr. Fieldman) before the end of the spring semester to find out about the academic work to be done while you’re doing your service. 

Finding an internship is students’ responsibility, but plenty of help is available.  Start looking well ahead of the semester in which you plan to complete your service and take the class, because there are lots of students seeking internships in the Bay Area and you’ll have the best chance to get the one you want if you apply early. It’s a good idea to keep your resume up to date, so that it’s ready to go when you find an internship you want to apply for.
 

Finding an Internship

SF State requires all students and their internship organizations to be registered with ULink. 

  • The first thing you should do is register yourself with ULink. Once you register, you will have access to the list of internships with previously approved organizations.  If you haven’t found an internship yet, begin searching at this site.
  • If you don’t find an internship at ULink, there are other places to look. ENVS professors receive or hear about opportunities from the organizations with which we’re connected, and we post all of them to the Environmental Studies Jobs and Internships list-serv.  If you subscribe, you’ll get e-mails about these opportunities within 24 hours.
  • If you know that you’re interested in working for a particular organization, check that organization’s website, because that organization may not advertise its internships with us. If the organization that you want to work with doesn’t indicate that it offers an internship, you might consider asking it to. Some ENVS students have worked with an organization or business to create an appropriate internship — it might work for you!
  • Organizations that aren’t registered with ULink will have to go through the registration process. If you are interning at a site that is currently not listed in the ULink Organization Directory, follow Road Map 2  (Slide #6) of the ULink placement guide: Student Site Placement and ULink Userguide. By following, the steps laid out on Slide #6, you will be provided information as to: 1) how you can request a No LPSA form and their student consent form within ULink; 2) how they receive and sign their student consent forms via DocuSign and 3) information they can provide to their organization as to how to become a University partner. When students submit a “student placement request for non-contracted site” in ULink, they will be completing a form which will ask them course information, organization information (point of contact) and tasks/responsibilities.

What to Look For in an Internship

Unpaid internships are ways that organizations can get free help, sometimes with fairly menial tasks. But as a student, your purpose is to get some professional-level experience, make contacts and learn some new things.  Pay close attention to the internship job description to make sure that working there will be a rewarding experience for you as well as for the organization.  It’s understandable that you may be asked to do some low-level tasks, but make sure that those aren’t all that the internship consists of.

Work Agreement.  When you accept an internship, one of the first things you’ll do is negotiate a work agreement with your supervisor. A completed work agreement is one of the assignments for ENVS 680, the internship class.  Use this meeting to get as clear a picture as possible of what you’ll be doing, and to assert your own interests: Say that you want to find out what an actual job in this organization would be like. Ask if you’ll be able to attend meetings that your supervisor goes to, to “shadow” employees as they go about their jobs, etc. Mention specific skills that you’re interested in acquiring or improving: using GIS, writing grant proposals, getting acquainted with Salesforce.This lets your future supervisor know that you’ll take the position seriously! 

ENVS 680 Internship Course

  • ENVS 680 Syllabus
  • To receive credit for your internship, you need to complete 80 hours of service plus ENVS 680, which meets four times per semester. You can do your service and the class in the same semester, or you can do your service in the summer and take the class in the fall
  • Your log and journal (described in the sample syllabus above) should be completed as you do your service, not later. 
  • At the end of your service, you should ask your supervisor to complete an evaluation form  (below) and e-mail it to the ENVS 680 instructor (currently Glenn Fieldman, glenn@sfsu.edu).

 

Climate change is one of the most important sustainability and social justice challenges of this century. To meet the growing need for climate change expertise, faculty in the ENVS program helped create one of the first interdisciplinary, justice-focused Climate Change Certificates in the country. Earning this Certificate helps prepare students to become climate leaders in careers in consulting, law, government, education, nonprofits, and beyond.

Learn more about the certificate and its requirements.

Contact climatehq@sfsu.edu with any questions about the certificate.

George Feliz taught Economics at SF State from 1946 to 1975 and served as the first dean of Graduate Studies on this campus. He established an endowment to award a scholarship to an Environmental Studies major who could demonstrate financial need. The amount of the award varies, but is usually between $700 and $1000.

To be eligible, applicants must meet the following minimum criteria:

  1. You must be an Environmental Studies major.
  2. You must have completed freshman year.
  3. You must have maintained a minimum GPA of 3.0 in all SFSU courses.
  4. You must have completed at least two courses in the ENVS major.
  5. You must be enrolled at least half-time during the current academic year.

In addition to the minimum criteria, students must demonstrate financial need (supplemental question in the Academic Works application form), and preference is given to students who are single parents. Being a single parent is a Feliz Scholarship selection preference, but you do not have to be a single parent to be eligible. Therefore, all students meeting the minimum criteria and having financial need are encouraged to apply. Learn more about the scholarship.

1600 Holloway Avenue
HSS Building, Room 261
San Francisco, CA 94132-4161

Phone: Number: (415) 405-3483
Email: envs@sfsu.edu