Why Environmental Studies

Environmental studies is an interdisciplinary program that provides students with concepts and tools for understanding the complex relationships between human communities and both "natural" and built environments.

Students who pursue a degree in environmental studies gain knowledge of ecological science with a broad and deep understanding of human systems, all informed by careful reflection upon normative concerns and values.

Graduates of the environmental studies program will have the ability to:

  • analyze the interrelationships among social, political, geographic, economic, and cultural aspects of environmental issues and determine the effects of power and privilege on these relationships
  • describe ecological systems
  • apply knowledge of environmental systems to practical problems
  • demonstrate a comparative understanding of social science and humanistic methods of inquiry and use these methods appropriately
  • interpret and communicate complex ideas effectively
  • engage in civic and public issues informed by normative and ethical inquiry
  • demonstrate competence in a skill that complements environmental studies knowledge

The program cultivates critical analysis of complex environmental challenges at the local and global levels, strengthens students' ability to communicate these effectively, and to act as informed citizens and professionals. This requires knowledge of ecological science and broad and deep understanding of human systems, all informed by careful reflection upon normative concerns and values.

Environmental Studies vs. Environmental Science


  • Study fundamentals of science and natural history
  • Analyze and apply scientific knowledge in labs and in the field
  • Use technology to apply science and solve problems
  • Influence policy decisions using scientific understanding of environmental challenges


  • Study the social side of people & environment
  • Learn how cultural & political systems work
  • Integrate scientific knowledge to gain holistic understanding of how environmental problems emerge and are addressed in various contexts
  • Promote just sustainability across broader society

Graduate Programs

Humboldt State also offers several environmental studies related opportunities at the graduate level.

Environment and Community »

Other Enviromental Graduate Programs »