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Plan of Study

Students interested in declaring an ENST major should meet with the ENST director to plan their course of study in the program. The ENST major plan of study has four main parts:

Download the Environmental Studies Plan of Study Form (PDF)

Section 1 – ENST courses

This section of the major emphasizes the multidisciplinary nature of the field. There are two required ENST courses in this section. ENST 124 Essentials of Environmental Science provides an introduction to the issues and methodologies of environmental science and is ordinarily taken freshman or sophomore year. ENST 125 Environmentalisms in Perspective covers core issues in environmental studies, including American and global environmental history, the long term and future impacts of humans in nature, and how we define and perceive the environment. It is typically taken sophomore year. Majors are also required to take one more 200-level ENST course that emphasizes the multidisciplinary nature of environmental issues (specific courses vary yearly). The fourth course in this section is a 300-level departmental course that is cross-listed with the ENST program (see catalogue for a list).

Section 2 – Primary disciplinary concentration

Students are required to take five courses in a department (or a series of five courses with a common focus). These courses should build from the introductory level to the advanced level and allow students to develop a strong understanding of methodological approach to the discipline. Faculty from within the discipline advise students as they develop their primary concentration (see “Courses to Consider”).

Section 3 – Secondary disciplinary concentration

This three-course sequence should complement the five-course sequence listed under Section 2. Either Section 2 or 3 must be from the Natural Sciences Division.

Section 4 – Additional ENST coursework

The final section includes one-half unit of field work relevant to the major, ENST 291 Field Experiences in the Hudson Valley, the senior seminar, and the senior thesis/project.

The senior seminar, taken in the fall of senior year, serves as a capstone course for the major and includes a practicum where the majors bring their varied disciplinary perspectives to bear on a particular problem in environmental thinking. Examples of previous senior seminar projects include partnering with a local community group to build rain barrels, designing and installing an informational kiosk for the Vassar Ecological Preserve, and conducting a waste audit for the campus.

The major culminates in a thesis or project in which students use their acquired knowledge and methods to conduct research and construct an individual thesis paper or project. To see the diversity of previous ENST thesis and project topics, browse the thesis titles and areas of concentration of graduated ENST majors listed under “Theses and Projects."