The undergraduate major is housed in the Social Sciences Collegiate Division and emphasizes interdisciplinary approaches to environmental issues incorporating models and methods from the humanities, social and natural sciences. The curriculum is organized around several elements, including a common introductory sequence required of all majors, focused course work in three broadly conceived thematic tracks, a required thesis, and a required internship or field studies component. A minor concentration is also an option for students interested in pursuing coursework in Environmental and Urban Studies.
As of academic year 2017–18 the Environmental Studies major will be known as Environmental and Urban Studies. This new title reflects significant enhancements to the major that include the introduction of a new thematic track focused on human interaction with place, space, and the built environment in urban regions.
The new Urban Environment Track will complement the two existing tracks devoted to study of the interactions of humans and the environment. It is designed to give students a deeper theoretical understanding of cities and practical strength in addressing urban and environmental challenges. It brings a spatial and place-based perspective to these questions, using built form and environmental context as key, conceptual lenses to investigate the social, economic, and political dimensions of urbanism.
Within this new track, students will have the opportunity to study cities from multiple disciplinary perspectives and engage with the historical and theoretical processes of city making, covering issues such as: urban planning for sustainable cities; big data and its potential for improving urban quality of life; the environmental costs and benefits of urbanization; the growing problem of social segregation in urban neighborhoods; the resilience of urban neighborhoods; and the fiscal complexities of urban infrastructure and maintenance.