Environmental and Urban Studies Major

If you declared your Environmental and Urban Studies major before Fall 2019, click here for guidelines.

New Major Requirements starting Fall 2019

Students in the Class of 2021 and beyond will follow the requirements for the Environmental and Urban Studies major, as described below. Students in the Class of 2020 may continue under the previous requirements appropriate to their chosen track, but they may also choose to complete the updated major requirements, provided that they fit within the student’s graduation plan.  The previous requirements may be found on the program website.

Students in the major must complete thirteen courses:

Environmental and Urban Studies Core Sequence

Students are required to take the two-course core sequence in Environmental and Urban Studies: ENST 21201 Human Impact on the Environment and ENST 20150 Sustainable Urban Development. These courses provide an overview of contemporary environmental issues and the theoretical and empirical approaches used to understand and address them.  

Quantitative Requirements

Students in both tracks of the major will take ENST 28702 Introduction to GIS and Spatial Analysis (or equivalent), which provides the conceptual and analytics tools for space-based approaches to environmental and urban study. The course is designed to incorporate applications from social sciences and humanities.  Other GIS courses may satisfy this requirement by petition. Students in the major also have a statistics requirement of STAT 22000 Statistical Methods and Applications or an equivalent course, approved by petition to the program director.

Requirements for All Majors (13 total courses: 4 common courses, 8 in the chosen track, and BA Colloquium)

ENST 21201 Human Impact on the Environment 100
ENST 20150 Sustainable Urban Development 100
ENST 28702 Introduction to GIS and Spatial Analysis 100
STAT 22000 Statistical Methods and Applications (or equivalent) 100
Chosen Track Courses 800
ENST 29801 BA Colloquium I 100
Internship/field studies experience  
Total Units 1300

Thematic Tracks in Environmental and Urban Studies

Environmental Track

Students in the Environmental track will take ENST 21301 Making the Natural World: Foundations of Human Ecology, a course which considers the conceptual underpinnings of contemporary notions of ecology, environment, and balance through the examination of historical trajectories of anthropogenic landscape modification and human society.

The Environmental Track requires completion of 3 elective courses from an approved list of Environmental Track courses and 1 elective course from an approved list of Urban Track courses. There is significant overlap in the tracks and many approved courses will be counted towards either track.

Students in the Environmental Track will also complete an experiential learning, practicum or studio course from an approved list or through petition to the program director. The remaining two courses required for the Environmental Track must come from an approved list of environmental science courses, which are focused on physical and natural sciences.

The list of approved courses can be found on the department’s website. Please click here for a full list of approved courses.

Environmental Track Requirements (9 additional courses)

ENST 21301 Making the Natural World: Foundations of Human Ecology 100
3 environmental track elective courses from approved list* 300
1 urban track elective course from approved list* 100
1 experiential learning course from approved list* 100
2 environmental sciences courses from approved list* 200
ENST 29801 BA Colloquium I (or ENST 29802) 100
Internship/field studies experience  
Total Units 900
§

Students may use a maximum of 200 units of supervised individual reading and research credit (ENST 29700, 29701, 29702, or equivalent) toward their primary track requirements in the major.

*

Must come from approved lists, found on the department's website.

Urban Track

Students in the Urban Track are required to take ENST 24600 Introduction to Urban Sciences, a course that provides a grand tour of conceptual frameworks, general phenomena, emerging data and policy applications that define a growing scientific integrated understanding of cities and urbanization. 

The Urban Track requires completion of 4 elective courses from an approved list of Urban Track courses and 1 elective course from an approved list of Environmental Track courses. There is significant overlap in the tracks and many approved courses will be counted towards either track.

Students in the Urban Track will choose one elective course from an approved list of courses in urban social sciences.  The Urban Track also requires the completion of an experiential learning, practicum or studio course from an approved list or through petition to the program director.

The list of approved courses can be found on the department’s website. Please click here for a full list of approved courses.

ENST 24600 Introduction to Urban Sciences 100
4 urban track elective course from approved list* 400
1 urban social science course from approved list* 100
1 environmental track elective course from approved list* 100
1 experiential learning course from approved list* 100
ENST 29801 BA Colloquium I (or ENST 29802) 100
Internship/field studies experience  
Total Units 900
§

Students may use a maximum of 200 units of supervised individual reading and research credit (ENST 29700, 29701, 29702, or equivalent) toward their primary track requirements in the major.

*

*Must come from approved lists, found on the department's website.

BA Thesis

All students in the major are expected to develop significant independent research projects in close consultation with their preceptor and faculty adviser.  In their third year, students must meet with an Environmental and Urban Studies preceptor by fourth week of Spring Quarter and submit a detailed topic page by eighth week of Spring Quarter. At this time, students are also required to secure a faculty adviser. The thesis adviser may be chosen from among the faculty teaching in Environmental and Urban Studies, members of the Program on Global Environment faculty advisory committee or from relevant outside departments.  An assigned preceptor will serve as a second reader on all theses. Where appropriate, outside scholars, scientists, or policy experts may be added as additional readers with the approval of the program director.

In their fourth year, students register for ENST 29801 BA Colloquium I (Autumn) or ENST 29802 BA Colloquium II (Winter), which are designed to teach research skills and more generally to aid the research and writing process.  Students interested in dedicating more time to the BA process can register for both the Autumn and Winter sections. The final version of the BA thesis is due by the second Friday of the quarter in which the student plans to graduate. Students who have a BA thesis requirement for another major may petition to the program director to count that program’s BA Colloquium towards their Environmental and Urban Studies requirement. Students wishing to build additional time for research or writing into their schedules may speak with their thesis adviser about potentially taking ENST 29900 B. A. Thesis (Reading and Research).

All students graduating in Spring Quarter are required to participate in the BA presentation session during reading period following Spring Quarter of the year they plan to graduate.

This program may accept a BA paper or project used to satisfy the same requirement in another major if certain conditions are met and with the consent of the other program director. Approval from both program directors is required. Students should consult with the directors by the earliest BA proposal deadline (or by the end of their third year, when neither program publishes a deadline). A consent form, to be signed by the directors, is available from the College adviser and on the program website. It must be completed and returned to the College adviser by the end of Autumn Quarter of the student’s year of graduation.

Required BA Timeline 

3rd years:

  • Attend 3rd year BA meeting at the end of 7th week of Winter quarter
  • Meet with BA preceptor by the end of 4th week of Spring quarter
  • Submit BA Topic Form by the end of 8th week Spring quarter

4th years:

  • Register for either ENST 29801 in Autumn quarter or ENST 29802 in Winter quarter
  • Submit final BA thesis to preceptor and faculty adviser by the end of week 2, Spring quarter
  • Submit bound copy of final thesis to the department by the end of week 7, Spring quarter
  • Attend BA Thesis Poster Presentation during reading period of Spring quarter

Forms can be found here.

Internship or Field Studies Program

In addition to course work, students will be required to participate in an approved internship or field studies program with significant links to their program of study. Activities that fulfill the internship requirement include summer or academic year internships of varying lengths, research assistantships, fellowships or field studies with faculty or other academic staff, participation in working groups or the program Student Advisory and Research Council, completion of the Chicago Studies Certificate Program, or other sustained engagements relating to environmental and urban studies.  Participation in Registered Student Organizations, while encouraged, does not count towards the internship requirement. Students must complete the internship evaluation form available on the program website before 2nd week of Spring Quarter in the year they plan to graduate. See below for more on the Chicago Studies Certificate Program.

Advising

Application for admission to the Environmental and Urban Studies program should be made to the program preceptor, who explains requirements and arranges a preliminary program of study. Admission to the major or minor is complete when a program of study has been approved by the program director. This program of study, which the student formulates in consultation with both the program preceptor and the program director, should be in place by a student's third year. The contact information for the current program preceptors is available on the program website at https://environmentalstudies-sites.uchicago.edu/.

Environmental and Urban Studies majors and minors must submit the Intent to Graduate form no later than the first week of the quarter in which they intend to graduate. The form is available online and must be submitted electronically.

Students will need to formalize their declaration of the major on my.uchicago.edu and provide regular documentation of any program approvals from the department to their College adviser for the requisite processing.

Grading

Students who are majoring or minoring in Environmental and Urban Studies must receive quality grades in courses taken to meet the requirements of the program. 

Honors

Eligibility for honors requires an overall GPA of 3.0 or higher, a GPA of 3.5 or higher in the courses taken to meet the requirements of the program, and a BA thesis that is judged to be a high pass by the faculty and preceptor readers.

Experiential Learning Opportunities

The Environmental and Urban Studies major offers experiential learning opportunities through practicum courses, the Chicago Studies Quarter, and the Chicago Studies Certificate Program. Students are encouraged to enroll in these programs, which offer immersion in the academic, experiential, interdisciplinary study of Chicago and its region. For more information about these programs, please see the listing in this catalog or visit chicagostudies.uchicago.edu.

Chicago Studies Quarter

Each spring, a small cohort of students studies the culture, politics, and history of the city through a curriculum of three interrelated courses with a common theme through the Chicago Studies Quarter. Admission to the program is competitive. Courses are taught by Chicago specialists from a variety of disciplines and join classroom instruction with weekly excursions and co-curricular activities.

All courses in the Chicago Studies Quarter will have an Environmental and Urban Studies course number. They are also listed in all three tracks of the major and can therefore be taken to satisfy requirements either within or outside the student’s primary track.

Chicago Studies Quarter: Calumet

Since 2012, the Calumet Quarter has offered a one-quarter, intensive, experience-based program focused on human land use in the Calumet Region just south and east of the city. As of 2017–18, it has merged with the Chicago Studies Quarter and is officially known as the Chicago Studies Quarter: Calumet. It features integrated courses, projects, field trips, guest lectures, and presentations, and integrates perspectives from the sciences, humanities, and social sciences in the study of local environments and communities. 

Chicago Studies Quarter: Calumet is offered every other year. The next offering will be in Spring Quarter 2020. Courses taken as part of this program can be used to satisfy requirements in all three tracks of the major.

Chicago Studies Certificate

The Chicago Studies Certificate, launched in 2017–18, is designed for students who wish to integrate their academic inquiry with positive impact in Chicago through sustained community engagement, urban scholarship, and creative expression. The certificate is overseen by the University Community Service Center in collaboration with the Environmental and Urban Studies program, which supervises the program’s academic requirements.

Completion of the Chicago Studies Certificate will satisfy the internship/field study requirement for the Environmental and Urban Studies major.