Before you decide whether an environmental sciences major is right for you, you should find out what you will study in a liberal arts program in environmental sciences. This degree program will prepare you for a career that offers the opportunity to address environmental problems such as pollution and to preserve the natural world around us, according to U.S. News & World Report.
When it comes to considering the effect of environmental damage, environmental scientists often look at how this damage affects living things. To thoroughly understand that impact, you need a background in biology, the science of life and living things. For that reason, biology is a big part of what you study in a liberal arts program in environmental sciences. You should expect to take laboratory courses such as principles of biology, microbiology, organismal biology and related classes. You might also need to take a biostatistics course that teaches you about how statistics are used in biological and health sciences.
There’s an entire specialty of environmental science – environmental chemistry – devoted to the study of the properties of matter and the substances it forms, according to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). It makes sense, then, that chemistry courses are another part of the core curriculum that makes up an environmental sciences degree program. In addition to laboratory courses in general chemistry or fundamentals of chemistry, you will most likely take classes such as organic chemistry and analytic chemistry. Classes in soil science, too, may be part of a chemistry department’s course offerings.
What else will you study in a liberal arts program in environmental sciences? Geology, the study of the earth and its structures and history, is another essential subject for aspiring environmental scientists to study. In particularly, you are likely to take laboratory courses in physical geology, historical geology, environmental geology, the dynamic earth and global geology during your environmental science studies. You might also take a class in environmental geophysics, which combines the scientific disciplines of geology and physics along with an environmental perspective.
Physics is another important part of what you study in a liberal arts program in environmental sciences. As the study of matter and energy, physics is important for understanding the properties of the natural world. Most students majoring in environmental science will take laboratory courses in general physics I and II.
5. Specialized Courses in Environmental Science
Not every environmental science requirement fits neatly into a category of life and physical science. An environmental sciences major is an interdisciplinary program of study. Students often take courses such as environmental law, environmental ethics, hydrology, environmental research, forest ecology, waste management, global environmental health and environmental policy.
Environmental science degree programs are often considered part of the liberal arts, and they typically do require some general education studies in subjects like the arts, humanities and social sciences. However, much of what you study in a liberal arts program in environmental sciences fits into the category of natural and physical sciences.