Academic Program

field trip
Students in the first-year seminar, The Earth and its Climate, on a field trip the John Heinz Wildlife Refuge.

An interdisciplinary course minor in environmental studies is available to all students, consisting of an integrated program of and introductory course, four additional courses, and a capstone seminar, taken in addition to a regular major.

The expectation is that minors will take the introductory course, Introduction to Environmental Studies, early in their program and before the senior year. Apart from the introductory course and the capstone seminar, there are three categories of courses: environmental science/technology, environmental social science/humanities, and cognate/interdisciplinary. Lists of courses belonging to each of these categories appear in the course catalog and the program's website. Environmental Studies minors are generally expected to take two courses in environmental science/technology (one of which must be a lab science) and two courses in environmental social science/humanities. In consultation with the program coordinator, however, up to two courses toward the minor may be chosen from the list designated cognate and interdisciplinary courses or courses taken at other institutions (domestic and foreign).

At least two of the four courses selected for the environmental studies minor must be outside the major and, if it exists, a second minor, so that when the introductory course and capstone seminar are added, the College policy requiring at least four courses outside the major or any other minor will be satisfied.
Swarthmore environmental studies students may also apply for the honors minor, which has similar requirements plus an external examination on an approved topic that links together two of the courses and a senior honors study paper that explores the connections between the two courses (see honors section below).

Honors Minor

Students may also apply for the honors minor, which has similar requirements plus an external examination on an approved topic that links together two of the courses and a senior honors study paper that explores the connections between the two courses.

Course Plan

Students must submit their plan of study to the coordinator, usually when they apply for a major, and should inform the coordinator about any changes in their academic programs. Students may petition the Faculty Committee on Environmental Studies to have courses taken at other institutions fulfill some of these requirements. One of the courses may be independent work or a field study (in the United States or abroad) supervised by a member of the committee.

Foundations Course

This course will be co-taught by one faculty member from a science or engineering field and by one faculty member from the social sciences or humanities.  Focusing on one or two case studies, the interdisciplinary course will emphasize basic concepts in Environmental Studies and explore how environmental challenges in the modern world are best approached by drawing upon the contributions of more than one academic discipline.  ENVS 001 will be first offered at Swarthmore in the spring of 2015; it is also offered as ENVS 101 at Bryn Mawr and Haverford.

Capstone Seminar

In addition to the introductory course and four courses, each student persuing a minor will participate in the capstone seminar in environmental studies (ENVS 091) during the spring semester of the senior year. The capstone seminar will involve advanced work on one or more issues or problems in environmental studies. Leadership of the capstone seminar rotates among the members of the Faculty Committee on Environmental Studies. The Bryn Mawr and Haverford Environmental Studies Senior Seminar (ENVS 397) also counts in fulfillment of the capstone requirement, but before students consider enrolling in the capstone seminar at another campus, they must consult with the Swarthmore Environmental Studies coordinator and recognize that the senior seminars all require major time commitments apart from scheduled seminar meeting times.

Transfer Credit

Any student may request credit [pdf] in environmental studies for interdisciplinary environmental courses taken at other institutions (domestic and foreign).

Study Abroad

Swarthmore College sponsors environmental foreign study programs in Cape Town, South Africa and Central Europe (Krakow, Poland and Brno, Czech Republic).