Environmental Science

As part of a class research project Tracy and Lupita are taking sediment samples in Hartford's Trout Brook, a small urban stream just minutes from campus.

Hands-on Education In and Outside the Classroom:

If you are interested in the earth’s environment and the role we humans play on this planet you might want to major in environmental science. As an environmental science major you will acquire a firm grasp of the basic science needed to describe and understand the behavior of natural systems. After several introductory courses in environmental science, biology, chemistry, geology and sometimes physics or climate change, our students have a solid background in the relevant natural sciences.

They then take several upper-level courses in the earth sciences, biology or physics to deepen their understanding of environmental issues. Courses here include ecology, environmental or organic chemistry, earth systems science, a course on soils, or several biology courses such as botany, conservation biology or a course on invasive species.

Soil science students (ENVS 305) study a soil profile at Horsebarn Hill on the campus of the University of Connecticut.

Student Research Opportunities:

Many of our students are also involved in research. They have investigated the effects of clear-cutting on soil chemistry, determined the home ranges of urban hawk populations, investigated the ecotoxicology of urban amphibian and reptile populations, and studied seed dispersal by horses or the impact of prescribed wildfires on soils. The possibilities are numerous, and we highly recommend them to our students.

Hadley, T.J. , Matt and Celeste are sampling a sediment core for a study on past environmental change.

Environmental Science Within a Liberal Arts Education:

Environmental science, however, does not occur in a vacuum, far removed from interests and actions of humans. Our students also take at least two courses in the social sciences or the humanities. The choices here include coursework on environmental policy, nature writing, economics or anthropology. Given the interdisciplinary nature of the major, many students chose to combine environmental science with another major such as biology, chemistry, engineering, economics or public policy and law.

Bringing our science to the community: Former ENVS postdoc Cameron Douglass presents  student-designed information signs to members of a local land trust at the Knox Park Preserve in Stonington, CT. The signs were designed by Eunice Kimm as part of an independent research project, merging her interests in environmental science and the arts.

Environmental science merges the natural environment with human actions. We therefore encourage our students to take relevant courses in the social sciences and humanities as well to learn how humans have shaped their environments or, in return, are shaped by the world in which they live. Relevant courses may include classes in public policy and law and environmental economics, but also classes in history or English. Again, students can choose from a large (and often changing) list of relevant courses across a wide range of disciplines to customize the program to their interests and career goals. The Bachelor of Arts option allws students to take even more advanced courses in the social sciences and humanities.

Students exploring the ghost town of Bodie, CA. Bodie was once a thriving mining town where almost 40 million dollars worth of gold and silver were extracted from several mines between 1877 and 1881. However, the gold rush was short-lived and today Bodie is preserved as a California State Historic Park.

The ENVS Community:

Majoring in environmental science is not just about classwork, however. We are a small, close-knit program and know our students well. During the warmer months we often have barbecues, the famous McCookouts, behind our building (McCook Hall).

McCookouts during the off-season. A little bit of snow might delay the school bus but won’t slow us down!

Every summer we try to go on a fieldtrip to some exciting place to learn about different landscapes, new environments and have fun while doing it. In the past, we’ve been to the southwestern United States, the Black Hills of South Dakota, Washington State or even Iceland. Yes, we learn a lot on these trips (new rocks, new plants, new birds, new ways to cook pancakes on a camp stove – the possibilities are endless), but these trips are also a lot of fun and a great way to get to know each other. Adam and Christopher preparing dinner - Price Canyon, UT.

Environmental Science majors have the unique opportunity to combine their love for the outdoors and natural world with a rigorous study of the natural and social sciences. After graduation our majors go on to careers in many different fields: some work as environmental consultants while others go on to graduate- , medical- or law-school. Some of our majors work for state or federal governments (or government agencies), or various foundations. The possibilities are almost endless.

For more information, feel free to contact the current director of the program, Dr. Christoph Geiss and check out the remainder of our site. We love to hear from you! 

Dr. Christoph Geiss
ENVS Program Director
105 McCook Hall
300 Summit St.
Hartford, CT 06106
(860) 297 - 4191

check out our ENVS blog:


Our most recent fieldtrip to Utah

(great video from Cassia)


Utah and Arizona

(slide show of our 2013 field trip)

Iceland the Movie

(slideshow of our 2008 trip)
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