Environmental Studies

BA Environmental Studies

Welcome to Hawai'i Pacific University's Environmental Studies program! We hope that you will join us and become part of our unique program, working towards a B.A. degree in environmental studies or a B.S. degree in environmental science.

Environmental Studies Students

Looking for active surface flows from Pu'u O'o vent, Kilauea Volcano. The rocks these students are standing on are less than 48 hours old and still hot.

 Why should you major in environmental studies at HPU rather than somewhere else?   

  • We have a unique location for studying the environment, providing us with great field opportunities -- tropical ecosystems, coral reefs, volcanoes, and unique watersheds. Field trips and projects in classes and labs make use of this. On-campus projects at the University's Hawai'i Loa campus location include design and development of nature trails and wetland areas.
  • Our island setting provides a microcosm of national/global environmental issues related to limited resources and growing population, with rural/agricultural, suburban, urban, and military regions; and cultures from the Pacific Islands, Asia, Europe and the United States.
  • Our students in this major come from all over the world -- many from the mainland United States, but we also have students from France, Malaysia, India, the Caribbean, Brazil, Ecuador, Sweden, Norway, and Japan, among others. This provides a culturally rich experience for students both in and out of the classroom.
  • Some of our special program features include student interaction with the community through practicum and research experiences and through hands-on, project-based learning; on-going faculty mentoring of students; and regularly scheduled information meetings and programs about the curriculum and career opportunities.
  • Our majors provide many choices for students depending on their interests, background, and abilities. The B.A. major is designed for students more interested in policy and management aspects of environmental studies and the B.S. major for those more interested in technical aspects of the environment. Both majors emphasize an interdisciplinary approach to critical analysis and problem solving in the environmental field. Students from both majors work together in many of the same upper division courses, fostering respect for diverse perspectives and abilities, and building skills for working effectively within interdisciplinary teams.
  • You can join the student club Kanaka 'Aina (Students for Environmental Awareness). It has great outings and projects that help our environment and community.

We are always working on improving our majors to help ensure that whether you want to find a job or pursue graduate studies after HPU, that you will be as well prepared as possible.

Click here for Degree Requirements

The Environmental Studies Major

The environmental studies major prepares students for advanced studies in environmental policy, law, or management, and for careers as environmental policy analysts, managers, and related positions in the rapidly growing number of private and public organizations and companies that have significant environmental concerns. Students selecting this major take lower-division courses in management and social science, plus introductory chemistry, biology, earth system science, and environmental science. Students select upper-division courses from one of two options -- the social science focus, or the management focus. This provides breadth of perspective for examining environmental issues, as well as significant depth in a traditional academic discipline. Upper-division coursework in communications, environmental law and policy, regulatory compliance, and environmental ethics, provides additional understanding, skills, and perspective for approaching environmental issues.

Program Objectives

  1. Environmental Science Knowledge Base: A thorough understanding of the factual base, processes and relationship that constitute a working foundation in the environmental sciences.
  2. The Human Dimension: An understanding of the social, economic, political and legal framework in which environmental issues are enmeshed.
  3. Critical Analysis and Problem Solving Skills: Develop the ability to critically analyze and formulate possible solutions to complex environmental issues that includes consideration of social, economic, and political as well as scientific issues.
  4. Communication Skills: The ability to access, comprehend, and communicate information to and from the many audiences required by a practitioner in field of environmental science.
  5. Technical Skills: Develop a working knowledge of techniques used to gather and analyze information in environmental studies, including project design, sampling, measurement, geographic image interpretation, hazardous materials concerns, statistical and graphical analysis, and other computational skills.
  6. Ethical Perspective Develop the ability to understand divergent ethical views of environmental issues, and to distinguish them from scientific or legal viewpoints. Graduates of the program through the attainment of the above objectives should develop their own environmental ethic and be able to articulate it to others.
  7. Post-Graduate Experience: Graduates of this program are well prepared for graduate studies in a related discipline or for entry-level positions in the discipline.