The challenges of today's environment -- air and water pollution, deforestation and species loss, peak oil consumption and climate change -- are complex and interconnected issues. The interdisciplinary fields of environmental science and environmental studies are both dedicated to the study of these critical problems with the aim of identifying feasible solutions. Environmental Science focuses on the study of natural systems and the application of technology to protect and improve the environment while Environmental Studies focuses on the interaction between human and natural systems and the connection between science and policy.
The Bachelor of Science (B.S.) major is designed for those students with an interest in the more technical aspects of environmental systems. Students take a series of rigorous courses in chemistry, physics, biology, earth systems science, and mathematics. Upper level B.S. students can choose to follow a general environmental science track or complement their environmental science courses with a biology or chemistry concentration.
The Bachelor of Art (B.A.) major is designed for students with an interest in the policy and management aspects of environmental and sustainability issues. Coursework includes a foundation in environmental science (via introductory courses in chemistry, biology, earth systems, and environmental science). Students build upon that foundation with courses in economics, policy, communication, management, and ethics to gain a breadth of perspective for examining environmental and sustainability issues.
Environmental and sustainability issues are overarching and complex; addressing these challenges requires a unique set of skills. Because of this, both majors utilize an interdisciplinary approach toward critical analysis and problem solving while providing students with experience in the use of a wide range of tools. Students from both majors work together in many of the same upper division courses to foster respect for diverse perspectives and abilities, and to build skills for working effectively within interdisciplinary teams.
What can I do with an ENVS degree?The B.S. Environmental Science major prepares students for advanced studies in the environmental sciences or careers in the private and public sectors as environmental scientists.
The B.A. Environmental Studies major prepares students for advanced studies in environmental policy, management, or law and for careers in the increasing number of public and private organizations and companies pursuing environmental and sustainability goals.
Hawai‘i’s mid-Pacific location and geographic isolation has created one of the most unique environments on earth -- tropical ecosystems, distinctive coral reefs, volcanoes, and watersheds. The surrounding natural beauty provides us with exceptional opportunities for field trips and class, lab, and practicum projects. Examples include on-campus projects at the university's Hawai'i Loa campus, boat labs on Kaneohe Bay, and field monitoring at nearby He’eia stream or Kawainui marsh.
Our island setting provides a perfect microcosm of global environmental and sustainability issues related to energy, water, natural resources, and coral reefs -- all within our own unique context and at a local scale. Oahu is home to many diverse community types (rural, urban, agricultural, and military) and hosts a wide mix of cultures from the Pacific Islands, Asia, Europe, and the United States.
Students in our program come from all over the world – while many do hail from the mainland United States, we also have students from France, Malaysia, India, the Caribbean, Brazil, Ecuador, Sweden, Norway, and Japan. This provides a culturally rich experience for students both in and out of the classroom.
We encourage student-community interaction through practicum and research experiences to give our students hands-on, project-based learning opportunities. We also offer on-going faculty mentoring of students with regularly scheduled informational meetings and programs highlighting curriculum and career opportunities.
Our majors provide choices for many interests, backgrounds, and abilities. Our small class sizes allow for greater interaction between students and faculty that can further cultivate individual interests and experiences.