Bachelor of Arts in Environmental Studies

Students may choose elective courses in consultation with an advisor. We suggest the following pathways as models: Environmental Sustainability and Social Justice, Humanities and the Environment, and The Urban Environment. 

B.A. Suggested Emphasis Areas

The Environmental Sustainability and Social Justice emphasis provides students with a theoretical and applied understanding of the issues of sustainability and the connections between social justice and environmental problems and solutions. Students study the roles that values and social, political, and economic structures play in contributing to the environmental crisis. 

The Urban Environment emphasis provides students with a strong interdisciplinary theoretical and empirical understanding for dealing with environmental issues in urban settings. 

The Humanities and the Environment emphasis explores the varied and complex ways that different cultures — past and present — view and communicate about the environment.

Program Learning Outcomes

  1. Demonstrate understanding of the relationships between social justice and environmental problems in local, national and global contexts.
  2. Demonstrate understanding of chemical, biological, and social processes related to environmental problems and the ability to integrate these with the understandings and critical evaluations of descriptive statistics commonly used in environmental literature.
  3. Communicate clearly and accurately both orally and in writing and be able to conduct research appropriate to area of emphasis.
  4. Demonstrate basic understanding of civic activities and processes, and of methods of engagement in those processes.
  5. Demonstrate readiness to enter professional job market by preparing/training students in developing appropriate job market skills (e.g., resume and cover letter writing, interview preparation, writing well and engagingly, acquiring professional experience via internship).
  6. Demonstrate understanding of the interconnections of economy, politics, culture and society, and of potential points of intervention to enhance sustainability and social justice.

Environmental Studies (B.A.) — 43-50 units

General Education Requirements Met in the Major

The requirements below are deemed “met in the major” upon completion of the courses listed (even though the courses and their prerequisites are not approved for GE). This is true whether or not the student completes the major.

  • Area B1 (Physical Science) is satisfied upon completion of both CHEM 115 and CHEM 380.
  • Areas B2 (Life Science) and B3 (Laboratory Science) are satisfied upon completion of either BIOL 240 or BIOL 313.

Core (23-27 units)

BIOL 313Principles of Ecology3
CHEM 115General Chemistry I: Essential Concepts of Chemistry3-5
or CHEM 180 Chemistry for the Energy and the Environment
CHEM 380Chemistry Behind Environmental Pollution3
ENVS 130Environmental Studies3
ENVS 224Research Methods for Environmental Studies4
ENVS 450GWEnvironmental Law and Policy - GWAR3
ENVS 680Environmental Studies Internship1-3
ENVS 690Senior Seminar in Environmental Studies3

Electives (9-11 units)

Select one course from each category:
Physical Environment
ERTH 230Environmental Geology3
GEOG 101Our Physical Environment3
Sustainability and Social Justice
ENVS/ECON 306Economics and the Environment3
ENVS 460Energy, Justice, and Sustainability3
ENVS 480Climate Change Adaptation and Justice3
ENVS 570Applied Local Sustainability3
PHIL 470Environmental Ethics3
USP 514Sustainable Development in Cities4
USP 515/GEOG 667Environmental Justice: Race, Poverty, and the Environment4
Global/International
ENVS 470Climate Politics and Policy3
ENVS 480Climate Change Adaptation and Justice3
I R/ENVS 331Global Environmental Crisis4
I R/GEOG 428International Political Economy of Food and Hunger4

Electives (11-12 units)

Select 11-12 units not used to satisfy the elective categories above. Electives should be organized into a coherent area of study; three suggested pathways are shown below. Environmental Sustainability and Social Justice, The Urban Environment, and Humanities and the Environment. These pathways are not mandatory; students interested in alternative routes through the elective portion of the major should consult with an advisor.   

Guided Elective Pathway 1: Environmental Sustainability and Social Justice

The Environmental Sustainability and Social Justice guided electives provide students with a theoretical and applied understanding of the issues of sustainability and the connections between social justice and environmental problems and solutions. Students study the roles that values and social, political, and economic structures play in contributing to the environmental crisis. With the help of an advisor, students obtain depth by selecting elective courses from political science, American Indian studies, sociology, philosophy and religion, economics, urban studies and planning, geography, women and gender studies, and other related fields.

Take 11-12 units. Two courses must be from the shortlist. Courses used to meet other requirements of the major cannot also be used to meet the environmental sustainability and social justice emphasis requirements.

Shortlist

ENVS 460Energy, Justice, and Sustainability3
ENVS 470Climate Politics and Policy3
ENVS 480Climate Change Adaptation and Justice3
ENVS 530Environmental Leadership and Organizing3
ENVS 570Applied Local Sustainability3
GEOG 421Future Environments3
PLSI 354Politics, the Environment, and Social Change4
USP 514Sustainable Development in Cities (if not taken in core)4
USP 515/GEOG 667Environmental Justice: Race, Poverty, and the Environment4

Longlist

AIS 310American Indian Religion and Philosophy3
BECA 502Environmental Communication on Electronic Media3
BIOL 349Bioethics3
BUS 450Greening of Business3
CINE 344Film Genre3
CST 300/PLSI 386Introduction to Critical Social Thought3
ECON 550Environmental Economics3
ECON 620Economic Development3
ENG 490Grant Writing3
ENVS/ECON 306Economics and the Environment3
ENVS/I R 331Global Environmental Crisis4
GEOG 422Environmental Perception3
GEOG 425Economic Geography3
GEOG 427Agriculture and Food Supply4
GEOG/ENVS 600Environmental Problems and Solutions3
GEOG 647Geography of Water Resources4
GEOG/USP 652Environmental Impact Analysis4
GEOG 666Geography of Garbage: Recycling and Waste Reduction3
GPS/I R/PHIL 315Introduction to Global Peace Studies3
I R 334International Organizations: New World Order4
I R 520Globalization and Development4
LS 401International Development and Resource Justice3
LS 430Future of the Forests3
LS 460Childhood, Nature, and Society3
LS/HIST 681Community Service Learning in the Schools3
PH 655Environmental Health3
PHIL 365Science and Civilization3
PHIL 470Environmental Ethics3
PLSI/PHIL 355Politics and Ethics of the Consumer Society3
SOC/RRS 410Grassroots Organizing for Change in Communities of Color3
SOC 477Environmental Sociology3
SOC 483Global Sociology4
USP/S W 456Urban Community Organizing and Citizen Action3
Guided Elective Pathway 2: The Urban Environment

The Urban Environment guided electives provide students with a strong interdisciplinary theoretical and empirical understanding for dealing with environmental issues in urban settings. With the help of an advisor, students obtain depth by selecting elective courses focusing on sustainable urban development, environmental justice, land-use planning, environmental policy, and the urban environment in a global perspective.

Take 11-12 units. Two courses must be from the shortlist. Courses used to meet other requirements of the major cannot also be used to meet the Urban Environment emphasis requirements.

Shortlist

ENVS 460Energy, Justice, and Sustainability3
ENVS 480Climate Change Adaptation and Justice3
GEOG/USP 433Urban Transportation4
GEOG/USP 652Environmental Impact Analysis4
GEOG/USP 658Land-Use Planning4
USP 514Sustainable Development in Cities4
USP 515/GEOG 667Environmental Justice: Race, Poverty, and the Environment4

Longlist

BUS 450Greening of Business3
ENVS 530Environmental Leadership and Organizing3
ECON 550Environmental Economics3
ECON/USP 535Urban Economics3
ENVS/ECON 306Economics and the Environment3
ENVS 570Applied Local Sustainability3
ENVS 699Independent Study1-3
GEOG 425Economic Geography3
GEOG/USP 432Urban Geography4
GEOG/USP 433Urban Transportation4
GEOG/ENVS 600Environmental Problems and Solutions3
GEOG/USP 651San Francisco Bay Area Environmental Issues4
GEOG/USP 652Environmental Impact Analysis4
GEOG 666Geography of Garbage: Recycling and Waste Reduction3
I R/ENVS 331Global Environmental Crisis4
PHIL/PLSI 355Politics and Ethics of the Consumer Society3
RPT 440Urban Recreation and Parks3
SOC 480/USP 470City in a Global Society4
USP 530Alternative Urban Futures3
Guided Elective Pathway 3: Humanities and the Environment

The Humanities and the Environment guided electives explore the varied and complex ways that different cultures—past and present—view and communicate about the environment. With an advisor, students choose coursework in disciplines dealing with verbal or visual communication, such as communication studies, creative writing, technical and professional writing, ethnic studies, journalism, photography, design, electronic media, and cinema.

Take 11-12 units. Two courses must be from the shortlist. Courses used to meet other requirements of the major cannot also be used to meet the Humanities and the Environment emphasis requirements.

Shortlist

BECA 502Environmental Communication on Electronic Media (if not taken in the core)3
C W 508Introduction to Environmental Literature3
ENG 535Literature and Ecology (if not taken in the core)3
JOUR 580Environmental Journalism3
PHIL 470Environmental Ethics (if not taken in the core)3
PLSI 354Politics, the Environment, and Social Change4
WGS 593Gender, Health, and the Environment3

Longlist

ANTH 321Endangered Cultures3
CINE 344Film Genre3
CST 300/PLSI 386Introduction to Critical Social Thought3
COMM 348GWWriting About Environmental Rhetoric - GWAR4
ENVS 460Energy, Justice, and Sustainability3
ENVS 480Climate Change Adaptation and Justice3
ENVS 530Environmental Leadership and Organizing3
HUM 450/AMST 410California Culture3
HUM 380Nature and Human Values3
I R 334International Organizations: New World Order4
I R 520Globalization and Development4
LTNS 450Indigenismo: Indigenous Cultures of the Americas3
LS 460Childhood, Nature, and Society 13
LS/HIST 681Community Service Learning in the Schools 13
PHIL/PLSI 150Contemporary Moral/Political Issues3
PHIL 351Philosophy of Risk3
PHIL/PLSI 355Politics and Ethics of the Consumer Society3
PHIL 365Science and Civilization3
PHIL 383Ethics in Medicine3
SOC 477Environmental Sociology3

Complementary Studies

Bachelor of Arts students must complete at least 12 units of Complementary Studies outside of the primary prefix for the major. (Note: Students may not use an alternate prefix that is cross-listed with the primary prefix for the major.)

Students who complete two majors or a major and a minor automatically complete the Complementary Studies requirement. Additional ways for students in the Environmental Studies B.A. program to satisfy the requirement are with one or more languages other than English; partial completion of a minor; partial completion of certificate; or a coherent group of courses approved by a major advisor as complementary to the major.

All Complementary Studies units must be approved by an advisor and all of the units must be separate from the units used to satisfy major requirements. Courses that fulfill Complementary Studies units may be lower- or upper-division units, resident or transfer units, or units taken in approved study abroad programs.

General Education Requirements

Requirement Course Level Units Area Designation
Oral Communication LD 3 A1
Written English Communication I LD 3 A2
Critical Thinking LD 3 A3
Physical Science LD 3 B1
Life Science LD 3 B2
Lab Science LD 1 B3
Mathematics/Quantitative Reasoning LD 3 B4
Arts LD 3 C1
Humanities LD 3 C2
Arts or Humanities LD 3 C1 or C2
Social Sciences LD 3 D1
Social Sciences: US History LD 3 D2
Social Sciences: US & CA Government LD 3 D3
Lifelong Learning and Self-Development (LLD) LD 3 E
Physical and/or Life Science UD 3 UD-B
Arts and/or Humanities UD 3 UD-C
Social Sciences UD 3 UD-D
SF State Studies
Courses certified as meeting the SF State Studies requirements may be upper or lower division in General Education (GE), a major or minor, or an elective.
American Ethnic and Racial Minorities LD or UD 3 AERM
Environmental Sustainability LD or UD 3 ES
Global Perspectives LD or UD 3 GP
Social Justice LD or UD 3 SJ

Note: LD = Lower-Division; UD = Upper-Division.

First-Time Student Roadmap (4 Year)

Find the correct roadmap (A, B, C, or D):

  1. Select the row that matches your English Course choice for A2.*
  2. Select the column that matches your QR Category (found at your student center under Math Alert).
  3. Click the Roadmap that lines up with your row and column.

For example, if you are taking ENG 104 as your first English course and your student center math alert says you are QR Category III, you should choose Roadmap D.

Pathway QR Cat I/II QR Cat III/IV
ENG 114 Roadmap A Roadmap C
ENG 104/ENG 105 Roadmap B Roadmap D

*Composition for Multilingual Students: If taking ENG 209 as your first English course, choose the ENG 114 row. If taking ENG 204 for your first English course, choose the ENG 104/ENG 105 row.

Transfer Student Roadmap (2 Year)

For students with an AS-T in Environmental Science. This roadmap opens in a new tab.

General Advising Information for Transfer Students

  1. Before transfer, complete as many lower-division requirements or electives for this major as possible.
  2. The following courses are not required for admission but are required for graduation. Students are strongly encouraged to complete these units before transfer; doing so will provide more flexibility in course selection after transfer.
    • a course in U.S. History
    • a course in U.S. & California Government

For information about satisfying the requirements described in (1) and (2) above at a California Community College (CCC), please visit http://www.assist.org. Check any geographically accessible CCCs; sometimes options include more than one college. Use ASSIST to determine:

  • Which courses at a CCC satisfy any lower-division major requirements for this major;
  • Which courses at a CCC satisfy CSU GE, US History, and US & CA Government requirements.

Remedial courses are not transferable and do not apply to the minimum 60 semester units/90 quarter units required for admission.

Additional units for courses that are repeated do not apply to the minimum 60 units required for upper-division transfer (for example, if a course was not passed on the first attempt or was taken to earn a better grade).

Before leaving the last California Community College of attendance, obtain a summary of completion of lower-division General Education units (IGETC or CSU GE Breadth). This is often referred to as a GE certification worksheet. SF State does not require delivery of this certification to Admissions, but students should retain this document for verifying degree progress after transfer.

Credit for Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate, or College-Level Examination Program courses: AP/IB/CLEP credit is not automatically transferred from the previous institution. Units are transferred only when an official score report is delivered to SF State. Credit is based on the academic year during which exams were taken. Refer to the University Bulletin in effect during the year of AP/IB/CLEP examination(s) for details regarding the award of credit for AP/IB/CLEP.

Students pursuing majors in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) disciplines often defer 6-9 units of lower-division General Education in Areas C and D until after transfer to focus on preparation courses for the major. This advice does not apply to students pursuing associate degree completion before transfer.

Transferring From Institutions Other Than CCCs or CSUs

Review SF State's lower-division General Education requirements. Note that, as described below, the four basic skills courses required for admission meet A1, A2, A3, and B4 in the SF State GE pattern. Courses that fulfill the remaining areas of SF State’s lower-division GE pattern are available at most two-year and four-year colleges and universities.

Of the four required basic skills courses, a course in critical thinking (A3) may not be widely offered outside the CCC and CSU systems. Students should attempt to identify and take an appropriate course no later than the term of application to the CSU. To review more information about the A3 requirement, please visit bulletin.sfsu.edu/undergraduate-education/general-education/lower-division/#AAEL.

Waiting until after transfer to take a single course at SF State that meets both US and CA/local government requirements may be an appropriate option, particularly if transferring from outside of California.

All Students Must Meet the Transfer Eligibility Requirements Outlined Below for Admission.

For more information, visit the Undergraduate Admissions section.

  • Complete 60 or more transferable semester units or 90 or more quarter units.
  • Earn a college grade point average of 2.0 or better in all transferable courses. Non-local area residents may be held to a higher GPA standard.
  • Be in good standing at the last college or university attended.
  • Complete 30-semester units (45-quarter units) of General Education, including four basic skills courses:
    1. One course in oral communication (same as CSU GE Area A1)
    2. One course in written composition (same as CSU GE Area A2)
    3. One course in critical thinking (same as CSU GE Area A3)
    4. One course in mathematics or quantitative reasoning (same as CSU GE Area B4)
  • The four basic skills courses and a minimum of 60 transferable semester units (90-quarter units) must be completed by the spring semester prior to fall admission, or by the fall semester prior to spring admission. Earn a C- or better grade in each basic skills course.