The Earth Systems Program is an interdisciplinary environmental science major. Students learn about and independently investigate complex environmental problems caused by human activities in conjunction with natural changes in the Earth system. Earth Systems majors become skilled in those areas of science, economics, and policy needed to tackle the world's most pressing social-environmental problems, becoming part of a generation of scientists, professionals, and citizens who approach and solve problems in a systematic, interdisciplinary way.

For students to be effective contributors to solutions for such problems, their training and understanding must be both broad and deep. To this end, Earth Systems students take fundamental courses in ecology, calculus, chemistry, geology, and physics, as well as economics, policy, and statistics. After completing breadth training, they concentrate on advanced work in one of six focus areas: biology, energy, environmental economics and policy, land systems, sustainable food and agriculture, or oceanography and climate. Tracks are designed to support focus and rigor but include flexibility for specialization. Examples of specialized foci have included but are not limited to environment and human health, sustainable agriculture, energy economics, sustainable development, business and the environment, and marine policy. Along with formal course requirements, Earth Systems students complete a 1-unit (270-hour) internship. The internship provides a hands-on academic experience working on a supervised field, laboratory, government, or private sector project.


Beginning 2021-2022
1. New requirement in Environmental Justice, Ethics, and Human Rights

Creating effective solutions to socio-environmental challenges requires competency with interrogating problems and their potential solutions in light of ethical, justice, and human rights considerations. To support development of this competency, students are required to take a minimum of one course that provides an opportunity to do at least one of the following:

  • Apply a holistic understanding of frameworks, histories, and theories from environmental justice, environmental human rights, or environmental ethics to the problematization of socio-environmental challenges across multiple disciplines. 

  • Develop the capacity to support and integrate frameworks from environmental justice, environmental human rights, or environmental ethics within institutions, organizations, and places of employment as part of one’s career.

  • Translate and communicate environmental justice or environmental human rights knowledge from communities, stakeholders, academia, and others to diverse audiences including decision makers. 
    Creating effective solutions to socio-environmental challenges requires competency with interrogating problems and their potential solutions in light of ethical, justice, and human rights considerations.

  1. Electives will no longer be a requirement for students who declare AY Autumn 2021- Summer 2022.