Initial Publication Date: August 1, 2012

BA Environmental Studies at the University of Washington-Bothell

Information for this profile was provided by Robert J. Turner, School of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences, University of Washington-Bothell Campus. Information is also available on the program website. Students in this program are pursuing a bachelors degree.

Program Design & Assessment


The Environmental Studies major is designed for students who want to act critically and creatively in response to the environmental challenges facing the world today. The major's two pathways, Sustainability & Society (S&S) and Conservation Science & Management (CSM), share a commitment to educating future practitioners who can address those challenges in their professional careers.


The program was developed to: 1) provide a home for natural science teaching and faculty within the Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences program; 2) prepare students to address significant environmental and societal challenges; 3) enhance the interdisciplinarity of the IAS program; and 4) take advantage of the local natural environment, including the 50 acre restored wetlands on campus, as sites for study.

Program Goals

The BA in Environmental Studies teaches students to integrate environmental knowledge across the natural and social sciences, as well as the arts and humanities. Hands-on learning, field experiences, and problem-based instruction focus on finding answers to complex problems that include scientific, social, political, cultural, and ethical dimensions.

Alumni Careers

Graduates are best prepared for careers in natural resource management, conservation, ecology, ecological restoration, water quality monitoring and assessment, GIS, environmental advocacy, and environmental education.

Other careers our alums have pursued:
Just about everything.

Program Assessment

Regular meetings of the faculty in the Curriculum Area Working Groups for the Environmental Science and Environmental Studies degree programs. Annual reports to the director of the School of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences (IAS). Reviews of student evaluations of courses as part of our Merit Review process. Periodic external review of the School of IAS and its degree programs.

Courses and Sequencing

Entry into the program

Prerequisites include:
  • Intermediate Algebra: 5 credits
  • Foreign Language: 10 credits
  • English Composition: 5 credits
  • Quantitative and Symbolic Reasoning (QSR): 5 credits
Additional BA Environmental Studies prerequisites include two introductory lab courses in Biology, Chemistry or Earth System Science (may be from two different areas), plus one introductory Statistics course.

Core courses

  • BIS 300 Interdisciplinary Inquiry* (5 credits)
  • BES 301 Science Methods & Practice OR BIS 312 Approaches to Social Research (5 credits)
  • BIS 243 Introduction to Environmental Studies (5 credits)
  • BES 312 Ecology OR BIS 390 Ecology and the Environment (5 credits)
  • BCUSP 200 Introduction to Microeconomics, BIS 320 Comparative Political Economies, BISGST 324 International Political Economy, BIS 394 Comparative Economic Development or equiv. Economics course (5 credits)
  • BIS 356 Ethics and the Environment OR BIS 345 American Environmental Thought

Pathway Requirements - Choose either (S&S) or (CSM)

Sustainability & Society (S&S) Core Requirements (10 credits)
Choose two from the following
  • BIS 240 Introduction to Sustainable Practices (5 credits)
  • BIS 392 Water & Sustainability (5 credits)
  • BIS 396 Topics in Sustainability (5 credits)
  • BIS 459 Conservation & Sustainability Development (5 credits)
  • BIS 468 Human Rights and Sustainable Development (5 credits)

Conservation Science & Management (CSM) Core Requirements (10 credits)
  • BIS 342 Geographic Information Systems (5 credits)
  • BES 485 Conservation Biology (5 credits)

Distribution Requirements (20 credits)
  • Environmental Science (5 credits)
  • Methods & Practice (5 credits)
  • Society & Environment (5 credits)
  • Policy & Management (5 credits)


In the BA Environmental Studies program, students have 20 credits of distribution requirements (4 courses) and 27 credits of general electives (6 courses).

Courses that can fulfill the Distribution Requirements for either the BA Environmental Studies and the BS Environmental Science [there actually are a few differences in terms of the courses that can fullfill the distribution requirements of the two degrees and 4 pathways, but they are mostly the same]:


Students in the BA Environmental Studies degree must complete BIS 499 Portfolio Capstone within their final two quarters. In this course, students complete their learning/professional portfolio. Final portfolios include reflective essays and evidence of learning based in work completed during the degree.

Other requirements or key features

All UWB students must complete 25 credits in each "Area of Knowledge." The Areas of Knowledge are: Visual, Literary and Performing Arts (VLPA), Individuals and Societies (I&S), and Natural World (NW). At least 10 credits in each Area must be completed in courses offered by UW Bothell.

All Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences students must also complete the IPR requirement. The Interdisciplinary Practice and Reflection (IPR) requirement ensures that all IAS students complete at least one course that requires an advanced research, creative, or experiential learning project before they graduate. IAS courses meeting this requirement are low-enrollment and high-impact. They typically involve close engagement with a faculty member and assume prior study in the area. These courses allow students to complete a project that draws on their academic interests and furthers their life ambitions. The project might be a seminar paper in a particular area of study; an academic internship in a relevant field; a service-learning project that builds on the student's academic work; a study abroad opportunity; an art and media project or production. Courses that satisfy the IPR requirement ask students to reflect on the value, challenges, and effectiveness of their work in relation to their undergraduate education as a whole.