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]:

BST 200 Introduction to Climate Science (if not used as a prerequsite)
BIS 241 Nature & the Northwest
BIS 242 Environmental Geography (if not used as a prerequsite)
BIS 306 Marine Diversity and Conservation
BES 311 Environmental Chemistry
BES 312 Ecology
BES 318 Hydrogeology
BES 362 Introduction to Restoration Ecology
BIS 386 Global Environmental Issues
BIS 390 Ecology & The Environment
BIS 395 Environmental Change in WA State
BES 397 Special Topics in Env. Science
BES 430 Air Pollution and Health
BES 460 Water Quality
BES 485 Conservation Biology
BES 488 Wetland Ecology
BES 489 Pacific Northwest Ecosystems
BES 490 Pacific NW Plants in Restoration & Conservation

BIS 232 Using, Understanding & Visualizing Quantitative Data
BES 302 Environmental Problem Solving
BES 303 Environmental Monitoring Practicum (2 credits)
BES 316 Ecological Methods
BES 317 Soils Laboratory
BIS 340 Approaches to Cultural Research
BIS 342 Geographic Information Systems
BIS 405 Environmental Education
BIS 410 Topics in Qualitative Inquiry
BES 415 Advanced Environmental Measurements Laboratory
BIS 430 Social Theory and Practice
BES 439 Computer Model. & Visual in Environmental Science
BIS 442 Advanced Geographic Information Systems
BES 460 Water Quality
BES 462 Restoration Ecology Capstone: Introduction
BES 463 Restoration Ecology Capstone: Proposal and Plan
BES 487 Field Lab Wildland Plants and Soils
BES 490 Pacific Northwest Plants in Restoration & Conservation
BEDUC 493 Environmental Education

BIS 240 Introduction to Sustainable Practices
BIS 242 Environmental Geography (if not used as a prerequsite)
BIS 282 Globalization
BES 302 Env. Problem Solving
BISGST 303 History and Globalization
BISSEB 304 Institutions and Social Change
BIS 307 Environmental Justice
BIS 320 Comparative Political Economies
BISGST 324 International Political Economy
BIS 345 American Environmental Thought
BIS 353 Human Rights Theory & Practice
BIS 356 Ethics and the Environment
BIS 358 Issues in Environmental Science
BISSEB 359 Ethics and Society
BISGST 362 Contemporary Political Ideas & Ideologies
BIS 386 Global Environmental Issues
BIS 392 Water and Sustainability
BIS 391 Environmental History of the Pacific Northwest
BIS 394 Comparative Economic Development
BIS 411 Biotechnology and Society
BIS 458 Energy, Environment & Society
BIS 459 Conservation and Sustainable Development
BIS 468 Human Rights and Sustainable Development

BIS 307 Environmental Justice
BIS 338 Political Institutions & Processes
BIS 346 Topics in Environmental Policy
BES 362 Restoration Ecology
BIS 415 Public Policy and Law
BIS 419 Urban Politics and Policy
BIS 458 Energy, Environment and Society
BES 485 Conservation Biology
BES 486 Watershed Ecology & Management
BPOLST 492 Topics in Policy Research


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.