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Environmental Studies Major Concentration

The interdisciplinary Environmental Studies Program prepares students for leadership positions in environmental research, education, and outreach that emphasizes the need to fully incorporate environmental justice into the development and implementation of environmental solutions.

This program focuses on environmental problems currently plaguing our nation and the global community, but pays particular attention to issues disproportionately affecting people of color. Issues such as climate change and toxic exposures require leadership and solutions that include the full diversity of all peoples. Howard University is uniquely positioned to train and educate students for this challenge. 

Environmental issues, including climate change, represent many of, if not the most, serious challenges in the 21st century. The sheer magnitude and complexity of these issues, along with the critical need to address them, requires development of future leaders who represent the full diversity of all peoples and all of the cognate fields encompassed within environmental studies. Historically, environmental organizations have not included many of the people who suffer most from environmental conditions.

The Environmental Studies program will develop a cadre of professionals who address that issue and who are trained to:

  • recognize that both basic and applied research are necessary to develop solutions to pressing environmental issues;
  • identify ethical impediments and associated risks for populations of varying ethnic, social, cultural and economic backgrounds;
  • establish empowerment programs that improve the capacities of individuals and communities to meaningfully interact in political and scientific discussions as well as affect material outcomes;
  • increase knowledge of ecological and cultural relationships, particularly in the vein of understanding how human populations manage, impact, and develop local landscapes, habitats, natural resources, and environments for certain animals and how those environments in turn impact their well-being, flourishing, and sustainability;
  • increase understanding of cultural impacts on the environment, thus providing an education focused specifically on the roles and responsibilities of communities in regard to environmental conservation and preservation;
  • address and ameliorate the rapidly deteriorating environmental conditions;
  • increase representation of individuals from underrepresented groups in environmental decision-making processes.

Howard University was one of the first HBCUs with an environmental studies program and faculty have engaged in environmental research across many disciplines, including the arts, social sciences, humanities, natural sciences, engineering, law, and medicine. The program responds to the growing demand among students for training in the environmental arena, provides increased opportunities for research, and allows the university to respond to its historic mission to develop students who can represent and protect underserved communities around the world.

The Environmental Studies program prepares students for leadership positions in environmental research, education, and outreach that emphasizes the need to fully incorporate environmental justice into the development and implementation of environmental solutions. This program focuses on environmental problems currently plaguing our nation and the global community, but pays particular attention to issues disproportionately affecting people of color. Issues such as climate change and toxic exposures require leadership and solutions that include the full diversity of all peoples.  Howard University is uniquely positioned to train and educate students for this challenge. 

The academic program consists of four components: 

  1. Foundation courses in environmental studies,
  2. Research and methods course(s) to provide basic training in empirical research and statistical and data analysis,
  3. Advanced courses that expose students to the breadth of the field while allowing focus within the major, and
  4. A Capstone Experience in the form of an internship, field school, or a research experience.

Advanced courses in the major draw from a variety of disciplines, including African Studies, Afro-American Studies, Biology, Chemistry, English, History, Mathematics, Sociology, Philosophy, Political Science, Psychology, and Physics.

Capstone Experience courses provide students with internship and research opportunities, as well as opportunities other professional training.  While the emphasis of Environmental Studies is to prepare students to continue their studies at professional and graduate schools, concentrations in four areas—Conservation, Health and Culture, Policy, and Pollution—also allow graduates a wide selection of other career opportunities with federal, state and local agencies, a variety of nongovernmental organizations, and in the private sector.