Environmental Studies University of California, San Diego - John Muir College

The Environmental Studies Minor is open to students from all majors and colleges at UC San Diego. It offers a broad interdisciplinary perspective on the environmental aspects of any field of study. Scientists, engineers, policy-makers, and business leaders alike will be challenged to find solutions to problems such as global warming, energy use, and the decline in natural ecosystems and biodiversity. For nearly forty years, the program’s course offerings have enabled students to develop critical perspectives on the environmental implications in their own major, discipline, and field. A fundamental objective of the minor is for students to understand the environmental and ecological implications of the climate crisis in an interdisciplinary fashion across science, social policy, and ethical dimensions. Courses often incorporate pressing problems about the environment with provocative solutions and debate.

Emphasis on Environmental Justice

Over the past five years, the program has responded to student-centered calls and societal demands for more inclusive representation in the movements for environmental justice, racial justice, educational equity, and indigenous rights. As a growing field of research and practice, the field of environmental studies is undergoing a necessary transformation. The program has moved from its early focus on nature and conservation to now squarely built around environmental justice, with attention to Indigenous approaches to climate change, food sovereignty, inclusive outdoor education, art and the environment, environmental law, and coastal ecology. Contemporary scholarship must account for the acute impacts of the climate crisis on Indigenous nations, migration, Global South societies, as well as U.S. based historically marginalized, underrepresented, and disenfranchised communities.

Outdoor Education

Outdoor education has always been a feature of the Environmental Studies Minor since the founding provost of John Muir College, John Stewart, took his students on wilderness trips and conducted rope course activities on the Tamarack and Tioga buildings of the College. Our current seminars led by Profs Matthew Herbst and Geoff Cooke have culminated in wilderness trips. Our Coastal Ecology course has enjoyed a close relationship with the UC Natural Reserve system for field-based classes. New developments include the incorporation of iNaturalist and other fieldwork software into our courses, so that some classroom time takes place outdoors. Conservation Solutions has shifted to a field-based course, and now includes a co-curricular option for students to participate in docent training at Torrey Pines State Park. We have incorporated a kayaking field excursion in Matkulaxuuy waters for our Coastal Ecology students by partnering with UCSD Outback Adventures. Global Seminars collaborate with faculty on the main campus and at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography. This approach upholds the Environmental Studies Program’s educational philosophy and commitment to outdoor educational opportunities.

Declaring the Environmental Studies Minor - To declare the Environmental Studies minor, please use the major/minor tool on Tritonlink

Image: VIS 151A Seminar Visit to Joshua Tree National Park, California with UCSD Outback Adventures (February 2019); Photo credit: Alena Williams