Students conducting water quality tests

Environmental Studies

The environmental studies (ENS) major is structured to provide students with a fundamental grounding in environmental studies and an exploration of interdisciplinary approaches to environmental issues.


The mission of the environmental studies program is to help students gain an understanding of the ways that humans influence and are influenced by their non-human surroundings, and to learn to fashion ways of living equitably and sustainably on the earth. As a practical goal, environmental studies develops effective solutions to environmental issues with an understanding of the scientific, societal, and ethical dimensions of the problems. To do so, the major  draws on a wide array of fields, including anthropology, biology, chemistry, ecology, economics, English, history, philosophy, public policy, and religion.


The environmental studies major requires eleven courses arranged in four levels. It provides a solid background in the fundamental principles of environmental studies, promotes strong interdisciplinary understanding of environmental issues, and allows significant flexibility in tailoring the program. Students should focus on a particular area, or track, in the humanities, social studies, or sciences.

Major Requirements

Minor Requirements

“While participating in the Doris Duke Conservation Scholars Program, I visited several tribes and nations and learned how they were practicing in protecting the environment while being sustainable. That was really special.”

Carly Bishop

Environmental Studies/Art Studio double major

Environmental Studies and Art double major, Carly Bishop sitting at the edge of a lake showing fossils on a rock

Experiential Learning

Students engage in hands-on learning experiences and reflection to develop skills and increase knowledge retention.

Students have conducted summer research on sustainable foods in Australia and New Zealand, on green monkey behavior in Barbados, on rivers in Asia, worked with native bees in Mérida, Mexico, and studied tropical forest conservation in Ecuador.


We're committed to helping students find quality internship experiences in the career area of their choice.

Recent student internships include FoodChain (Lexington, Ky.), Charlie Elliott Wildlife Center (Mansfield, Ga.), and eco-friendly Hotel Kokoro (Alajuela, Costa Rica). Past research projects include mapping of the Central Kentucky Wildlife Refuge, and studying wild ginseng plant communities.


Our extraordinary liberal arts and sciences education prepares students for meaningful lives and careers.

The major is particularly appropriate for students who want to incorporate an environmental dimension into a professional career such as law, business, planning, public health, or education. Others have pursued advanced studies concentrating in environmental biology, and public and environmental affairs.

Environmental Studies Faculty

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Matt Downen

  • Assistant Director of the Center for Teaching and Learning
man wearing blue and white button up shirt with black coat on top in front of dark background

Jean Faye

  • Assistant Professor of Environmental Studies
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Megs Gendreau

  • Associate Professor of Philosophy
  • Associate Professor of Environmental Studies
  • Vice-Chair of Environmental Studies
  • Pre-Law Advisor
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Brett Werner

  • Associate Professor of Environmental Studies • De Facto Director of Sustainability
  • Chair of Environmental Studies
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Kaelyn Wiles

  • Associate Professor of Sociology
  • Chair of Anthropology/Sociology Programs

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