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Environmental Science

Environmental science can be characterized as the intersection of humans with science. At Occidental, a concentration within our biology and geology majors allows you to undertake an interdisciplinary exploration of earth processes and ecosystems.

With Oxy’s distinctive approach, you will develop the range of skills required to analyze and solve the environmental problems pressing upon our world today. You’ll build a broad interdisciplinary foundation through a core set of courses in biology, geology and economics, and specialize by completing a major in biology or geology. Additionally, you can explore the policy aspects of environmental science through the UEP major.

Research is central to the understanding of complex environmental issues, and you’ll be able to take full advantage of Oxy’s unique location at the nexus of three distinctive ecosystems—the Pacific Ocean, the San Gabriel Mountains, and the Mojave Desert. The ability to carry out fieldwork in diverse ecosystems and geological formations within a few hours’ drive of campus means that instead of working solely through other people’s data, you’ll generate your own, working closely with faculty mentors as you do. Recent students have conducted senior research projects on sea-level rise in Hawaii, gas emissions and plant growth at Mammoth Mountain, climatic influences on outburst floods in Iceland, heat tolerance in tropical and Mediterranean trees, and the biogeochemical effects of Martian soil on plant growth.

You’ll graduate with a B.A. in biology or geology with an environmental science concentration. Our alumni have gone on to pursue graduate work in biology, geology, and environmental science as well as professional and academic careers in such fields as forestry, water management, environmental engineering, geotechnical and ecological consulting, environmental risk assessment, and teaching.

What Our Graduates Are Doing

Ph.D. program, environmental science, UC Berkeley

Joan Dudney
2006

Forest Management, SCS Global Services

Evan Poirson
2009

Ph.D. program, ecology & evolutionary biology, UCLA

Marvin Browne
2017

Pathology Research Associate, HistoTox Labs

Fiona Gowen-Huang
2010

Entomology Intern, Natural History Museum of LA County

Hannah Hayes
2018

Environmental Scientist, Arcadis Design & Consultancy

Joseph Statwick
2009

Compliance and GIS Geologist, Red 5 Limited

Stephanie Kay
2010

Postdoctoral Scholar, Chinese Academy of Sciences

Christina Wong
2006

Field Team Leader, Elements Wilderness Program

Riley Wall
2017

Environmental Science Core Courses

First-level courses:

Earth: Our Environment (Geology 105)
Introductory Biology (105, 106, 110, or 115)
Introductory Economics (101)

Second-level courses:

Spatial Analysis with GIS (Geo 255)
Earth's Climate: Past and Future (Geo 245)
Biodiversity and Organization of Marine and Terrestrial Ecosystems (Bio 260) or Ecology (Bio 270)
Environmental Economics (Econ 301) or another 300-level course dealing with environmental policy, chosen in consultation with Academic Advisor.

Additional courses within major concentration:

Introduction to Cellular & Molecular Biology (Bio 130)

Vertebrate Physiology (Bio 240), Plant Form & Function (Bio 250), or Flora Of Southern California (Bio 275)

Evolutionary Biology (Bio 280)

Three 300-level courses (e.g., Bio 350, 360, 369, 377, 380)

Chemistry 120 and one other chemistry course with lab

Mathematics through Math 120 (or equivalent) or Math 110 and approved statistics course

Introduction to Field Methods (Geo 225)

Global Tectonics and Geophysics (Geo 235)

Earth Materials (Geo 305)

Structural Geology/Adv Mapping (Geo 325)

Geomorphology (Geo 342) or Sedimentary Geology

Senior Seminar (Geo 490)

Mathematics through Math 120 (or equivalent) or Math 110 and approved statistics course

Recommended:
Chemistry 120, Physics 110 or 115, 120 or 125 for students planning to attend graduate school or pursue a professional career in Geology or Environmental Science

Contact Environmental Science
Bioscience Building