Environmental Studies, B.A.

Program Overview

Does your passion for writing, art, or activism align with your call to care for the environment? If so, PLNU’s Bachelor of Arts in Environmental Studies equips you to pair your talent and Christian worldview to address our planet’s climate crisis and create sustainable change.

Housed in PLNU’s department of Literature, Journalism, Writing & Languages, the environmental studies program offers foundational courses in biology, the social and political sciences, and the arts and humanities — along with focused concentrations of study ranging from creative writing or literature to media arts or public policy — to give you depth of expertise as well as breadth of perspective.

As Jesus proclaims in Matthew 22:37-39, the two commandments which encompass all others are to love God and love neighbor. Cultural geographer Carolyn Finney claims it is necessary for humans to “understand how our unhealthy relationships with the natural environment are intimately linked to our unhealthy relationships with each other.” PLNU’s environmental studies program makes that link by providing cultural context, scientific foundation, and communication skills as they relate to humans and the environment. 

The goal of the environmental studies major is for students to develop compassion for all of creation and other humans by listening to and understanding the context of the human story across cultures; with foundational knowledge of ecosystems and the human relationship to them; with communication skills in writing, media, and verbal avenues; and with the agency to use these traits to serve in the world.

Choose one of the following concentrations: 

Biology

A strong background in the biology and chemistry of environmental systems empowers environmental justice with the ability to evaluate and use scientific data. With a concentration in biology, an environmental studies major can wield your biological expertise to educate and inform environmental social action. Careers include: sustainability officer, lab management, science writer.

Cultural Studies

Understanding where our current ideas about environmental and social justice come from is vital to having agency for positive change. Environmental studies majors with a cultural studies concentration will be able to identify, critique, challenge, or champion cultural stories and themes about humanity’s relationship with the environment. Careers include: teaching, nonprofit management, public relations.

Design

Good design can capture the imagination and bring about powerful change. With a concentration in design, environmental studies majors gain valuable skills in presenting information and arguments in a visually pleasing format to reach a wide audience for environmental change. Careers include: graphic design, science illustration, biodesign, branding.

Social Impact

Social service impacts the way the world works. With a social impact concentration, environmental studies majors will understand the structures and policies that govern our culture and find avenues of service that will let them be a powerful force for environmental change in the world. Careers include: law, urban planning, social work, public administration.

Writing and Communication

A clearly communicated idea has the most impact. With a writing and communication concentration, environmental studies majors will develop the skills to share their ideas and stories both in written and verbal outlets. Clear communicators can take the complexity of many environmental issues and present them for a wide audience to understand. Careers include: editing, writing, screenwriting, journalism, marketing.

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Student Support

For most students, the transition into college life is one full of adjustments. There is the excitement of newfound freedoms, but also some uncertainty as you begin to make choices and take responsibility for your own future. 

At PLNU, we’re committed to supporting you — academically, professionally, spiritually, personally — so that you may be successful both in your time as a student and beyond. That’s why we offer a holistic support system that focuses on your unique experiences, particular needs, and personal and professional goals — resulting from our deep concern for you, our student.

With a focus on authentic relationships and personalized attention, our goal is to help transform you so you can follow your calling in your own career and life.

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Career Opportunities

Do you have a passion for hiking, writing, exploring nature, and understanding its origin in context with humanity? Merge your love of the great outdoors with your education through a degree in environmental studies. Covering a wide range of science topics and humanities disciplines, you’ll better understand not only the inner workings of the environment around you, but also how you can be an advocate and innovator for conservation efforts. 

Environmental studies vs. environmental science:

While environmental science focuses on the mechanisms behind the problems our environment faces, environmental studies give more of an overview through the many social, political, and economic perspectives.

At PLNU, our Environmental Studies B.A. program focuses on two goals:

  • Developing your understanding of the relationship between humans and ecosystems 
  • Growing your communication skills in writing, media, and public speaking with an emphasis on the use of these skills for sustainability and conservation efforts

What do environmental studies jobs look like post-graduation?

Employment in careers related to a degree in environmental studies is projected to remain steady given the current state of our climate and environment. For environmental engineers (one of the careers pursued by graduates of the PLNU environmental studies programs), employment is projected to grow 3% from 2019 to 2029 (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics).

What are PLNU alumni doing with their degrees in environmental science?

Many graduates of the PLNU environmental science program have gone on to work at waste/recycling facilities, zoos and wildlife rehabilitation organizations, and even government departments such as the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. All graduates are equipped to work in many different and interesting places — in labs, in remote nature, and even in positions of government leadership or consultation.

Some of the positions PLNU graduates currently hold:

Sustainability Specialist

2020 Median annual salary: $65,172

Sustainability specialists manage and find solutions to sustainability issues, such as waste stream management and green building practices. These specialists consult a wide range of clients such as private organizations and government agencies. They also create plans, presentations, and other documents to record sustainability projects.

Necessary attributes and skills:

  • Developing project goals, objectives, and initiatives
  • Collaboration with other sustainability professionals
  • Providing technical or administrative support for sustainability programs
  • Monitoring or tracking sustainability indicators
  • Researching or reviewing market issues related to sustainability
  • Reviewing and revising sustainability proposals or policies

Policy Analysts

2020 Median annual salary: $68,458

Policy analysts research complex problems and recommend solutions. These issues range from education to healthcare to national defense. In relation to an environmental studies degree, analysts consult government officials on how effective current legislation is at protecting or taking into account the sustainability of the environment. Most policy analysts work on collecting information, analyzing potential policies, making recommendations, evaluating the outcomes of existing policies, and sharing information with the public and government officials.

Necessary attributes and skills:

  • A strong writer and speaker
  • Robust understanding of inner workings of government and legislation
  • Thorough knowledge of an organization’s niche
  • Maintaining and making quick deadlines
  • Identification of causes and solutions to problems
  • Creativity to pitch and share solutions and edits

Environmental Engineer

2020 Median annual salary: $92,120

Environmental engineers use their knowledge of the science behind soil, ecosystems, and weather to develop solutions to environmental problems. Locally, they aim to rethink and improve waste disposal, recycling, public health, and pollution control. As far as global issues, they think up solutions to unsafe drinking water, climate change, and environmental sustainability.

Necessary attributes and skills:

  • Collaboration with other sustainability professionals
  • Researching or reviewing market issues related to sustainability
  • Reviewing and revising environmental investigation reports
  • Creativity to design projects focused on environmental protection
  • Obtaining, updating, and maintaining plans, permits, and standard operating procedures
  • Providing technical support for environmental remediation projects and for legal actions
  • Analyzing scientific data

Explore nature and humans’ symbiotic relationship on your journey to a degree in environmental studies

The Environmental Studies B.A. from PLNU prepares you with experience and knowledge to be an innovator in protecting and promoting the conservation of the environment. It also will provide new insight into various social, political, and economic perspectives and how they impact the environment. Whether you pursue field research, advocacy work, or an advanced degree in this field, you’ll be ready with the knowledge you gained on PLNU’s campus. 

Apply to PLNU today or get connected with one of our counselors for additional support and to answer any questions you may have.

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