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  • Environmental Studies Hero

    Environmental Studies (BA/BS)

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    Admission Contact
    Office of Undergraduate Admission
    72 Fifth Ave.
    New York, NY 10011
    212.229.5150 or 800.292.3040

    Program Contact
    Christina McElderry
    64 West 11th St., Room 120
    New York, NY 10011

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  • Earn a bachelor's degree in Environmental Studies in a program open to transfer students, adults, and other nontraditional undergraduates. This program takes an interdisciplinary approach to understanding the defining ecological issues of our time and creating opportunities to tackle them in practical, direct ways. Students go beyond natural ecology and resource conservation to focus on urban ecosystems, sustainable design, and public policy issues like global warming.

    • Degree Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Science
    • Credits 120 (up to 84 transfer credits)
    • Format Full-time or part-time, on campus (some classes available online)
    • Start Term Fall or Spring

    Innovative Curriculum

    The Environmental Studies major is rooted in the understanding that complex environmental problems cannot be grasped through a single discipline. As a student in the program, you investigate the relationship between humans and their environment through social, ecological, and political dimensions. We emphasize three main areas:

    • A firm grounding in the natural sciences, particularly urban ecology and resilience
    • A sustained engagement with environmental policy and politics, particularly around aspects of inequality, race, and justice
    • Studio-based work on design and sustainability

    Our students are innovators and creative problem solvers passionate about facing the environmental challenges of this century, curious about the interaction between humans and their environments, and inspired to bring about social and ecological justice.

    Learn more about the curriculum

    Degree Options and Concentrations

    You can choose to earn a Bachelor of Arts (BA) or a Bachelor of Science (BS) in Environmental Studies. BA students can concentrate in Urban Ecosystems and Public Policy. BS students can concentrate in Urban Ecosystem Design. In addition to this difference, the BS requires you to take two extra studio classes in which you work on closely supervised design projects, and you complete a design-based capstone project. In short, if you are interested in policy or environmental science, you might choose to earn a BA. If you are interested in sustainable design, you might choose the BS. You can decide once you are here.

    Interdisciplinary Excellence

    The New School offers the BA/BS in Environmental Studies as part of the university's suite of cross-college, interdisciplinary undergraduate programs, which includes Global Studies, Environmental Studies, and Urban Studies. These interdisciplinary programs are designed to prepare students for the new careers of the 21st century.   

    Career Paths

    Environmental Studies graduates pursue their passions in many areas such as sustainability consulting, public policy, urban design, urban planning, or continued graduate study, including in The New School's MS in Environmental Policy and Sustainability Management program.

  • Learn from and work with faculty mentors who are academic scholars and professional leaders in environmental and sustainability fields.

  • Featured Courses

    • The state of the air, water, and soil climate change, habitat conversion, invasive species, biodiversity decline, deforestation, overfishing, and many other environmental issues are at the core of most of our pressing economic, social, political and human health concerns. This course examines the roots of the modern environmental crisis, reviewing the most current environmental issues and the underlying science for a critical look at how societies have interacted with the natural environment past and present and requirements for a sustainable future. The course consists of small group discussions, readings and case studies.

      This course is open to all bachelor level students at the university.

      More information
    • This course explores historical and contemporary experiences of African Americans, American Indians, European Americans, Asian Americans, and Latinos in relation to the use of natural resources. We start with the contention that natural resource management is premised upon historically and culturally distinct relationships between humans and nature, and associated social and economic systems. These, in turn, are conditioned by struggles between individuals and groups over access to and control of land, water and other resources. We focus on political economy, property, ecology, identity, representation and narrative to investigate complex relationships between humans and nature, and how these have influenced urban and rural social life and landscapes. For instance, we examine how racial difference has shaped Indian rights to forest resources and management practices in northern California, Chinese American access to farmland in the California Delta, the environmental and social contexts of water management and drought in California, and divergent experiences of New Orleans residents before, during and after Hurricane Katrina.

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    • UENV 3750


      This course links urban ecology and urban design through a civic engagement project at with partners building, designing, and managing green roofs in NYC. Green roofs are examples of green infrastructure, often seen by policy makers and community members as a way to increase biodiversity in cities, mitigate urban heat, absorb stormwater, and provide novel spaces for social benefits. Yet, there is less research-based evidence quantifying these social and ecological benefits in the context of a rooftop green space, and therefore limited information about how they can be enhanced to maximize their social and environmental benefits. In this course, we examine specific social, ecological and environmental aspects of urban green roofs and learn urban field ecology and participatory research design techniques in partnership with Brooklyn Grange, a worldwide pioneer in rooftop farming with large-scale green roofs in Brooklyn and Queens. We connect scientific knowledge and awareness of New York City policy contexts with diverse design skills as we study urban ecology in the vertical architecture of the city. This intensive studio course will allow us to build the knowledge base for designing improved functionality, beauty, and ecological and environmental features that benefit both human and non-human species. We will meet at the project site on the roofs Sunset Park, Long Island City, Williamsburg and other green roofs several times throughout the semester.

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    • This course will examine how renewable energy sources of all kinds, including increasing energy efficiency, will contribute to the transition to a sustainable economy. Social, political and technical issues will be considered. This course is restricted to Juniors and Seniors.

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    • UENV 3400


      Urbanization and climate change are on a collision course. With increasing frequency, intensity and impacts of extreme events in cities, building resilience is fast becoming one of the most important issues for cities globally. The aim of this course is to examine the past, present and future relations between cities, urbanization and ecological infrastructure; to introduce students to urban systems science, including biophysical and social science and planning as lenses for exploring resilience of complex urban systems; and to encourage empirical, normative and imaginative reflection on the possibilities (and potential pathologies) that lie behind discourse of 'urban sustainability' and 'resilience'. The central objective of this course is to explore historical and current scientific perspectives on human dominated ecosystems and resilience; future prospects of the study of cities through a critical systems theory lens and how they can be resilient to rising urban pressures including climate change and development. We will explore key terms, concepts, frameworks, and models in urban ecology and the development of urban systems science. We will use recently extreme events in the Americas from Hurricane Sandy, Harvey and Maria to heat waves and other climate change related extreme events as a backdrop for examining what practices currently exist in planning and policy to adapt and build resilience to the rising social, ecological, and technological infrastructure impacts. This course will expose students to on-the-ground resilience challenges and opportunities in New York City through a series of field visits, place-based explorations and analyses, and guest speakers. Together, we will cover such key questions as: What are complex adaptive social -ecological-technological systems? What is resilience and how are cities vulnerable to disturbances disasters and changing climate regimes? Can cities be designed as sustainable and resilient systems?

      More information
  • Environmental Studies students are tackling some of the most pressing challenges of our time, from urban sustainability and climate resilience to equity and justice.

    Timon McPhearson, Associate Professor of Urban Ecology
  • Take The Next Step

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