Thanks to Smith’s open curriculum and breadth of classes, it’s easy for students to take sustainability focused and related courses, no matter their major. Students can pick a major with an environmental focus from several departments, select a unique minor, or join the environmental concentration. There are many opportunities to Get Involved beyond the classroom as well, through internships, jobs, research, and more.
Majors & Minors
The need for environmentally literate citizens and well-educated professionals able to address increasingly complex and global environmental issues has never been greater. Pollution, ecosystem degradation and unsustainable use of natural resources are just a few examples of how humans are altering the Earth and its atmosphere in unprecedented ways. Smith's Environmental Science and Policy (ES&P) Program seeks to produce future leaders in the environmental field.
Biological sciences treats the life sciences in all their breadth and diversity, including the study of molecules, cells, whole organisms, ecosystems, plants, animals and microorganisms. Students interested in sustainability can select the Biodiversity, Ecology and Conservation track.
Courses in geosciences at Smith highlight hands-on and discovery-based learning through modern field and laboratory techniques, as well as interactive student-faculty research experiences. Majors in the environmental geosciences track take a range of courses within the department, as well as chemistry, ecology and environmental science and policy. A degree in geosciences can lead to a variety of rewarding careers that address pressing issues, including climate change, energy and water resources, environmental stewardship and natural hazards.
The Landscape Studies Program links faculty, students and courses in architecture, engineering, and environmental science and policy to study design, ecology, politics and human relationship to the environment. Smith's campus—which includes a botanic garden and an arboretum—and curriculum form a unique, rich archive and laboratory for the study of human interactions with the spaces and places we inhabit.
As an engineering major or minor students can take numerous courses and engage deeply in research on topics such as renewable energy, environmental engineering, hydrology, water quality and technology, and more.
The Marine Science and Policy (MS&P) minor permits students to pursue interests in coastal and oceanic systems through an integrated sequence of courses in the natural and social sciences. An introduction to marine sciences is obtained through completion of the two basis courses. Students then choose among upper-level courses that focus on or complement scientific investigation of the oceans and the policy aspects of ocean conservation, exploitation and management.
The Environmental Concentration gives students a way to organize a combination of intellectual and practical experiences, such as internships and service learning, around an environmental area of interest. A concentration allows for more flexibility than is possible within an academic minor, and students can pursue a concentration alongside a minor or a second major.
Sustainability Focused & Related Courses
Browse sustainability-related courses offered throughout the curriculum, including classes in anthropology, architecture, English language and literature, government and physics (please note the courses listed are meant to be a sample and some may not be offered every semester).
- AMS 201 Introduction to the Study of American Society and Culture
- AMS 349 Symposium in American Studies: Culture and Catastrophe
- ART 389 Broad-Scale Design and planning studio
- ART 380 Architect Design Studio: Terrest
ENGLISH LANGUAGE & LITERATURE
- ENG 100 Nature's Nation?: American Literature of the Environment
- ENG 222 Spirometers, Speculums and the Scales of Justice: Medicine and Law in 19th-Century African Diasporic
- ENG 363 Race and Environment
- PHI 221 Ethics and Society
SPANISH AND PORTUGUESE
- SPP 111 Beginning Portuguese
- SPP 228 Indigenous Brazil: Past, Present and Future
- SPN 230 Climate Voices
- SPP 381 Seminar in Portuguese and Brazilian Studies: Brasil Profundo: Landscape and the environmental imaginary in Brazilian Culture
- SWG 321 Marxist Feminism
- SWG 230 Gender, Land and Food Movements
- WLT 340 Problems in Literary Theory Narrating the Anthropocene
- BIO 130 Biodiversity Ecology and Conservation
- BIO 131 Biodiversity Ecology and Conservation Laboratory
- BIO (FYS) 196 Language of Love: Courtship Communication Across the Animal Kingdom
- BIO 207 Plant Physiology Laboratory
- BIO 268 Marine Ecology
- BIO 269 Marine Ecology Laboratory
- BIO 364 Plant Ecology
- BIO 365 Plant Ecology Laboratory
- CHM 108 Environmental Chemistry
- CHM 224 Chemistry IV: Introduction to Inorganic and Physical Chemistry
- CHM 346 Environmental Analytical Chemistry
- EGR 100 Engineering for Everyone: Energy and the Environment laboratory
- EGR 314 Seminar: Contaminants in Aquatic Systems
- EGR 315 Seminar: Ecohydrology
- EGR 390 Advanced Topics in Engineering: Environmental Engineering Systems and Processes
- EGR 410D Engineering Design and Professional Practice
- EGR 422D Design Clinic
ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCE & POLICY
- ENV 101 Sustainability and Social-Ecological Systems
- ENV 201 Researching Environmental Problems
- ENV 202 Researching Environmental Problems Laboratory
- ENV 311 Interpreting and Communicating Environmental Information
- ENV 312 Sustainable Solutions
- ENV 230 Colloquium: Environment and Society in Contemporary China
- ENV 323 Climate and Energy Policy
- ENV 340 Climate Change: Making Social Change Happen A Calderwood Seminar in Public Writing
- IDP (ENX) 100 Environment and Sustainability: Notes from the Field
- IDP 116 Design Thinking
- IDP (ENX) 301 Sustainable Food
- LSS 100 Landscape, Environment and Design
- LSS 105 Introduction to Landscape Studies
- LSS 110 Interpreting New England Landscape
- LSS (FYS) 151 A River Runs Through Us
- LSS 230 Urban Landscapes
- LSS 255 Art and Ecology
- LSS 260 Visual Storytelling
- LSS 389 Broad-Scale Design and Planning Studio
- GEO 101 Introduction to Earth Processes and History
- GEO 104 Global Climate Change: Exploring the Past, the Present and
- Options for the Future
- GEO 108 Oceanography: An Introduction to the Marine Environment
- GEO 150 Mapping our World: An Introduction to Geographic Information
- PHY 118 Introductory Physics
STATISTICAL AND DATA SCIENCES
- SDS 236 Data Journalism
- SDS 192. Introduction to Data Science
Recent Sample Courses
IDP 316: Critical Design Thinking
In spring 2020, the IDP 316: Critical Design Thinking course tackled issues related to climate change. Inspired by the College’s Year on Climate Change Initiative, Instructor Emily Norton worked with the Center for the Environment (CEEDS) to identify meaningful projects for students to apply their design thinking knowledge and skills. While the course is always hands-on and collaborative with students working in teams on projects, the students also worked with CEEDS staff to develop their design solutions. Projects included investigating how to better communicate the college’s carbon neutrality efforts, storytelling around climate change and its impacts, creating better indoor environments for informal learning, and turning a maker-space zero waste.
PSY 240 Collquium: Health Promotion
During the fall 2020 semester, students in Professor Benita Jackson’s PSY 240 Colloquium: Health Promotion class drafted policy memos addressed to President McCartney that proposed sustainable initiatives to address environmental issues on campus. The students’ policy memos were informed by the annual UN Climate Change Report and psychology research on how emotion and motivation can effectively frame messages and promote behavior change. Jackson’s goal for the course was for students to have “broadened their idea of health promotion to include work to halt the climate crisis and appreciate how psychology—identity, motivation, emotion—is so central to this project that affects all life.”