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Read the new concentration requirements here. Check back to the website for more details.


Dear Members of the Brown Community

We write to thank you for your feedback regarding the proposed revisions to the Environmental Studies and Environmental Science (ENVS) concentrations, and to bring you up to date on the latest curricular revisions.

The Committee to Review the Environmental Studies concentration was convened in August as part of the ongoing review of concentrations by the College. A group of twelve faculty, student, and staff members worked through the fall semester to reconsider the concentration’s curriculum in light of national trends and new faculty strength at Brown. The committee members read articles, consulted curricula at peer schools, conducted focus groups, and eventually sketched out a draft plan, which appeared in a report circulated to the community in February. The committee’s goal was, from that point, to turn to additional faculty and students from the Center for Environmental Studies (CES) and the Environmental Change Initiative (ECI) to make the draft more coherent and complete. This is exactly what happened, and we are pleased that the recent weeks of vigorous discussion and debate have resulted in a new proposal, now posted on the CES website. Please follow this link to read the new set of recommendations.

The proposed new curriculum is a structured, flexible program designed to enhance opportunities for students to work with faculty on key environmental problems and issues. Students will be able to channel their interests through a number of organized tracks; among them is a track on “Land, Water, and Food Security,” which has been refined and renamed directly in response to student demand. A mechanism for creating additional tracks has been suggested; we anticipate that all these pathways will continue to evolve as the curriculum is implemented and new faculty are hired. CES has been a strong proponent of what is sometimes called “engaged” scholarship—work that bridges the classroom and the community—and we are pleased that this feature has been highlighted in the revised concentration. The proposal includes notes on a program that can serve as a model for other departments. The new curriculum, which must be approved by the College Curriculum Council, will affect only those students who declare the concentration next year (academic year 2013-14). 

We want to thank the committee for its hard work throughout the fall semester, and the faculty in CES and ECI for their persistence and dedication in refining the committee’s recommendations. And we want to thank the many thoughtful and passionate members of the Brown community who responded to the draft report, spoke out in forums, and wrote letters expressing their views during the past several weeks. Through this collective conversation, a program has emerged that reflects both the practical necessities and the highest ideals of our diverse community.


Katherine Bergeron, Dean of the College

Janet Blume, Associate Dean of the Faculty and Interim Director, Center for Environmental Studies