Environmental Studies


Many of the most pressing challenges of the 21st Century are environmental ones. We must find ways to feed a growing human population while maintaining the natural life support system provided by the Earth's ecosystems; to make built environments more efficient as urban areas continue to grow dramatically in size; and to meet the challenges posed by rising sea-level and increasing global temperatures. These challenges are complex, multifaceted and can best be solved with expertise from multiple, relevant disciplines. To prepare students to meet these challenges, the Institute at Brown for Environment and Society (IBES) offers two undergraduate degrees: an A.B. in Environmental Studies and a Sc.B. in Environmental Science. The two degrees vary primarily in the number of course requirements; the Sc.B. is a more in-depth treatment of a single field. Both degrees provide interdisciplinary exposure to the natural and social sciences, as well as public policy. Both degrees also develop depth in a primary field by requiring students to select one of four tracks of study. Concentrators might also consider pursuing the Engaged Scholars Program, which allows them to connect theory and practice and gain hands-on experience working with community partners. 

Through a rigorous set of core courses, track requirements, and a course or project-based capstone experience, our students are primed to make meaningful contributions to environmental scholarship and outreach at local, national and global scales.

If you have administrative questions regarding theses concentrations or wish to be added to the email directory listing upcoming events, then please contact Jeanne Loewenstein, the administrative manager.

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Student Goals

Students in this concentration will:

  • Understand environmental issues through a variety of disciplines, including the natural and social sciences, as well as public policy
  • Acquire critical skills in research and design analysis
  • Develop a focused area of environmental expertise
  • Complete an integrative senior project or capstone course


Click here for a list of concentration requirements.

Honors and Capstones

View Honors website

All concentrators must complete a senior capstone experience. This requirement can be met in the following ways:

  • completing a designated capstone course
  • conducting a one-semester independent project
  • conducting a one or two-semester environmental practicum
  • conducting a two-semester thesis

At the conclusion of the sixth semester, students who have a grade point average of at least 3.3 in the concentration may apply for Honors. Applications should be made before the end of the seventh semester. To be approved for Honors a student must identify two thesis readers in addition to the student’s primary faculty advisor and the thesis itself must be deemed to be of the highest quality. Please see the IBES website for a complete description of admission procedures and program requirements.


  • Air, Climate & Energy
  • Conservation Science & Policy
  • Environment and Inequality
  • Land, Water & Food Security
  • Sustainability in Development

Liberal Learning

This concentration allows you to address the following Liberal Learning goals:

  • Expand your reading skills
  • Collaborate fully
  • Engage with your community
  • Experience scientific inquiry
  • Evaluate human behavior
  • Work on your speaking and writing

Download the full statement on Liberal Learning at Brown

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Director of Undergraduate Studies

Graduating Class

Year Total Capstone Honors
201342 42 
201452 52 
201540 40 
201632 32 
201718 18 

Alumni Pathways

The majority of graduates with an Sc.B. or A.B. in Environmental Studies are now active in environmental professions or are furthering their studies of environmental fields. Many have pursued graduate degrees in law, public policy, business administration, education, and public health, as well as doctoral degrees in fields ranging from economics to oceanography and pathology. Visit the Environmental Studies website for more information.

Where have concentrators worked/studied in their first year after graduation?

What are concentrators doing 5 and 10 years after graduation?

Dept. Undergraduate Group

Student Leaders:

  • Bailey McLaughlin
  • Angelica Arellano

If you are an advisor and would like to make changes to the information on this page, contact focal_point@brown.edu, or email Dean Besenia Rodriguez.