Institute at Brown for Environment and SocietyIBES



A.B. in Environmental Studies: 14 courses
Sc.B. in Environmental Science: 19 courses


CORE – 4 courses

The core provides students with the breadth needed to understand the multi-faceted nature of environmental challenges, as well as a common basis of understanding needed for collaboration across environmental fields.

ECON 0110 - Introduction to Economics (prerequisite for many courses in certain tracks) OR HIST 0150A - History of Capitalism
ENVS 0490 - Environmental Science in a Changing World
ENVS 0110 - Humans, Nature, and the Environment
BIOL 0210 - Diversity of Life OR GEOL 0240 - Earth: Evolution of a Habitable Planet

TRACKS – 5 courses for the A.B., 10 courses for the Sc.B.

Students select one of five tracks. Each track provides students with the focused course of study needed to deeply engage within a discipline or area of study. Courses meeting the requirements for the categories listed in the table below are available for each of the tracks: Air, Climate and Energy (ACE), Conservation Science and Policy (CSP), Environment and Inequality (ENI), Land, Water and Food Security (LWF) and Sustainability in Development (SID).

Air, Climate & Energy   Conservation Science & Policy   Environment and Inequality    Land, Water & Food Security Sustainability in Development
(A.B. course categories)   (A.B. course categories)   (A.B. course categories)   (A.B. course categories) (A.B. course categories)
Select 2: Foundational Select 1: Ecology Take 1:  Equity & the Env. Course Select 1: Climate Select 2: Env. & Development
Select 1: Climate Select 1: Conservation Select 1: Race, Class, & Gender Inequality Select 1: Biology Select 2: Policy
Select 1: Energy Tech & Infrastructure Select 1: Ecology & Cons. Topics Select 1: Env. & Inequality Select 1: Env. History Select 1: Analysis Tools
Select 1: Policy Select 1: Policy Select 1: Tools Select 1: Policy  

Select 1: Statistics Select 1: Policy & Politics Select 1: Tools  
(Sc.B. also requires)   (Sc.B. also requires)   (Sc.B. also requires)   (Sc.B. also requires) (Sc.B. also requires)
Select 1: Math Select 1: Math Select 1: Tools Select 1: Math Select 1: Sociology & Politics
Select 1: Policy Select 1: Evolution Select 1: Race, Class, & Gender Inequality Select 1: Chemistry Select 1: Critical Perspectives
Select 1: Tools Select 1: Organismal Diversity Select a focus area, &
pick 3 courses from it: 
Select 3: Earth/Life Systems Select 2: Econ. Perspectives
Select 2: Climate & Thermal/Chem Select 1: Env. Economics
  • Env. Ineq. in Globaliz. & Dev.
   Select 1: Climate
Select 1: Tools  
  • Env. Health & Inequality
  • Env. Ineq. in Food, Water, & Energy 

RESEARCH METHODS – 1 course, ENVS 1920 (Methods for Interdisciplinary Environmental Research)

This course provides the skills needed to tease out specific questions from complex, multifaceted environmental problems and to develop independent research proposals that can meet these challenges. These skills are critical for success in academics, the non-profit sector, government and industry.


These electives provide increased environmental expertise and further enhance a student’s ability to customize a course of study. Acceptable electives include any ENVS courses, classes with significant environmental content, and prerequisites for classes students take to fulfill requirements within their declared track.

CAPSTONE REQUIREMENT – 1 course minimum

The capstone is designed to provide an opportunity for students to integrate many aspects of their course of study, while introducing the opportunity to conduct independent or collaborative work oriented towards the discovery of new information and/or solving environmental challenges. This requirement can be met with a two-semester thesis (ENVS 1970 & ENVS 1971), one-semester research project (ENVS 1970 or ENVS 1971), or an approved capstone course. More information on each of these options is available on the Capstone Requirement web page.


Students can meet listed core or track requirements, as follows:

  • AP exam score of 4 or 5 in both Microeconomics and Macroeconomics in place of ECON 0110
  • AP exam score of 5 in Environmental Science in place of ENVS 0490
  • AP exam score of 4 or 5 on Calc AB in place of Math 0090; AP exam score of 4 or 5 on Calc BC in place of Math 0090 & 0100

Note, however, that AP exams cannot be used to meet any of the three electives required for the concentration.


ENVS 1970 (fall) and 1971 (spring) are independent study courses designated for academic credit sponsored by IBES Faculty. One or both of these courses are often taken as part of the process of fulfilling the capstone requirement, but they need not be used exclusively for that purpose. Students taking these courses to meet capstone requirements should follow the process described for Capstones. Students not taking these courses to meet the ENVS capstone requirement should complete the following steps: 1) meet with the faculty sponsor and agree on the project's design and scope, 2) complete the Project Proposal Form, and 3) register for the course after receiving an override code from the faculty sponsor. It is the joint responsibility of the student-faculty pair to ensure that the student is intellectually involved in an original research project or course of study with expectations appropriate to their level of education and experience. Faculty should agree to be an independent study course sponsor if able to provide adequate mentoring and advising throughout the semester. ENVS 1970 and 1971 are formal courses and so students are expected to work a minimum of 180 hours on the project.

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