The Environmental Studies program provides an interdisciplinary understanding of such increasingly serious issues as environmental pollution, wildlife and habitat preservation and conservation, sustainable land use, threats to biodiversity, resource depletion, energy conservation, and global climate change as they are influenced by the interactions of humans and the natural environment.
The program offers Bachelor of Science and Bachelor of Arts degrees (majors) as well as a minor in environmental studies. The major is designed to provide students with an understanding of environmental issues in their political, social, economic, ethical, and scientific contexts. The strength of the curriculum is in its breadth and integrative nature, which ensures that students understand and address environmental problems from an interdisciplinary perspective.
Environmental Studies students find employment in research, analysis, and enforcement activities in local, state, and federal governments as well as in the private for-profit and non-profit sectors. Some of our graduates have created their own careers in areas such as organic farming, managing cooperatives, and social action. Environmental Studies students also go on to professional and graduate schools in law, ecology, engineering, journalism, economics, public health, political science, public administration, special education, and environmental policy.
The Environmental Studies Program at California State University, Sacramento, arose at a time when concern was peaking with the deterioration of the natural environment. Rachel Carson had released her book Silent Spring, which highlighted the hazards of the pesticide DDT and questioned humanity's faith in technological progress. Carson's book influenced social change and served as the foundation for the contemporary environmental movement. Americans began to recognize problems with air pollution, water pollution, soil erosion, deforestation, and resource limitations. Concurrently, many academicians found that their programs were too specialized to study and understand complex environmental problems. As a result, faculty and students began to explore approaches to curricula that could address the interdisciplinary nature of environmental problems.
A group of faculty members at California State University, Sacramento, took on the task of creating a curriculum to study environmental problems. Professors in Bioscience, Engineering, Physics, Sociology, and other programs created an interdisciplinary major by drawing on existing courses throughout the university. The Director of the new Environmental Studies Program was Dr. Wes Jackson, a young geneticist who had published the first text widely used in courses on environmental problems. In 1971-72, Dr. Jackson was joined by Professor Charles Washburn (Mechanical Engineering), Dr. Angus Wright, a Latin American Historian, and Dr. Valerie Anderson, a biologist and human ecologist, to round out the program. A formal Environmental Studies Department, located in the College of Social Sciences and Interdisciplinary Studies, was created in 1990 and today houses 10 full- and part-time faculty and over 180 undergraduate majors.
The Environmental Studies Department is located in Amador Hall on the west side of campus near the University Library. The department office is in room 554A and faculty offices are on the fifth floor.