Feb 29, 2024  
2023-2024 Undergraduate Catalog 
    
2023-2024 Undergraduate Catalog

Environmental Studies (B.A. or B.S.)


The student learning outcomes for this degree are located at http://www.niu.edu/assessment/clearinghouse/outcomes/index.shtml.

Check departmental information for any additional requirements.

Requirements in Environmental Studies (22)


Requirements outside Environmental Studies (B.A., 9-22; B.S., 16-20)


For the B.A. degree


Fulfillment of foreign language requirement (0-12)
(See “Foreign Language Requirement for the B.A. Degree.”)

Emphasis 1. Biodiversity and Environmental Restoration (33-40)


The diversity of life on earth (Biodiversity) represents a resource of unknown potential for improving human welfare that is increasingly put at risk by human activities. Perhaps the most significant challenge of the 21st century is to resolve how to best utilize this resource while providing effective stewardship such that biodiversity resources are maintained for future generations. Meeting this challenge requires a detailed understanding of the processes that promote, maintain, and diminish biodiversity at all levels of biological organization, from molecules to ecosystems, a theme that unites the many subdisciplines within biology. Organisms are intimately connected to their environments and environments vary on multiple spatial and temporal scales. Hence, utilization and stewardship of biodiversity requires understanding its connection to both natural and human-induced environmental change. This emphasis is offered for the B.S. only.

Requirements outside Environmental Studies (11-12)


Select one of the following humanities and social sciences courses (3)


Natural and physical science electives (19-25)


Students must select six electives. At least one of the courses must contain an additional credit for a lab-based component.

Emphasis 2. Sustainability and Energy Studies (31-32)


This emphasis combines courses in the colleges of Liberal Arts and Sciences and Engineering and Engineering Technology and will introduce students to the world of sustainable systems and operations. The focus of the emphasis includes, but is not limited to, green concepts in power production, processing, manufacturing, ecologically friendly materials, and transportation. Students will also take courses on the humanities and social sciences to better understand the role that energy plays in society.

Requirements outside Environmental Studies (13)


Select two of the following sustainable technology/engineering-based courses (6-7)


Select three of the following management and policy courses (9)


Select one of the following humanities and social sciences courses (3)


Emphasis 3. Environmental Justice (30-32)


Humans do not experience environmental benefits and risks uniformly. Climate change, pollution, habitat loss, and other environmental challenges impact some social groups more gravely than others. This emphasis helps students explore the causes and consequences of environmental inequities in the U.S. and around the world, as well as efforts to establish environmental justice, the sharing of environmental costs and benefits more equitably. Through courses in the emphasis, students will learn methods of historical and cross-cultural comparison to critically assess environmental challenges; examine multiple lines of environmental injustice, such as race, gender, and economic status; and compare and contrast interventions rooted in social movements, conflict mediation, governmental and non-governmental efforts. To prepare students for careers advocating for environmental justice, the emphasis includes a strong focus on environmental communication.

Requirements outside Environmental Studies (18)


Select two of the following courses focused on environmental impacts on people (6)


Select one of the following social studies courses (3)


Select one of the following policy and intervention courses (3)


Select two of the following communication and writing courses (6)


Electives (12-14)


Students must select at least four of the following electives. These courses must be different from the courses selected for the Requirements outside Environmental Studies section.

Select one of the following social science courses (3)

Select one of the following humanities courses (3)

Select at least one of the following science, engineering, and technology courses (3-8)

Emphasis 4. Environmental Policy and Law (30-31)


This emphasis is designed to give students an understanding of how politics and law contribute to contemporary environmental problems and how policies can bring about sustainable solutions. Focus on how social structures impact environmental issues, how and why governments respond, the structure of environmental laws, and how policy change can be achieved. Students are exposed to: a broad range of perspectives from political science to economics, anthropology and the law; the role of grassroots, regional, and national nonprofit organizations to advocate for policy change; and examine environmental issues at the individual, local, national, and global levels. The resulting understanding of how complex natural and social systems interact as well as how to assess and advocate for solutions prepares students for long-term career success in a variety of environment and policy-oriented fields.

Requirements outside Environmental Studies (9)


Select one of the following policy/law courses (3)


Select one of the following social sciences courses (3)


Select one of the following humanities courses (3)


Electives (21-22)


These courses must be different from the courses selected for the Requirements outside Environmental Studies section.

Select two of the following policy courses (6)

Select two of the following communication and writing courses (6)

Select two of the following law-based courses (6)

Select one of the following science, engineering, and technology courses (3-4)

Emphasis 5. Sustainable Food Systems (30-31)


The emphasis in Sustainable Food Systems will consist of courses that provide engaged learning opportunities and enable practical application of knowledge. The interdisciplinary nature of the emphasis prepares students to understand and engage in finding solutions for the variety of issues they might face working in sustainable food systems. Both this knowledge and the associated experiences will provide the student with a solid foundation for work in sustainable food and farming.

The emphasis will prepare students in multiple areas of study that are all meant to provide them with an understanding of sustainable food systems: 1) Agriculture and Food - learn and experience essential drivers of agriculture and food systems; 2) Entrepreneurship and Economics - explore the underlying business and financial systems that contribute to these systems; 3) Urban, Community, and Policy - analyze and understand the political landscape in local and metropolitan communities; 4) Plant and Water Sciences - study and recognize the physical systems that impact agriculture and sustainable food options; 5) Health and Nutrition - examine agriculture practices, the food industry, and consumer behavior to see how they relate to food sustainability, nutritional health and wellness; and 6) Social and Cultural Change - obtain insights and expertise in how communities could address the social and cultural changes needed to achieve more sustainable food systems.

Select four of the following courses (12)


These courses must be different from the courses selected for the Requirements outside Environmental Studies section

Select two of the following Entrepreneurship and Economics courses (6)


Select one of the following Plant and Water Sciences courses (3-4)


Select two of the following Health and Nutrition courses (6)


Select one of the following Social and Cultural Change courses (3)


Emphasis 6. Educator Licensure - Environmental Science (95-97)


Students must complete a program of study approved by the director of the Environmental Science licensure program designed to provide a broad background in the discipline and meet the requirements for an undergraduate major in Environmental Sciences at NIU.  Students pursuing secondary science educator licensure in environmental science must have a grade of C or better in all course work specifically required for licensure. This includes all environmental science, biology, chemistry, physics, and math courses, pedagogy, and written communication, oral communication, and psychology general education classes.

Admission and Retention Requirements


Candidates must submit an application in writing to the director of the Environmental Science licensure program.

Undergraduates must have a GPA of 2.50 in all work at NIU. Candidates must also have a minimum combined GPA of 2.70 in NIU courses numbered 200 and above in physical and biological sciences and mathematics.

All potential certification candidates must have a satisfactory review of progress with the departmental licensure advisor each semester after admission to the certification program. The candidate must also:

  • take and pass the ICTS Environmental Science Content Test prior to applying to student teaching.
  • take and pass the ICTS Assessment of Professional Teaching test before completion of the program.

Environmental Science Educator Licensure


All retention requirements listed above.

Five upper-division courses in environmental science (15)


Electives in designated courses teaching environmental science concepts (12-14)


Professional education courses, including (36)


Total Hours for a Major in Environmental Studies: 61-75 (B.A); or 68-82 (B.S.)