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    American University
    Feb 29, 2024  
American University Catalog 2015-2016 
American University Catalog 2015-2016 [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Environmental Science

Chair Kiho Kim

Full-Time Faculty

Professor Emeritus D.C. Culver
Professor A.M. Cheh, K. Kim
Associate Professor S.E. MacAvoy
Assistant Professor K.L. Knee
Professorial Lecturer C. Pondell, A. van Doorn

Environment science has become a nexus of a broad range of global issues including climate change, biodiversity loss, pollution, and resource depletion. Environmental sustainability, which combines scientific, economic, and social considerations, provides a valuable framework for addressing these issues.

The goal of the Department of Environmental Science is to inspire and train leaders in sustainability. To that end, the program offers rigorous and interdisciplinary curricula that provides both the knowledge and critical thinking skills to make sound, rational decisions and to effectively engage in public discourse concerning current and emerging environmental issues.

The Department of Environmental Science offers six interdisciplinary programs of study: BA in Environmental Studies, BS in Environmental Science, minor in environmental science, MS in Environmental Science, MS in Professional Science, and Graduate Certificate in Environmental Assessment.

The BA in Environmental Studies begins with a set of foundational courses in both the natural and social sciences. The student then chooses from an approved list of related courses spanning disciplines, from across AU to create a course of study suited to his or her specific interests and professional goals. Students also gain practical experience through an internship at one of the many public and private environmental organizations in the Washington DC area or through research with faculty. Graduates are prepared for employment in a broad range of fields where scientific information is applied in the development and implementation of environmental policies and procedures.

The BS in Environmental Science draws principally from the natural sciences, including biology, chemistry, earth sciences, physics, mathematics, and statistics. In addition to classroom work, the program provides students with training in both field and laboratory techniques applicable to the study of the natural environment. Students are strongly encouraged to seek research experience with faculty and engage in the creation of new scientific knowledge. Opportunities to carry out research at one of the many research institutions in the Washington DC area are also available. Graduates are prepared for a broad range of opportunities, from serving as a scientist for public or private environmental organizations, to professional school in health, law, or engineering, to graduate school in either natural or social sciences.

A minor in environmental science is available for those interested in adding breadth to their natural science or social science degree. The minor prepares students for employment in environmental research, policy, or management, or for further graduate work in the natural or social sciences.

The MS in Environmental Science prepares students to analyze and develop responses to environmental problems. The program offers two tracks: course-based or research-based. Students in the course-based program take a core set of science and statistics courses and a selection of complementary courses in environmental policy. Additionally, students are encouraged to gain practical field experience through an internship at one or more of the many public and private environmental organizations in the Washington DC area. Students in the research-based program carry out thesis research projects with faculty in the department, associated and affiliated faculty at AU, or with researchers at one of the many research institutions in the Washington DC area. Graduates of either tracks are prepared to engage in high-level, environmental problem solving or pursue advanced studies in environmental science.

The Graduate Certificate in Environmental Assessment is a more focused program designed to provide students with advanced understanding of the environmental impacts of human activities, with both domestic and international scope. Graduates are prepared to characterize these impacts and develop strategies for mitigation or remediation.

Study Abroad

American University’s AU Abroad program offers study abroad programs in which students take courses, participate in internships, and interact with public officials and political leaders. Students wishing to use courses from study abroad programs to count as their capstone must obtain approval of the undergraduate advisor.


    MajorMinorMaster’s ProgramGraduate Certificate