Environmental Science and Sustainability

Environmental science and sustainability courses address the challenge of balancing short-term human needs with the long-term health of environmental systems. Topics include conservation, environmental policy, agriculture, sustainability, pollution, and climate change.

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    Frequently Asked Questions about Environmental Science and Sustainability

  • Environmental science is the study of how the various physical, biological, chemical, and meteorological factors interact within a given environment, as well as how these factors impact the organisms living within it - including human beings. It can be easy to forget in our increasingly modern, technology-mediated world, but balancing human needs with the preservation of a sustainable natural environment is incredibly important to our health, our psychological well-being, and the day-to-day functioning of the global economy.

    On a local scale, having clean air to breathe and water to drink is something we take for granted, but the safety of these essential resources can be threatened by particulate emissions from factories and diesel trucks, as well as toxic pollution from chemical plants. And on a planetary scale, the extreme weather and natural disasters caused by global warming threaten to upend many of the agricultural and livestock systems we depend on for food, as well as coastal real estate markets that are valued at $1 trillion in the United States alone.

    Because environmental science connects the dots between the myriad human and natural factors interacting in the environment, it is an interdisciplinary subject that can be studied from many different angles. Experts from the physical sciences such as biology and chemistry offer essential knowledge of the ways in which different pollutants affect human and animal health. At the same time, the background of social scientists such as anthropologists and economists can provide critical inputs into how various human systems respond to environmental pressures, as well as how these systems can contribute to environmental sustainability.

    Environmental science is also obviously important if your primary concern is the non-human world. By providing guidance on how to preserve the proper functioning of natural ecosystems, it helps to ensure sustainable habitats for the biodiverse flora and fauna of our world. Thus, environmental science is a vital field of study whether you want to protect the natural environment from being damaged by human activities or protect the human world from risks in the environment.