Environmental and Ocean Sciences Overview
Students entering the University of San Diego and/or declaring a major during 2016-2017, should follow information contained in the printed course catalog (also known as the "catalog of record") published on October 1, 2016. Access the catalog of record at http://catalogs.sandiego.edu.
The environmental and ocean sciences major, offered by the Department of Environmental and Ocean Sciences, is intended for students interested in the natural world, with three distinct pathways that focus on marine ecology, environmental sciences or environmental studies. All pathways are designed with an interdisciplinary approach, either within the natural sciences (marine ecology and environmental science pathways) or across the natural sciences, social sciences and humanities (environmental studies pathway). The curriculum trains students to apply the scientific method to study critical environmental issues while promoting ethical judgment and behavior as it relates to the scientific process, environmental awareness, and the role humans play within the dynamic earth system. The environmental and ocean sciences major offers students intellectually challenging conceptual training coupled with practical hands-on experience in the field and lab to prepare them for graduate school and diverse environmental career opportunities.
The environmental and ocean sciences major offers a common preparatory curriculum for all three pathways, designed to prepare students for both the core upper division environmental science classes and the suite of electives they will take as part of the major. Several of the courses in the preparation for the major satisfy core curriculum requirements. Following the common preparatory courses, all students take two gateway courses into the major: a) an in-depth analysis of contemporary environmental issues, and b) an introduction to field and research applications, in which students conduct interdisciplinary marine research in local ecosystems. During the junior and senior years, students take courses in one of three pathways and complete a capstone experience involving undergraduate research with faculty or experiential internships that culminate in a presentation of their findings. Faculty-student research collaborations may involve summer research programs, local or international field work, and the opportunity to participate in professional conferences or publications. In addition to research with faculty, certain courses offered through study abroad programs (such as the School for Field Studies or the Sea Education Association) may satisfy some requirements of the major, including the experiential portion of the capstone.
Depending on their interests and goals, environmental and ocean sciences majors choose one of three pathways: marine ecology (which includes a biology minor), environmental science, or environmental studies. Students are encouraged to select an advisor as soon as possible. A list of advisors is available from the chair of the Department of Environmental and Ocean Sciences.
The marine ecology and environmental science pathways provide students with a rigorous science-based curriculum that is intended to prepare them to go on to either graduate studies or directly into any area in the rapidly developing industries related to environmental issues facing the world today. The marine ecology pathway requires a biology minor, which provides additional breadth and depth in aspects of biology that complement the ecology and marine focus of the major. The environmental studies pathway is intended to provide students with a background in the natural sciences balanced by breadth in the social sciences and humanities. Students majoring in environmental studies will be well prepared to pursue graduate studies in environmental science, environmental policy, resource management, or law, or careers in a range of businesses and government agencies that deal with environmental assessment, planning, development and sustainability.