Environmental and Sustainability Studies Program

NEW: The College of Charleston now offers a major in Environmental and Sustainability Studies. Learn more!

Why is a healthy environment important for human well-being, and how can we ensure that the environment continues to provide for us? How and why is climate change impacting vulnerable communities, and what can be done to reduce these impacts? How do property rights affect economic policy, and how does economic policy impact environmental regulations? Does it matter how our food is grown, by whom, and with what inputs? These and other interrelated questions fall within the realm of environmental and sustainability studies — an interdisciplinary study of humans and the environment that enhances our understanding of how political, social, cultural and economic activities relate to the natural world, and in turn are impacted by the natural world.

At the College of Charleston, our environmental and sustainability studies program can help you make sense of important issues that confront the future of society, and that knowledge can give you an edge in the professional world or graduate school. By combining courses in the natural sciences (geology, physics, biology and chemistry) with those in the social sciences (anthropology, psychology, political science, sociology) and the humanities (religious studies, philosophy, women and gender studies, history) — and business (economics, entrepreneurship, management) — this program offers an appreciation for environmental and sustainability issues on a local, national and international scale. 

The committed faculty who teach in our environmental and sustainability studies program represent a cross section of expertise, spanning areas as diverse as conservation biology, natural disasters, water, pollution, cultural values about the environment, sustainable urban design, and the intersection of race, gender, class and environmental justice issues.

The program also offers a wide variety of opportunities for hands-on research with faculty. Projects our students have done include:

  • investigating the effects of coastal erosion on the wildlife habitat of nearby barrier islands.
  • undertaking energy audits of the College’s entire campus.
  • studying the ecological benefits of small-scale refinements in mass-transit systems.
  • undertaking ethnographic research with the Transition Town movement

In this program, internships are key. Recently, our students interned with:

  • the City of Charleston’s planning department (helping develop its 180-page sustainability plan).
  • an environmental engineering firm (learning the basic operations).
  • a local municipal water works (helping to assess water quality).
  • a local school garden project (helping with publicity and teaching elementary school children modules in the garden)

Contact Information

Allison Welch
Program Director

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