2020-2021 Undergraduate Academic Catalog 
    Sep 27, 2021  
2020-2021 Undergraduate Academic Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Environmental Studies, B.A.

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What kind of environmental ethic would you have if you lived with compassion for other humans? This is the question that Point Loma Nazarene University equips students to answer in its Environmental Studies program. Jesus tells us that the two commandments which encompass all others are love God and love your neighbor (Matthew 22:37-39). Yet we often miss the connection that loving God and neighbor has with the natural world. Cultural geographer Carolyn Finney claims it is necessary for humans to “understand how our unhealthy relationships with the natural environment are intimately linked to our unhealthy relationships with each other.” PLNU’s Environmental Studies program makes that link by providing cultural context along with foundational scientific knowledge. Our goal is that students leave the program with compassion for all of creation and other humans, created by listening to and understanding the context of the human story across cultures; with foundational knowledge of ecosystems and the human relationship to them; with communication skills in writing, media, and verbal avenues; and with the agency to use these traits to serve in the world.

Students with an Environmental Studies BA find careers in diverse fields that address human relationships with the natural world. From public relations and fundraising to design and engineering, Environmental Studies majors find jobs that rely on compassion, knowledge, and the ability to communicate well. Situated as a truly interdisciplinary major at PLNU with contributions across diverse disciplines, the focus of the program is to provide the cultural context, scientific foundation, and communication skills as they relate to humans and the environment. Different from many environmental sciences and other environmental studies programs, PLNU’s Environmental Studies program prepares students for multiple career paths by offering foundational courses in biology, the social and political sciences, and the arts and humanities, along with focused concentrations of study, ranging from creative writing or literature to media arts or public policy, which provide depth of expertise as well as breadth of perspective.

Environmental Studies at PLNU: we put the human element into the environment.

Program Learning Outcomes

Students who complete the program in Environmental Studies will be able to:

  1. Integrate scientific and humanistic environmental studies with ongoing reflection and community engagement.
  2. Employ strong research and analytical skills with diverse sources of information, demonstrating critical thinking and quantitative reasoning appropriately.
  3. Identify and articulate sociocultural dynamics as they relate to the natural world.
  4. Present analyses to formal audiences, demonstrating appropriate strategies for audience engagement and oral communication of written work.

Required Concentration

Choose one of the following concentrations:

  • Biology
  • Cultural Studies
  • Design
  • Social Impact
  • Writing and Communication



A strong background in the biology and chemistry of environmental systems empowers environmental justice with the ability to evaluate and use scientific data. With a concentration in biology, an Environmental Studies major can bring her biological expertise to educate and inform environmental social action. Careers include: sustainability officer, lab management, science writer.


Understanding where our current ideas about environmental and social justice come from is vital to having agency for positive change. Environmental Studies majors with a cultural studies concentration will be able to identify, critique, challenge, or champion cultural stories and themes about humanity’s relationship with the environment. Careers include: teaching, nonprofit management, public relations.


Good design can capture the imagination and bring about powerful change. With a concentration in design, Environmental Studies majors gain valuable skills in presenting information and arguments in a visually pleasing format to reach a wide audience for environmental change. Careers include: graphic design, science illustration, biodesign, branding.


Social service impacts the way the world works. With a social impact concentration, Environmental Studies majors will understand the structures and policies that govern our culture and find avenues of service that will let them be a powerful force for environmental change in the world. Careers include: law, urban planning, social work, public administration.


A clearly communicated idea has the most impact. With a writing and communication concentration, Environmental Studies majors will develop the skills to share their ideas and stories both in writing and verbally. Clear communicators can take the complexity of many environmental issues and present them so that a wide audience can understand. Careers include: editing, writing, screenwriting, journalism, branding.

Total: 107-111 Units

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