Courses of Study 2021-2022 
    May 18, 2024  
Courses of Study 2021-2022 [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Environment & Sustainability

Environment & Sustainability Major

The Environment & Sustainability (E&S) major is available in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and the College of Arts and Sciences. The requirements for the major are the same in both colleges. E&S provides students with a basis for understanding the structure and functioning of the earth’s environment. How do we as humans value, use, benefit from, and protect the environment?  How can we do so sustainably?  Students take courses in environmental natural sciences, social sciences and humanities, examining how these disciplines can be applied to develop policies and cultural practices that maintain biodiversity, sustain food production, and develop renewable energy resources.

The E&S curriculum advances the ability of students to understand and address contemporary environmental issues. This goal requires an interdisciplinary and integrated undergraduate experience that provides both breadth and depth in understanding the causes and consequences of changing environments throughout the world. The curriculum relies upon a core foundation in biology, physical and social science, humanities, economics, and statistics, supplemented by coursework and experiences integrating these topics of study. In addition, the E&S curriculum provides flexibility to pursue greater depth in specific disciplines encompassing environment and sustainability issues, while taking advantage of Cornell’s diverse range of courses and opportunities.

All students complete a set of foundation courses (core curriculum) after which students tailor their upper-division courses by selecting one of six concentrations: Environmental Biology and Applied Ecology (EBAE), Environmental Economics (EE), Environmental Humanities (EH), Environmental Policy and Governance (EPG), Land, Air and Water Resources (LAWR), or a Student-Designed Concentration (SD).

Flexibility remains for students to study abroad, engage in research (including the E&S honors program) and pursue other opportunities offered by Cornell. Prospective students are encouraged to explore the learning outcomes, curriculum requirements, and career paths pursued by recent graduates.

Learning Outcomes

Students will be able to:

  1. Compare and contrast multiple perspectives on the sustainability of human-environment relationships, including implications for food, land, air, water, energy, climate, and biodiversity.
  2. Evaluate claims about sustainability using approaches and perspectives from the biophysical sciences, humanities and social sciences.
  3. Apply diverse scholarly approaches to critically evaluate information and build knowledge about how the environment influences human resource use.
  4. Work collaboratively and across disciplines to formulate approaches to environmental challenges that could help build sustainable human-ecological systems.
  5. Communicate and collaborate across disciplines, and demonstrate the capacity to enter the public dialogue regarding complex environmental issues using a variety of communication strategies.

Environment & Sustainability Curriculum Requirements


  • No prerequisite courses are necessary before declaring the E&S major.
  • Letter or S/U grade options will meet major requirements.
  • A grade of D- or better must be earned to meet major requirements.
  • Core requirements minimum is 29 credits.
  • Concentration requirements minimum is 21 credits.

In addition to the major requirements outlined below, all students must meet their college graduation requirements:


Choose one course:


Choose one course:


Choose one course:


7-10 additional courses.

Students declare their concentration by the end of their sophomore year. See E&S website for concentration descriptions.

Concentrations (Acronyms)

Environmental Biology and Applied Ecology (EBAE)

Environmental Economics (EE)

Environmental Humanities (EH)

Environmental Policy and Governance (EPG)

Land, Air and Water Resources (LAWR)

Student-Designed Concentration (SD)

Environment & Sustainability Minor

Students enrolled in any major may pursue a minor in Environment & Sustainability (E&S). Students will customize a course of study (minimum 13 credits) that will allow them to develop a basic knowledge of the environmental sciences and humanities. The minor allows students with a wide diversity of interests to gain confidence in their understanding of sustainability, as well as the complex interactions and interdependencies that characterize ecosystems and relationships between society and environment. Building literacy and comprehension across key disciplines is a fundamental step toward effective engagement with sustainability and can provide students with highly desirable skills for the job market. To learn more, visit the E&S minor webpage.

General Requirements:

  • Five courses plus one colloquium (details below).
  • Any undergraduate student at Cornell may enroll in the minor (except E&S majors).
  • All courses except ENVS 2000  must be taken for a letter grade, and a grade of “C” or better must be recorded.
  • At least two courses must be at the 3000-level or higher.
  • AP credit will not be accepted.
  • Overlap of no more than two courses between the E&S minor and a student’s other major(s) and/or minors will be accepted.
  • No course substitutions are allowed with two exceptions: 1) external transfer students using one course from a prior institution, and 2) a course for the minor has a forbidden overlap with a course taken for a student’s major.

Course Requirements:

Environmental Biology (choose 1):

  1. BIOEE 1610  / BIOSM 1610  - Ecology & the Environment (F, S, Su)
  2. Any course from EBAE Elective Lists

Environmental Physical Sciences (choose 1):

  1. EAS 1600 - Environmental Physics  (F-online, S-lecture)
  2. Any course from LAWR Elective Lists

Environment & Sustainability Colloquium (choose 1):

  1. ENVS 2000  / ENVS 2010  - Environment and Sustainability Colloquium (F)
  2. BEE 2000  / BEE 2010  - Perspectives on the Climate Change Challenge (S)