Environmental Studies program

mUndergrad minor

Are you passionate about the connections between humans and nature?

With an increased focus on environmental issues such as climate change, clean water and sustainable agriculture, an education in environmental studies will prepare you to help solve challenges globally and in your own backyard.

With a minor in environmental studies at UW-La Crosse, you will also join a growing number of students who have the goal of improving their environmental literacy. You'll have the opportunity to connect ideas from multiple disciplines and use them to solve environmental problems. Environmental Studies is an interdisciplinary minor at UWL, meaning students with any major can add the minor.

What is Environmental Studies?

Environmental Studies is an interdisciplinary field that aims to understand human-environment relationships and address complex issues and problems related to this relationship. It draws upon diverse disciplines including natural sciences, social sciences, arts and humanities, allowing students to analyze human-environment relationships with the breadth and depth that other fields alone do not have. 

Rather than merely specializing in one particular field, this program allows students to understand and critically think in a broader and more holistic manner, which is something that isn’t just useful, but incredibly enjoyable as we’re not limited to one lens or area of study.

Jake Fischer

Environmental Studies jobs

The environmental studies minor provides supplemental training for a variety of fields where environmental literacy is critical.

Example professions that benefit

  • Teachers with an interest in environmental education
  • Recreation professionals with an interest in outdoor education and adventure programming
  • Social scientists with an interest in environmental action
  • Biologists or chemists with a desire for a broader view
  • Business professionals with an interest in environmental compliance
  • Philosophers with an interest in environmental ethics
  • Geographers with an interest in humankind’s relationship with the natural world
  • Communicators with an interest in nature writing and conservation journalism

Further education, careers

  • Natural resource management
  • Green businesses
  • Outdoor recreation
  • Non-profit leadership
  • Environmental education

What distinguishes UWL's program?

Experiential learning

The program is recognized for its commitment to experiential and place-based learning that includes guest speakers and field trips where students can examine local and regional practices related to the environment. Field trips include visits to places such as a wastewater treatment plants, landfills, community gardens, the U.S. Geological Survey in La Crosse, and the La Crosse River Marsh.

Internship opportunities

Students have opportunities to earn credit while gaining work experience with an agency or organization that deals with environmental issues or problems from an interdisciplinary perspective. Examples of sites include governmental agencies, advocacy groups, environmental education centers, alternative technologies companies, and environmental compliance divisions of corporations.

Multiple and diverse community partnerships

Students have the opportunity to collaborate with community partners to understand how concepts from class are put to use in the real world. Recent examples of partnerships include working on sustainability initiatives with the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration, prairie mapping with Friends of the Blufflands, energy monitoring with the School District of La Crosse and environmental education with WisCorps.

Join a growing field

Environmental Studies at UWL has seen a roughly 50 percent increase in enrollment over the past five years. Adding the minor is intriguing to students from diverse disciplines as environmental issues are a growing concern globally and they impact nearly every industry. 

Interdisciplinary courses lead to deeper understanding of complex issues

Environmental Studies courses come from UWL departments in the natural sciences, the social sciences and the arts and humanities. They are taught in a way that helps students make connections between each other, between ideas, and between them and the community. This structure helps students develop a multi-disciplinary approach to solving complex issues and problems.

Coursework moves students from awareness to action

The curriculum includes a four-course series that moves students from a basic understanding of environmental topics to a senior-level course in environmental action. Students can also choose from a wide range of class options to complete their studies, addressing environmental topics in the natural sciences, social sciences, and the arts and humanities.

Faculty have diverse expertise

The core environmental studies courses are taught by instructors with a wide range of expertise, while courses from other departments are taught by faculty members with expertise in the environmental aspect of their respective discipline.

Part of a university-wide effort to enhance environmental awareness

The environmental studies minor is part of a campus-wide effort to enhance environmental awareness at UWL. The minor is intended to help undergraduate students integrate equity and complexity in approaching environmental issues; differentiate multidisciplinary approaches to environmental issues; and reflect critically about their roles as citizens, consumers, and participants in an interconnected world.

Sample courses