Environmental and Sustainability Studies Major


Make sense of important issues facing the environment and society. Learn how to solve real-world problems and create a future that is more sustainable.

Are you passionate about sustainability and the environment? Do you want to learn how to make the world a better place, both for people and for other living things? In Environmental and Sustainability Studies, you'll gain the ability to understand the issues and the skills to make a difference. Some graduates go on to careers in environmental science. Others work in fields like environmental policy and law, sustainable business, and more.

Why study environmental and sustainability studies at the College of Charleston?

This program will help you make sense of important issues that confront the future of society. Understanding this will give you an edge in the professional world or graduate school. By combining courses in the natural sciences with those in the social sciences and the humanities — as well as studies in economics, art history and math — this program offers an appreciation for environmental issues on a local, national and international scale. 

Charleston is an ideal place to learn about sustainability and the environment. Our courses use the local area for case studies and field trips. And you can put your learning into action with an internship or undergraduate research. From the lab and field to non-profits and local businesses, you will find many ways to get involved. With hands-on learning in our program, you can gain the experience you need to launch your career.

What will I learn?

This is an interdisciplinary study of how our understanding of the political, social, cultural and economic activities relate to the physical world. Find innovative solutions to today's biggest sustainability challenges. 

Environmental and Sustainability Studies, B.A.
This degree type emphasizes training in the social sciences, humanities and business and economics. The B.A. is ideal for students who want to pursue socially-oriented careers or advanced study in policy or law. 

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Environmental and Sustainability Studies, B.S.
This degree type includes in-depth training in the natural sciences. This program is designed for students who want to pursue science-based careers or graduate study in environmental science and management. 

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Program Highlights


This is the only environmental and sustainability studies major in South Carolina! You will have access to opportunities in the lab and in the field. You'll take interdisciplinary coursework that teaches you to think broadly, creatively and strategically. Both the Bachelor of Arts degree and the Bachelor of Science degree allow you to tailor the program to meet your specific goals.
  • Hands-On Learning

    Hands-on learning is a key part of the Environmental and Sustainability Studies program. Many of our students participate in research with faculty, internships in the community, or study abroad. Our students also benefit from a variety of courses that include hands-on laboratories, field experiences, and community-engaged learning.

    Research

    The program offers opportunities for hands-on research that are potentially unlimited. Projects our students have done include:

    • studying microplastic pollution in Charleston Harbor
    • investigating climate change and environmental justice in Charleston
    • researching the relationship between urban parks and health and well-being
    • testing the effects of a warmer climate on marine organisms
       

    Internship Opportunities

    In this program, internships are key. Recently, our students have completed internship projects including:

    • advocating for a local bike lane
    • surveying water quality in local waterways
    • promoting sustainability efforts within a large corporation
    • working with a national conservation organization
    • developing lessons on gardening for local schoolchildren

     We have connections with community and campus organizations including:

    • South Carolina Department of Natural Resources.
    • The Nature Conservancy.
    • Coastal Conservation League.
    • Charleston Waterkeeper.
    • Surfrider.
    • Fresh Future Farm.
    • Citizens Climate Lobby.
    • Center for Sustainable Development.
    • Sustainable Agriculture program. 
  • Faculty Expertise

    The committed faculty who teach in our 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.

  • Location

    The growing, historic, coastal city of Charleston provides a living laboratory for environmental and sustainability issues, from sea level rise to environmental justice to corporate sustainability.

    Check out College of Charleston's rural campus, just a few miles outside of Charleston, at Stono Preserve. Stono Preserve is a 981-acre property that is perfect for environmental and sustainability research and courses.

    Take a course or conduct research at the College's Marine Laboratory, located right on Charleston Harbor. The Marine Laboratory provides access to coastal and marine environments for courses and research.

Careers & Outcomes


Alumni find employment in a wide variety of fields, where their training in both science and policy serves them well. Our alumni are employed in fields including:

  • ecological restoration.
  • renewable energy development.
  • agricultural biotechnology.
  • energy efficient building.
  • environmental law.

Our alumni work at both large and small companies as well as with nonprofits. 

  • Conservation International
  • The Nature Conservancy
  • U.S. Geological Survey
  • S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control
  • Various municipalities and higher education institutions

About the Minor


This interdisciplinary minor trains students to think broadly about environmental and sustainability issues. You'll be asked to consider issues from scientific, social and economic perspectives. Grapple with complex problems and engage with a diversity of viewpoints. This is a great add-on to any major program of study.