The major in Environmental Policy and Planning, offered by the Department of Public and Environmental Affairs, is an environmental studies program based in the social sciences.
It is designed to prepare students for a variety of challenging professions involving the planning, analysis, design, and administration of policies and programs dealing with the natural and human-made environment. This interdisciplinary major is also suitable preparation for further study in a wide range of graduate programs, including environmental studies, public policy, public administration, law, urban and regional planning, and related fields. Through this major, students develop knowledge and skills in planning and decision making, public policy, political and economic systems, and the environmental sciences, and acquire the analytic capacities for participation in those processes which will shape environmental quality in the future.
Internships, special topics courses, and/or applied research projects are available for every student. Internships are especially encouraged. These are generally short-term positions with local governments or agencies (usually non-paid) where students carry out projects related to their academic interests and skills. In addition to obtaining valuable experience, students enhance their opportunities for future employment and graduate school.
Graduates work in public, private and nonprofit organizations. For example, students have found employment with environmental groups, in local government and in environmental compliance departments of large companies. Information about careers can be found on the Internet, or in career guides. Other material about careers can be reviewed in the University's Career Services in Student Services 1600. That office also can assist you in exploring career opportunities and in preparing a resume.
If you are interested in pursuing an Environmental Policy and Planning major or minor, contact the program adviser or the chair of Public and Environmental Affairs to discuss programs of study that are available. They can advise you on the best order in which to take courses, the most suitable way to prepare for specific courses, and help you succeed in the program. You should also consider talking with students in the program, or accessing the newsletter on the department’s website. You might also want to examine the PEA department home page for information about internships, course syllabi, faculty, and other pertinent topics.
The faculty members in Public and Environmental Affairs have given much thought to what we expect our majors in Environmental Policy and Planning to learn to serve them well in their future careers. We are including a copy of those “learning outcomes” here so that you know in general what our expectations are. Each of the learning outcomes below indicates which courses in the curriculum are particularly appropriate for that objective.
As part of our annual effort to assess how well our majors are doing in meeting these expectations, we will evaluate at least one written assignment in each of our core courses using these criteria. We will also send a questionnaire to graduating senior majors to ask them how well they believe the program helped them to meet the same objectives.
- Exhibit an understanding and ability to implement sustainability as an engaged citizen (PU EN AF 102, 323, 324)
- Demonstrate basic knowledge of environmental science and selected other areas of natural science (ENV SCI-102 and both lower- and upper-level environmental science, biology, geography, and geology courses).
- Express knowledge of the concepts, principles, and theories of environmental policy, law, and planning (PU EN AF-202, 408, 301, 322, 350, and 378).
- Engage in ethical decision making and critical thinking in environmental policy and planning (PU EN AF 430).
- Communicate clearly and effectively about environmental policy and planning (all courses).
- Use technical skills in environmental policy and planning (PU EN AF-301, 378, 322, and other upper-level courses).
- Qualify for graduate work in schools of environmental studies, public policy, public affairs, planning, or related fields, or to qualify for entry-level professional employment in environmental policy and planning (all courses).