Program Overview

Come explore our unique location on the shores of coastal Maine. As an Environmental Studies major, you will explore the ocean, river, woodlands, wetlands, and vernal pools, as well as beach and dune habitats. Your opportunities for research and field work on campus are nearly limitless in our 540-acre natural wonderland. Off campus opportunities include internships and global experiences. Let nature be your classroom as you acquire the professional skills needed to make a real difference for the environment.

Image

Why UNE for Environmental Studies

From the red maples in the swamps of our 363-acre forest to the harbor seals on our privately-owned island, UNE is brimming with flora and fauna whose habitats serve as a living laboratory for your exploration.

  • Hands-on projects, field trips, research, and internships
  • First-year interdisciplinary Green Learning Community
  • Short-term faculty-led study abroad courses
  • Unique campus setting encompassing diverse habitats
  • Deep sense of community and collaboration
Testimonial Place Holder

If it wasn’t for my experience volunteering, interning at the Wells NERR... I don’t think I would have been such a competitive candidate for the (NOAA’s Ernest F. Hollings) scholarship

Environmental Studies

Academics

There are many ways you can navigate this degree program. We even have a 4+1 B.S./M.S. track that lets you complete your undergraduate and master’s degrees in just five years.

Examples of Available Courses

The following are just some examples of the exciting courses that the Environmental Studies major offers:

  • Sustainability and Ecological Restoration
  • Environmental Communication: Expert Practices for Ecosystem Management
  • Contemporary Nature Writing
  • Environmental Movements and Social Change
  • Environment, Health, and Community Development in East Africa
  • Climate Change Adaptation: Planning and Policy

Environmental Studies With Secondary Teaching Certification

If you are interested in becoming a middle school or high school science teacher, you may select the necessary courses in secondary education as electives, and complete the teaching internship required to qualify for State of Maine certification (grades 7-12) upon graduation.

Double Majors

As an Environmental Studies major, you may opt to double major in another discipline. This popular way to enhance your career-preparedness allows you to complete both degrees in four years and prepares you for the complexity of teal-world environmental challenges.

For more information including current double major requirements and course sequences, email envstudies@une.edu.

Popular Double Majors

Environmental Studies and Marine Affairs

This double major might be for you if your passions are the human, social and political aspects of natural resources and environmental challenges on both land and sea. This training prepares you for work in environmental policy and resource management, particularly at the land–sea interface.

Environmental Studies and Sociology

This double major might be for you if your passions are related to the societal impacts of, and responses to, environmental challenges. This training prepares you for environmental work in both public and private organizations, as well as for graduate school in environmental studies or a variety of social sciences.

Curriculum

Since 1991 the faculty of the College of Arts and Sciences has defined environmental awareness as a major theme in the College's Core Curriculum, and asked the Environmental Studies program to deliver the course Introduction to Environmental Issues to all undergraduates regardless of major. The UNE College of Arts and Sciences is one of the few in the nation that requires formal instruction in Environmental Studies as a requirement for graduation. 

CAS Core Requirements (includes 19 credits required by major) Credits
Total 42–46
Program Required Courses including Green Learning Community (First year) Credits
ENV 100 and 101 or ENV 104 - Introduction to Environmental Issues  3
BIO 105/105L - Biology I: Ecology/Evolution 4
BIO 106/106L - Biology II: Cellular/Molecular 4
LIT 121 and 122 or LIT 124 - Literature, Nature and the Environment  3
BUEC 104 and 105 or BUEC 106 - Economics in Context  3
CHE - Any college-level Chemistry course w/ Lab 4
MAT 151 - Statistics for Environmental Sciences  3
Total 24
Interdisciplinary Environmental Issues Courses (Second year) Credits
ENV 200 - Environment and Society: A Global Perspective 3
ENV 220 - Conservation and Preservation 3
ENV 220L - Conservation and Preservation Lab 2
ENV 240 - Environmental Sustainability Lab 2
ENV 250 - Environmental Policy in Comparative Perspective 3
BIO 350/350L - Ecology w/ Field Lab (third year) 4
Environmental Science Elective - After consulting with their academic advisors, Environmental Studies majors will choose 3-4 credit hours of an upper-division science course in Environmental Science or Biology, Marine Science, Chemistry, Physics, or Psychology. (This course should be taken during the third or fourth year.) 3–4
Total 20-21
Environmental Studies Distribution Requirements (Third and fourth year) Credits
See tables below; select one course from each of the 4 Distribution Groups in the list of Environmental Studies Distribution Requirements, and additional credits chosen from any of the groups to total 21 or more credits. 21–28
Internship, up to 12 credits of ENV 295 or ENV 495 may be arranged with special permission from the Academic Director 3-12
ENV 499 - Senior Capstone in Environmental Studies 3
Totals Credits
Open Elective Courses (needed to reach 120 credits) Variable 
Minimum Required Total Credits 120

Environmental Studies Distribution Requirements List

Group One: Conservation, Preservation, Restoration Credits
ENV 309 - Sustainability and Ecological Restoration 3
ENV 312/312L - Wetland Conservation and Ecology w/Field Lab 4
ENV 313/313L - Wetland Restoration: Science and Policy w/Field Lab 4
ENV 316/316L - Land Conservation Practicum w/Field Lab 4
ENV 397 - Topics in Environmental Studies (meets ADV ST requirement for non-majors only) 3
ENV 398 - Topics in Environmental Studies 3
ENV 399 - Topics in Environmental Studies w/Lab 4
Group Two: Environmental Policy and Management Credits
ENV 204 - Urban Forestry 3
ENV 321 - Environmental Communication: Expert Practices for Ecosystem Management 3
ENV 328 - Environmental Pollution: Ecosystems, Wildlife, and Human Health 3
ENV 357 - Sustaining Water: Social and Global Perspectives 3
ENV 362 - Climate Change Adaptation 3
ENV 397 - Topics in Environmental Studies (meets ADV ST requirement for non-majors only) 3
ENV 398 - Topics in Environmental Studies 3
ENV 399 - Topics in Environmental Studies with Lab 4
BUEC 390 - Environmental Economics (can also meet ADV ST requirement, but not both) 3
BUEC 395 - Ecological Economics 3
Group Three: Arts, Humanities, and Values Credits
ENV 331 - Women and the Environment 3
ENV 333/333L - The Nature Writers w/Field Lab 4
ENV 334 - Contemporary Nature Writing 3
ENV 334L - Contemporary Nature Writing Lab 1
ENV 338 - Environmental Topics in Popular Lyrics 3
ENV 397 - Topics in Environmental Studies (meets ADV ST requirement for non-majors only) 3
ENV 398 - Topics in Environmental Studies 3
ENV 399 - Topics in Environmental Studies with Lab 4
Group Four: Global Ecology and Social Justice Credits
ENV 340 - Environmental Movements and Social Change 3
ENV 341 - Indigenous Ecology, Conservation Biology, and the Politics of Knowledge 3
ENV 344 - Environmental Ethics 3
ENV 349 - Environment, Health, and Community Development in E. Africa 3
ENV 349L - Environment, Health, and Community Development in E. Africa Lab 1
ENV 376 - Caribbean Sustainable Development 3
ENV 397 - Topics in Environmental Studies (meets ADV ST requirement for non-majors only) 3
ENV 398 - Topics in Environmental Studies 3
ENV 399 - Topics in Environmental Studies with Lab 4

Students wishing to pursue teacher certification in Life Science can complete a double major with Environmental Science and Secondary Education or a major in Secondary Education and a concentration in Environmental Science. For more information, see the Secondary Education catalog page.

Students in this major can participate in the pre-health graduate school preparation tracks.

To learn more about the program visit the Academic Catalog.

Green Learning Community

The Green Learning Community (GLC) is an intentional community of professors and first-year students dedicated to studying human relations to the environment. The year-long experience integrates courses in biology, environmental issues, literature, and economics.

In classes, you will find the same topic presented from different perspectives. You learn about the environment in an atmosphere where your opinions are welcomed and valued by supportive professors who foster a sense of community.

Much of the learning you do through the GLC takes place outside the classroom. The community-building experiences begin early in the fall with a retreat to Bryant Pond where you explore your individual goals for learning while collaborating in outdoor activities like hiking, paddling, and working through a ropes course. Additional field trips throughout the year take you to places like the Wells National Estuarine Research Reserve, Wildlife Conservation Lands, and the Portland Trail System.

The small class sizes in the GLC allow you to receive individual attention and instruction that help develop your academic, research, and communication skills.

Restoring the American Chestnut Tree in Maine

University of New England Professor of Environmental Studies Thomas Klak, Ph.D., and his students, have joined the work to restore the iconic American chestnut tree — once one of the most important forest trees throughout North America, until the species was devastated by a blight.

Careers

With the knowledge you gain from your coursework, the critical thinking skills you develop through research, and the life skills you acquire from internships and close working relationships with faculty and peers, you will be well on your way to an exciting career in the environmental field.

Our graduates have pursued careers in many fascinating fields, including:

  • Environmental Advocacy
  • Air and Water Resource Management
  • Ecological Restoration
  • Education
  • Habitat Conservation
  • Park Management
  • Environmental Impact Assessment
  • Toxicology
  • Field Research
  • Environmental Law and Regulation

Career Advising

Whether you have a specific career goal in mind or a vague idea of the field that interests you, Career Advising is here to help you plan your next step.

Diverse Habitats

Within a short walk or drive from UNE's Biddeford Campus, you may explore a variety of unique habitats, including the University's 363 acres of contiguous forest. The State of Maine Natural Areas Program has labeled the land a "habitat of significant value" due to its high density of pocket swamps and vernal pools. The area contains both uplands and wetlands, and is home to many species, including wild turkeys, deer, coyotes, and moose.

Our Biddeford Campus is also your stepping stone to some of Northern New England’s most intriguing ecosystems.

Local Habitats

Image

Our campus offers the chance to explore the lush coast and rich woodlands of Southern Maine.

  • UNE Nature Trail is a campus trail system runs along the Saco River.
  • UNE's 363-acre forest is explored in many classes and is also great for mountain biking.
  • Basket and Stage Islands are accessible at low tide over the sand flats.
  • East Point Bird Sanctuary is owned by the Audubon Society and has views of Wood Island lighthouse.
  • Biddeford Pool is the largest tidal pool in Maine and is great for observing coastal wildlife.
  • The Saco Heath is a raised peatland (bog), home to the carnivorous pitcher plants (protected by the Maine Chapter of the Nature Conservancy).
  • Clifford Park is a 52-acre woodland preserve owned by the city of Biddeford and is great for mountain biking and cross-country skiing.

Regional Habitats

Image

These protected lands serve as ideal day trips from our campus.

  • Mount Agamenticus Conservation Region is 10,000 acres of bio-diverse undeveloped forest.
  • Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge is a national wildlife refuge that spans 50 miles of coastline between York and Cumberland counties.
  • The Wells National Estuarine Research Reserve expands our knowledge about coasts and estuaries with an emphasis on ensuring healthy salt marsh ecosystems.
  • White Mountain National Forest is 800,000 acres of federally managed forest and mountains in western Maine and New Hampshire. A 75-minute drive from campus.
  • Acadia National Park is comprised of a cluster of islands on the Maine coast. It is positioned within the broad transition zone between eastern deciduous and northern coniferous forests and hosts several species and plant communities at the edge of their geographic range. A 3.5-hour drive from campus.

Experiential Learning

Survey and monitor wetlands, teach public school children about recycling, or spend a weekend at an ecovillage. At UNE you don’t just learn environmental studies — you do environmental studies.

Research

Whether you’re studying the eastern gray squirrel in our own backyard or analyzing soil erosion in Kenya, there are many opportunities to join faculty in their research or to design your own research project. Examine rare species, explore threatened habitats, or investigate best practices in the stewardship of natural resources.

NYADEC

UNE's environmental studies program began formal collaborations with the Nyando District Centre for Environmental Conservation in 2010 through Dr. Richard Peterson’s study abroad course Environment, Health, and Community Development in East Africa.

Project Squirrel

Project Squirrel started with a simple question: "Is the squirrel I see outside my window everyday the same one?" This question has grown into an ecological research program conducted by students on UNE's Biddeford Campus.

Saco River Estuary

The Saco River estuary is the focus of a research project aimed at sustaining the health of the estuary. A team of researchers and undergraduate students is currently studying the ecology of the estuary as well as the policies, regulations, and economics that influence this portion of the river.

Saco Watershed Collaborative

The Saco Watershed Collaborative is dedicated to protecting the irreplaceable water resources and benefits of the Saco Watershed. The watershed system collects, filters, and stores water and includes the Saco River, which provides drinking water for approximately 250,000 residents across southern Maine. Led by UNE, in 2017 the collaborative conducted outreach field trips and meetings to demonstrate the types of stewardship occurring in the watershed. Thirty-one organizations participated to help build collective knowledge and develop an action plan to measure progress and guide the next chapters of Saco Watershed conservation.

For more information, view the Sustain the Saco website or email Emily Greene.

Internships

Local, national, and global internships enable you to put your classroom learning to work by building life skills, networking in the field, and exploring career options.

    For more information, contact the College of Arts and Sciences Internship Office Environmental Studies contact Cynthia Simon at (207) 602-2540 or csimon@une.edu.

    Center for Sustainable Communities

    The Center for Sustainable Communities is an internship and service-learning program that creates mutually beneficial partnerships between students and environmental organizations in the communities surrounding UNE's Biddeford Campus. Through hands-on involvement with local governments, nonprofit organizations, and community groups, you field-test academic learning in situations that help you "think globally, act locally." For more information email Dr. Christine Feurt

    Possible internship sites

    Local and Maine Internship Sites
    • Acadia Mountain Guides, Inc.
    • Augusta Water District
    • Baxter State Park
    • Biodiversity Research Institute
    • Black Rock Farm
    • Brook Trout Pond Survey Internship (GIS)
    • Camp Ketcha
    • Eastern Trail Alliance
    • LL Bean Outdoor Discovery
    • Wells National Estuarine Research Reserve
    • Maine Geological Survey (GIS)
    • Microbac Laboratory
    • Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge
    • Rippleffect
    • Sierra Club
    • The Center for Wildlife
    • Toxics Actions Center
    • Biddeford City Hall (GIS)
    • Wells Conservation Commission
    • Maine Audubon Center
    Out-of-State Internship Sites
    • Alaska Department of Fish and Game
    • AMC Volunteer (North County Trails)
    • Boston Museum of Science
    • Calder Summer Research Program
    • Echo Hill Outdoor School
    • Frank Corporation Environmental Services
    • Great Basin Institute
    • Great Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve (GIS)
    • Mission: Wolf
    • New England Board of Higher Education
    • New England Wildflower Society
    • Sandy Point Discovery Center
    • Student Conservation Association
    • Suncoast Seabird Sanctuary
    • U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
    International Internship Sites
    • Global Service Corps
    • Peace Corps
    • School for Field Studies

    Getting Goat Island Off the Grid

    Fieldwork

    Field Trips

    Many upper-level Environmental courses include a significant field component. Through our classes you might participate in any of the following:

    • Weekend visit at an ecovillage
    • Conferences, such as the International Society of Tropical Foresters/Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies Yearly Conference
    • Overnight camping trips to UNE’s 350+ acre property and to the White Mountains
    • Visits to the offices of land conservation nonprofit organizations
    • Wetland surveying and monitoring at local bogs, freshwater marshes, salt marshes, riparian areas, and red maple swamps
    • Service Learning Trips with Cultivating Community, a nonprofit in Portland, Maine working in urban agriculture, youth leadership training, and sustainability
    • Field trips to local incinerators (Eco Maine in Portland and MERC in Biddeford)
    • Field trips to local Community Supported Agriculture Farms
    • Field trips to the Biddeford Recycling Center
    • Service Learning trip to York County Shelter, Inc. in Alfred, Maine
    • Field Trips to Portland Trails and hiking along the Presumpscot River Trail in Portland
    • Field Trip to Liberty Farms to see a horse-logger operation in Saco, Maine
    • Field trip to the Maine Forest Service office in Alfred, Maine

    Field-Based Environmental Humanities

    Our Environmental Humanities field trips allow you to step outside the classroom to immerse yourself in natural and human-constructed environments that enhance your understanding through direct experience. 

    From your first semester, you explore the local natural landscape through different literary, historical, and philosophical lenses. For example, you might read Henry David Thoreau and then visit the Beaver Pond Trail, a local wildlife commons created and managed by a member of the faculty.

    In your study of environmental history, you read characteristic New England landscapes — forests, coastlines, and waterfront cities — to learn how past interactions between humans and nature give significance to the places we inhabit today. You explore how an understanding of the past informs current environmental issues.

    During these excursions, you: 

    • Explore the ocean surf and tide pools where the first Europeans wintered in North America.
    • Paddle the Saco River through the foothills of the White Mountains.
    • Bushwhack across a forest to reach Maine’s largest American Beech tree.
    • Canoe a glacial cirque lake closely resembling Walden Pond.
    • Tour by boat the historic canal system and walk the historic textile factory floor of Lowell National Historic Park to examine how 19th century industrialization affected river conditions and laborers’ lives.
    • Read the forested landscape, searching for remnants of historic agriculture and forestry practices, and converse with longtime residents to understand the forest past and inform current conservation.
    • Tour urban parks and green spaces, expanding your appreciation of these places by retracing past visions and debates over their development.
    • Walk the coastline and trails of a historic salt marsh farm to explore the historic importance of past resource management decisions on coastal ecosystems and communities.

    Global Opportunities

    Aside from UNE's opportunities to spend a semester abroad, you find two travel courses — a fall semester course in Dominica and a spring semester course in Kenya. To enroll in these courses, you must submit an application to the Global Education Program. You are encouraged to apply for a Global Education scholarship when applying to these courses.

    Kenya

    ENV 348: Adv. Environment, Health, and Community Dev. in East Africa

    Dr. Richard Peterson

    This is a Spring semester course offered every other year with a two- to three-week field experience trip to Kenya in late May/June. Semester studies focus on environmental, health, and community development issues facing the country today, set within East Africa’s political, cultural, and historical contexts. The trip features visits to leading universities, museums, and national parks, an overland journey from Nairobi to Kisumu through the Great Rift Valley, home-stays with Kenyan families, hiking in the Kakamega Rainforest, hands-on experience working with local partner organizations, and working with community-based conservation researchers at a Maasai-owned wildlife conservancy.

    Watch Conservation in Kenya: A UNE Travel Course

    Image

    Dominica

    ENV 376: Caribbean Sustainable Development and CIT 420: Global Citizenship

    Dr. Thomas Klak

    This is a Fall semester course that includes spending 13 days in early January in Dominica. You experience first-hand the challenges of — and progress toward — sustainable development in the self-proclaimed “Nature Island.” The class fulfills both UNE’s Advanced Studies and Citizenship requirements by engaging with Dominican partners who are working to achieve sustainable development, and by participating in hands-on development projects. Other experiences in Dominica include working on a fair trade banana farm to learn about Dominica’s economic mainstay crop; visiting a beach where sea turtles lay their eggs; hiking to the world’s only Boiling Lake; and bird-watching for the beautiful Imperial Parrot, Dominica’s national bird and an endangered species. You also instruct students about environmental protection at a local primary school.

    Image
    a student poses in front of a mountain in the dominican republic

    This website uses cookies to understand how you use the website and to improve your experience. By continuing to use the website, you accept the University of New England’s use of cookies and similar technologies. To learn more about our use of cookies and how to manage your browser cookie settings, please review our Privacy Notice.