Environmental Studies

Program Offerings

Offering type

For more than 30 years, the Program in Environmental Studies (ENV), now based in the High Meadows Environmental Institute (HMEI), has aimed to equip Princeton students with the skills to address critical environmental challenges that they will face throughout their careers and in life. Our guiding ethos is grounded in the appreciation that environmental challenges — both present and future — cannot be solved by any one discipline alone, but require concerted, multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary efforts, spanning all four divisions of the university. To that end, the program is designed to attract students from all disciplinary backgrounds and with varied interests, and to allow them to tailor their learning while also ensuring that they are exposed to fundamental environmental questions and methods/approaches through a variety of complementary lenses. In that sense, the ENV certificate — and, if approved, the minor — is designed to complement majors and not overlap or compete with them: specifically, it aims to provide a much broader multidisciplinary lens than any individual department or even individual division could.


Goals for Student Learning

The ENV program aims to achieve a coherent structure in support of two fundamental goals: (1) to provide a multidisciplinary and complementary academic experience to students from diverse academic backgrounds and disciplines, and with diverse interests in environmental questions; and (2) to do so in a way that allows students the freedom and support to tailor their own path. To this end, the key learning goals of the ENV program are:

  • Via core courses, to give students a broadly accessible introduction to the key environmental concepts and challenges, seen through a variety of lenses: scientific, humanistic, policy, etc. Those students who seek lab experience have the option to take a version of a core course that has a science lab component.
  • Via foundational courses, to give students an in-depth exposure to specific topics of interest treated through at least two very different lenses that span not just different disciplines but different divisions. Students will learn how different disciplines frame research questions on the same topic, what methods they use to pursue them and how they communicate their results both to peers and broadly. It is this ambitiously complementary and multidisciplinary approach — rather than any specific topic per se — that constitutes the major learning goal for the program.
  • Via an ample and varied selection of elective courses, to give students the freedom to pursue the topics of greatest interest either by deepening their knowledge in certain areas or by exploring altogether different topics.
  • Via independent work, to give students the opportunity to sit with their own environment-related question and bring their own background, insights and expertise to tackle it.
  • Via the senior capstone experience, to give a cohort of students that tends to span 12–15 different departments from across all divisions the opportunity to discuss together the environmental issues that they deem most pressing and bring their own insights and expertise to bear.


None, but students are strongly encouraged to complete at least one of the two 200-level ENV foundational courses, ENV 210A: Scientific Foundations of the Environmental Nexus (SEN), or ENV 210B: Scientific Foundations of the Environmental Nexus (SEL), or ENV 238: Environmental Keywords (SA) prior to declaring the minor.

Admission to the Program

Students may declare the minor as early as the spring of their sophomore year but no later than fall semester of junior year.

Undergraduates wishing to pursue an environmental studies minor should complete the ENV Minor Enrollment Form. Once submitted, you will be contacted by email to schedule an appointment with the ENV program director, Corina Tarnita ([email protected]), or Amber Lee ([email protected]), the undergraduate/graduate program manager, to discuss your program of study.

Program of Study

The Minor in Environmental Studies is open to students concentrating in any academic discipline and designed for students seeking a broad, multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary introduction to environmental topics. To be eligible for the minor, students are required to complete two (2) foundational courses, at least one of which is at or above the 300 level, and three (3) elective courses, at least two of which are at or above the 300 level. Two of the total five (5) courses must be in humanities and/or social sciences and two must be in natural sciences and engineering. No more than one (1) course filling the requirement for the ENV minor may also be counted toward the student’s departmental concentration or another minor/certificate. 

Students are required to participate in a capstone series of 2–3 dinner discussions in their senior year. As a group, students pursuing the ENV minor choose the theme of each dinner and a group of HMEI teaching postdocs share a few reading/listening materials on that topic prior to the dinner and facilitate the dinner discussion. 

Independent Work

Students must investigate an environmental topic as a component of their independent work, which can take one of four forms:

  1. a substantial part (e.g., a chapter) of a senior thesis.
  2. a junior paper submitted to fulfill departmental requirement; supervising faculty needs to attest to its ENV focus.
  3. a 15–20-page final report based on work done (at any stage of undergrad career) during an HMEI internship supervised by a University faculty member. The supervising faculty must review and sign off on the paper as being of sufficient quality to satisfy an independent paper requirement (e.g., a JP).
  4. a 15–20-page independent paper supervised and approved by an HMEI or HMEI-affiliated faculty.

In all these instances, when the supervising faculty is in doubt about whether the environmental focus is sufficient to satisfy the minor requirement, the student needs to reach out to the ENV program director to obtain approval prior to embarking on the work.

Additional Requirements

Students pursuing the ENV minor are required to participate in HMEI’s annual Discovery Day poster show in the spring of their senior year, in which they share with fellow students, faculty and staff the motivation, methodology and final results of their independent research.


  • Director

    • Corina E. Tarnita
  • Executive Committee

    • Ian C. Bourg, Civil and Environmental Eng
    • Allison Carruth, Effron Center Study of America
    • Jacob S. Dlamini, History
    • William A. Gleason, English
    • Katharine B. Hackett, High Meadows Environmental Ins, ex officio
    • Melissa Lane, Politics
    • Reed M. Maxwell, Civil and Environmental Eng
    • Erika L. Milam, History
    • Rob Nixon, English
    • Michael Oppenheimer, Schl of Public & Int'l Affairs
    • Laure Resplandy, Geosciences
    • Daniel Rubenstein, Ecology & Evolutionary Biology
    • Gabriel A. Vecchi, Geosciences
    • Jerry C. Zee, Anthropology

For a full list of faculty members and fellows please visit the department or program website.


ENV 102A - Climate: Past, Present, and Future (also GEO 102A/STC 102A) Not offered this year SEN

ENV 102B - Climate: Past, Present, and Future (also GEO 102B/STC 102B) Not offered this year SEL

ENV 206 - Designing Sustainable Systems (also ARC 208/EGR 208/ENE 202) Fall SEL

ENV 207 - Introduction to Environmental Engineering (also CEE 207) Fall QCR

ENV 219 - Catastrophes across Cultures: The Anthropology of Disaster (also ANT 219) SA

ENV 300 - Environmental Engineering and Energy (also CEE 304/ENE 304) Not offered this year

ENV 304 - Disease Ecology, Economics, and Policy (also ECO 328/EEB 304/SPI 455) Fall SEN

The dynamics of the emergence and spread of disease arise from a complex interplay among disease ecology, economics, and human behavior. Lectures will provide an introduction to complementarities between economic and epidemiological approaches to understanding the emergence, spread, and control of infectious diseases. The course will cover topics such as drug-resistance in bacterial and parasitic infections, individual incentives to vaccinate, the role of information in the transmission of infectious diseases, and the evolution of social norms in healthcare practices. One three-hour lecture, one preceptorial. C. Metcalf

ENV 305 - Topics in Environmental Studies Fall SA

Special topics courses related to the broad field of environmental studies. F. Popper, D. Popper

ENV 306 - Topics in Environmental Studies Spring HA

Special topics courses related to the broad field of environmental studies. Seminar. J. Ruderman

ENV 308 - Documentary Filmmaking in Kenya (also AFS 312/GLS 312/VIS 310) Not offered this year LA

ENV 310 - Environmental Law and Moot Court Spring SA

Examining the relationship between law and environmental policy, this course focuses on cases that have established policy principles. The first half of the seminar will be conducted using the Socratic method. The second half will allow students to reargue either the plaintiff or defendant position in a key case, which will be decided by the classroom jury. L. Mehranvar, D. Greenhouse

ENV 318 - Hydrology: Water and Climate (also CEE 306) Spring SEN

ENV 319 - Environmental Economics (also ECO 329/SPI 306) Fall SA

ENV 326 - Ocean, Atmosphere, and Climate (also GEO 202) Spring SEN

ENV 328 - Energy for a Greenhouse-Constrained World (also EGR 328/ENE 328/MAE 328) Not offered this year SEN

ENV 331 - Environmental Chemistry: Chemistry of the Natural Systems (also CHM 331/GEO 363) Fall SEN

ENV 334 - Global Environmental Issues (also CEE 334/ENE 334/SPI 452) Spring SEN

ENV 339 - Climate Change: Impacts, Adaptation, Policy (also ENE 366/GEO 366/SPI 451) Spring SEN

ENV 349 - Writing about Science (also JRN 349/STC 349) Fall SEN

ENV 350 - The Environment: Science and Policy (also SPI 350) Not offered this year SEN

ENV 356 - Topics in Environmental Justice in the Geosciences (also GEO 360) Spring SEL

ENV 361 - Earth's Atmosphere (also CEE 360/GEO 361) Fall SEN

ENV 362 - Earth History (also GEO 362) Spring SEN

ENV 365 - Conservation Biology (also EEB 308) Fall SEN

ENV 370 - Sedimentology (also CEE 370/GEO 370) Spring SEN

ENV 371 - Resource Recovery for a Circular Economy (also CEE 321/ENE 321) Fall

ENV 372 - Rapid Switch: The Energy Transition Challenge to a Low-carbon Future (also EGR 372/ENE 372) Spring QCR

ENV 384 - Ecology: Species Interactions, Biodiversity and Society (also EEB 321) Fall SEL

ENV 388 - Environmental Materials Chemistry: Researching in Field and Laboratory (also GEO 369/MSE 369) Spring SEN

ENV 403 - Advanced Seminar in American Studies (also AMS 403/ART 406) Not offered this year CDLA

ENV 406 - Energy and Form (also ARC 406) Not offered this year

ENV 417A - Ecosystems, Climate Change and Global Food (also EEB 417A) Fall SEN

ENV 417B - Ecosystems, Climate Change and Global Food (also EEB 417B) Not offered this year SEL

ENV 431 - Solar Energy Conversion (also ECE 431/EGR 431/ENE 431) QCR

ENV 432 - Environment and War (also HIS 432) Fall HA

ENV 472 - Environmental Chemistry of Soils (also CHM 470/GEO 470) Spring

ENV 474 - Special Topics in Civil and Environmental Engineering (also CEE 474) Fall SEN

ENV 492 - Topics in the Formal Analysis of the Urban Structure (also ARC 492/URB 492) Spring