Jul 07, 2020  
2020-2021 General Catalog (Year Under Revision) 
2020-2021 General Catalog (Year Under Revision)

Environment and Society

Return to {$returnto_text} Return to: S.J. and Jessie E. Quinney College of Natural Resources

Department Head: Christopher L. Lant
Location: Natural Resources 201
Phone: (435) 797-1790
FAX: (435) 797-4048

Undergraduate Advisor: Shelly Kotynek, Natural Resources 120, (435) 797-2473, shelly.kotynek@usu.edu

Degrees offered: Bachelor of Science (BS) in Environmental Studies; BS and Master of Science (MS) in Recreation Resource Management; BS in Geography; MS in Geography; MS and PhD in Environment and Society; MS and PhD in Ecology

Undergraduate emphases: Geography BS—Human-Environment Geography, Geographic Information Science

Full details of the learning objectives, assessment plans, student outcomes, and evidence of continuous improvement for these programs of study can be found at qcnr.usu.edu/envs/about_envs/assessment.

Undergraduate Programs


The department offers the following undergraduate degree programs: Environmental Studies, Geography, and Recreation Resource Management. Each of these programs offers a balanced exposure to key ideas and principles of the social, biological, and physical sciences, placing special emphasis on the human dimensions of natural resources and environmental management. The department's goal is to train professionals who can lead the way toward finding and keeping a sustainable balance between protecting the environment and enhancing human societies.

Departmental programs offer learning experiences in the classroom and in the field, as well as frequent individual contacts with faculty as teachers and advisors. Seasonal employment, internships, and other activities promoting hands-on experience in natural resource and geographic professions are strongly encouraged.

The Environmental Studies curriculum is designed for students who wish to acquire a broad understanding of natural resources and human-environment relationships, together with the technical background needed to understand environmental issues. It provides an opportunity for students to select from several areas of emphasis, depending upon their career goals.

The Geography degree is designed to provide a broad education built around new tools and new knowledge in geography that will be critical for a student's future success. Students choose one of two areas of emphasis: Human-Environment Geography or Geographic Information Science. These emphases represent two important directions of geography in the twenty-first century.

The Recreation Resource Management curriculum prepares students for careers in planning and management of visitor use in wildland recreation settings such as state and national parks, forests, monuments, and wilderness areas. Because such jobs require an understanding of the landscape, its natural resources, and the people who visit, the major offers courses in both the biophysical and social sciences, along with an emphasis on communication and collaboration skills.

Environment and Society Minors

The department offers minors in Environmental Studies, Geography, Geography Teaching, Recreation Resource Management, and Sustainable Systems.


Admission Requirements

Admission requirements for the Department of Environment and Society are the same as those described for the S.J. and Jessie E. Quinney College of Natural Resources .

Graduation Requirements

All courses listed as major subject courses must be taken on an A-B-C-D-F basis. Students must achieve a grade of C- or better in all ENVS and GEOG courses used to satisfy the requirements for a major in the Department of Environment and Society. The grade point average for all courses taught by the S.J. and Jessie E. Quinney College of Natural Resources must be 2.5 or higher.

All students in the Environmental Studies and Recreation Resource Management majors must complete a series of basic lower-division courses providing the disciplinary foundation for natural resource professions before moving on to professional coursework. Equivalents of these foundation courses may be taken at many two- and four-year colleges. Some foundation and core courses may also be used toward the University Studies requirements, as shown by the University Studies designations listed in parentheses following the course numbers. Students should consult their academic advisor if they have questions about University graduation requirements.

Recommended Four-year Plans

Recommended semester-by-semester four-year plans for students working toward a bachelor's degree are available in the Environment and Society Department.

Students should consult with their advisor to develop a plan of study tailored to their individual needs and interests.

Financial Assistance

The main opportunities for undergraduates to find financial support through grants, work-study, and loans are found in Financial Aid and Scholarship Information. Some students may be able to find paid internships with private or governmental organizations or work for a faculty member on a research project. Interested persons should contact the S.J. and Jessie E. Quinney College of Natural Resources  Academic Service Center for more information on scholarships for undergraduate students.

University Honors Program

The University Honors Program offers students in all colleges and majors the unique opportunity to deepen their educational experience with hands-on practical applications of their academic knowledge. The Honors Program admits incoming, transfer, and existing USU students based on application. High achieving students with at least one year remaining are encouraged to apply.  See the University Honors Program catalog entry and website (honors.usu.edu) for more information.


Additional Information

For additional information about the Bachelor of Science requirements, course sequencing, and departmental emphasis areas and their related coursework, as well as updated information describing current programs and courses offered by the Department of Environment and Society, visit the Environment and Society main office, Natural Resources 201, or visit: www.qcnr.usu.edu/envs.

Major requirement sheets, which outline career opportunities and required courses for departmental majors, can be obtained from the department.

Graduate Programs

Admission Requirements

See general admission requirements. Applicants for graduate study in the Department of Environment and Society should have a bachelor's degree from an accredited college or university, an overall GPA of at least 3.0 (out of 4.0), and GRE scores (quantitative and verbal) above the 40th percentile. Foreign students should submit a TOEFL score of at least 550. Exceptions to these standards will be considered on a case-by-case basis. Written statements of interest help match applicants with faculty advisors. A faculty member must agree to serve as the major professor in order for an applicant to be accepted. Prospective students are encouraged to contact faculty members early in the application process to investigate mutual interests, projects, and prospects for financial support.

The department's graduate programs focus on providing students with a broad foundation in the social and natural sciences as they relate to the study, planning, and management of natural resources and the environment. The curriculum is designed to enhance interdisciplinary integration by emphasizing current and future environmental issues facing humanity. Coursework and research are focused on problem-solving through the application of social research methods, case studies, computer mapping, and other analytical techniques.

The department values intellectual, academic, and social diversity in the applicants for graduate study. Mature professionals seeking education to augment life experiences, or practical training to pursue new career paths, are also encouraged to apply. Knowledge gaps will be identified early in a student's program and addressed on a case-by-case basis through agreements between students and their graduate advisory committees.

Master of Natural Resources

In addition to its Master of Science and doctoral programs, the department also participates in the Master of Natural Resources. This is a nonthesis master's degree program designed for students and practicing professionals seeking advanced training in natural resource management, with an emphasis on collaboration and interdisciplinary teamwork.

Graduate Certificates

The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) program  offers training at the graduate level related to the National Environmental Policy Act, including how to manage the NEPA process and write effective NEPA documents, reviewing NEPA documents, environmental risk communication, environmental compliance, interdisciplinary team-building, environmental contracting, cumulative impact analysis and documentation, conflict management, and socio-economic impact analysis. The certificate leads to careers in federal natural resource agencies, typically as a member of planning teams, where NEPA expertise is critical to decision-making regarding alternative uses of the land.

The Natural Resource and Environmental Education (NREE) program  provides graduate students with a comprehensive education for understanding and communicating natural resources and environmental information, and for developing the analytical skills needed to effectively implement appropriate environmental education and communication techniques for varying audiences. Careers are available with land management agencies; in formal (K-12 school based) and nonformal (youth, community, and outdoor) education; in nonprofit organizations; and in the for-profit commercial sector.


Students are encouraged to undertake one or more internships with various agencies and organizations as a means of exploring various career possibilities.


The generation of new knowledge through research is one of the key contributions that an academic department makes to professions and society at large. Research is also a major venue for the interaction of graduate students and faculty in the Department of Environment and Society. Although faculty and students work on many different issues, the research strives to be interdisciplinary and focuses on merging the relevant social and natural sciences. Work is undertaken in Utah, elsewhere in the United States, and internationally. Funding comes from a variety of public and private sources.

Financial Assistance

General aspects of financial support for graduate students at Utah State University are listed in the Graduate Financial Assistance  section. This includes important information on university-wide policies and terms of reference for research and teaching assistantships, graduate tuition obligations and benefits, Western Regional Graduate Programs, and competitive university-wide fellowships and scholarships.

The Department of Environment and Society intends that all graduate students be financially supported. Graduate research assistantships are available through major professors having contracts, grants, or other awards. Internships may also be created on a case-by-case basis. A student may want to author or co-author a proposal with a faculty member to fund a new initiative. There are also open competitions for graduate scholarships and fellowships through the S.J. and Jessie E. Quinney College of Natural Resources. The department also has a few graduate teaching assistantships where graduate students typically help instructors with teaching, grading, or recitation in large courses. Interested persons should contact the department early in the application process for more information on financial assistance for graduate students. Prospective students may also visit www.qcnr.usu.edu/envs.

FACULTY - S.J. and Jessie W Quinney College of Natural Resources  


    Undergraduate MajorUndergraduate MinorGraduate MajorGraduate CertificateDoctoral Program

    Return to {$returnto_text} Return to: S.J. and Jessie E. Quinney College of Natural Resources