BA in Environmental Analysis & Policy

NOTE: In academic year 2020–2021, the Department of Earth & Environment recoded all courses from ES and GE to EE.

Environmental Analysis & Policy majors are trained broadly in the social sciences with a clearly defined specialization in the environmental field. Students learn about the social and institutional framework in which environmental and natural resource planning, management, and policymaking take place. Students take classes in the natural and physical sciences to ensure they understand the biophysical basis of environmental issues. Students gain a strong set of analytical tools that are needed by a growing number of government agencies, consulting firms, and nonprofit sectors that all deal with a wide range of environmental analysis or energy and environmental policymaking.

Learning Outcomes

  • Demonstrate knowledge of (a) current environmental issues, and the manner in which they are related to (b) fundamental concepts from social science disciplines (microeconomics as well as one or more of sociology, anthropology, political science/international relations, or law) and (c) fundamental concepts from natural science disciplines (one or more of physics, chemistry, biology).
  • Demonstrate knowledge of quantitative and qualitative theoretical frameworks and methodological approaches used to analyze environmental problems and understand the effectiveness of policy interventions.
  • Quantitatively analyze data and perform simulation modeling to characterize the effects of anthropogenic stressors (e.g., pollution)—and policy interventions to address them—on human and natural systems.
  • Communicate effectively concepts in the natural and social sciences as they relate to environmental issues, both in writing and verbally, and demonstrate understanding of the broader societal impacts of environmental problems and policies.
  • Apply a range of analysis methods toward solving qualitative and quantitative problems in the design and implementation of policies to address environmental issues.


All BU undergraduate students, including both entering first-year and transfer students, will pursue coursework in the BU Hub, the University’s general education program that is integrated into the entire undergraduate experience. BU Hub requirements can be satisfied in a number of ways, including coursework in and beyond the major as well as through cocurricular activities. Students majoring in Environmental Analysis & Policy Sciences will ordinarily, through coursework in the major, satisfy BU Hub requirements in Scientific Inquiry I & II; Quantitative Reasoning I & II; Diversity, Civic Engagement & Global Citizenship; Ethical Reasoning; Research & Information Literacy; Communication; and the Intellectual Toolkit. Remaining BU Hub requirements will be satisfied by selecting from a wide range of available courses outside the major or, in some cases, cocurricular experiences.

A major in Environmental Analysis & Policy requires the completion of 16 courses, approved by the student’s advisor, with a grade of C or higher. The 16 courses comprise seven required principal courses, four required related courses, and five elective courses. Up to one semester (4 credits) of Directed Study (EE 491 or 492) may be applied toward fulfillment of the 16-course requirement for the major.

Unless otherwise noted, all required courses are 4 credit hours.

Required Courses

Introductory Core Courses (3)

  • CAS EE 100 Environmental Change and Sustainability
  • CAS EE 107 Introduction to Climate and Earth System Science
  • CAS EE 270 Data, Models, and Analysis in Earth & Environment

CAS EE 100 and EE 107 may be taken in either order; both must be taken before EE 270. Students who have previously completed CAS MA 213 or EC 203 may substitute that course for EE 270.

Principal Courses (4)

  • CAS EE 309 Intermediate Environmental Analysis and Policy
  • CAS EE 375 Introduction to Quantitative Environmental Modeling
  • CAS EE 528 United States Environmental Policy or CAS EE/IR 304 Environmentally Sustainable Development
  • CAS EE 545 Methods of Environmental Policy Analysis

Required Related Courses (4)

  • CAS BI 107 Biology I
  • CAS BI 306 Biology of Global Change or CAS EE/BI 307 Biogeography
  • CAS EC 101 Introductory Microeconomic Analysis
  • CAS MA 121 Calculus for the Life and Social Sciences I or CAS MA 123 Calculus I

Electives (5)

Students choose five courses from the following list. The topical areas are meant to be suggestive only. Students may, with their advisor’s approval, substitute equivalent courses through the Washington, D.C. Internship Program and other study abroad programs.

Environmental Modeling

  • CAS EE 302 Remote Sensing of Environment
  • CAS EE 365 An Introduction to Geographic Information Systems (GIS)
  • CAS EE 444 Digital Image Processing—Remote Sensing
  • CAS EE 445 Physical Models in Remote Sensing
  • CAS EE 446 Remote Sensing of the Lower Atmosphere
  • CAS EE 501 Advanced Topics in Remote Sensing
  • CAS EE 505 Geographic Information Systems (GIS)
  • CAS EE 508 Data Science for Conservation Decisions
  • CAS EE 516 Multivariate Analysis for Geographers
  • CAS EE 519 Energy, Society, and the Environment

Economic and Policy Analysis

  • CAS EC 201 Intermediate Microeconomic Analysis
  • CAS EC 320 Economics of Less-Developed Regions
  • CAS EC 337 Economic Analysis of Legal Issues
  • CAS EC 371 Environmental Economics
  • CAS EC 571 Energy and Environmental Economics
  • CAS EE 250 The Fate of Nations: Climate, Resources, and Institutions
  • CAS EE/IR 304 Environmentally Sustainable Development
  • CAS EE 460 Food, Energy, and Water Policy
  • CAS EE 508 Data Science for Conservation Decisions
  • CAS EE 519 Energy, Society, and the Environment
  • CAS EE 524 Environmental Justice
  • CAS EE 538 Research for Environmental Agencies and Organizations
  • CAS EE 555 World Oil Markets
  • CAS HI 292 Capitalism in America: Economic History of the US
  • CAS HI 589 Nature’s Past: Histories of Environment and Society
  • CAS SO 313 Economic Sociology
  • CAS SO 448 Culture, Markets, and Inequality

Human Institutions

  • CAS EC 320 Economics of Less-Developed Regions
  • CAS EE 201 World Regional Geography
  • CAS EE 250 The Fate of Nations: Climate, Resources, and Institutions
  • CAS EE/IR 304 Environmentally Sustainable Development
  • CAS EE 347 Water Resources & the Environment
  • CAS EE 395 & CAS EE 396 Sustainability Science: Earth House Practicum 1 & 2
  • CAS EE 400 Environment and Development: A Political Ecology Approach
  • CAS EE 506 Global Resource Politics
  • CAS EE 508 Data Science for Conservation Decisions
  • CAS EE 521 Law for Sustainability
  • CAS EE 522 The Development of Sustainable Environmental Responsibility
  • CAS EE 524 Environmental Justice
  • CAS EE 538 Research for Environmental Agencies and Organizations 2
  • CAS EE 555 World Oil Markets
  • CAS HI 291 Politics of the American Environment
  • CAS HI 351/EE 394 Environmental History of Africa
  • CAS HI 525 Development in Historical Perspective
  • CAS IR/EE 594 Global Environmental Negotiation and Policy
  • CAS SO 277 Technology and Society
  • CAS SO 448 Culture, Markets, and Inequality

International Environmental Policy

  • CAS EC 320 Economics of Less-Developed Regions
  • CAS EE 201 World Regional Geography
  • CAS EE 250 The Fate of Nations: Climate, Resources, and Institutions
  • CAS EE/IR 304 Environmentally Sustainable Development
  • CAS EE 521 Environmental Law and Policy
  • CAS EE 524 Environmental Justice
  • CAS EE 535 Global Land Conservation: Theory and Practice
  • CAS EE 555 World Oil Markets
  • CAS HI 351/GE 394 Environmental History of Africa
  • CAS IR 311 Climate Change and Development Policy
  • CAS IR 333 Non-State Actors in International Relations
  • CAS IR 373 Global Governance and International Organization
  • CAS IR 395/PO 328 North-South Relations
  • CAS IR 520/PO 550 The State and Public Purpose in Asia
  • CAS IR 573 Introduction to Public International Law
  • CAS IR/EE 594 Global Environmental Negotiation and Policy
  • CAS IR 596/PO 529 Globalization and Contemporary Capitalism in Advanced Industrialized Nations
  • CAS IR/EE 597 Development and Environment in Latin America
  • CAS IR/EE 599 Science, Politics, and Climate Change
  • CAS PO 381/HI 287 History of American Foreign Relations Since 1898
  • CAS SO/IR 242 Globalization and World Poverty
  • CAS SO 320 Political Sociology

Related Programs and Study Abroad

Earth House

Earth House is a sustainable living-learning community for undergraduates at 7 Buswell Street, on South Campus. The historic row house and its supporting energy, water, food, and waste systems are the principal objects of inquiry for student-residents. Students take part in at least one change or upgrade in sustainability of Earth House during their residential year, while analyzing Earth House and developing a proposal for the single most environmentally and cost-effective upgrade in the physical plant or resident consumer behavior for implementation in the following year. Cocurricular credit is available through CAS EE 395/396 Earth House Sustainability Practicum. Earth House is advised by faculty in Earth & Environment, College of Engineering, and Questrom School of Business; and staff of Sustainability@BU. More information about Earth House is available here.

Boston University’s study abroad and internship programs offer several educational opportunities for students pursuing study in the areas of earth and environment. The following are sample programs popular among Earth & Environment students.

Denmark University of Copenhagen Exchange

Boston University students have the opportunity to directly enroll at one of Europe’s top universities, the University of Copenhagen, for a semester or an academic year. This exchange program will be of interest to students in all undergraduate fields, especially political science, history, economics, international relations, psychology, and sociology, among many others. More information about the program is available here.

Sydney, Australia Internship Program

The Sydney Internship program combines coursework at the BU Sydney Academic Center with professional work experience in or near Sydney. The program is offered during the fall, spring, and summer academic semesters. Students live in single bedrooms in fully furnished suites in the BU Sydney Academic center. In the first six weeks of the program, students complete coursework covering Australia’s dynamic history, contemporary culture, and place in the modern world. In the final eight weeks, students enroll in a 4-credit internship program while simultaneously taking a final required elective course on Australian Culture & Society. More information about the program is available here.

Washington, D.C. Internship Program

The Washington, D.C. Internship Program offers students the opportunity to study and intern in one of the world’s most important capital cities. Although known primarily as the capital of American politics, Washington, D.C., plays a pivotal role, both nationally and internationally, in business, law, the sciences, public relations, media, and the arts. The program offers students the opportunity to focus on leadership, public policy, and agenda setting in their area of interest. More information about the program is available here.

Honors in the Major

Students who maintain a minimum GPA of 3.0 are eligible to work toward honors in the major. Requirements include completion of the two-course sequence of independent study (CAS EE 401 and CAS EE 402) and successful defense of a senior thesis as the primary means to graduate with honors in Earth & Environment. In appropriate circumstances, and with the approval of the Departmental Honors Committee, students may apply significant summer research toward the production of a senior thesis. In such cases, students combine independent summer fieldwork with either EE 401 or EE 402 as the basis for writing and defending a senior honors thesis.

Each honors student is advised by at least two faculty members, who act as first and second readers of the Senior Honors Thesis. Interested students should contact the department Director of Undergraduate Studies, who oversees departmental honors, no later than March of the junior year.