Jun 13, 2024  
2019-2020 Catalog 
2019-2020 Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Environmental Systems Science Major

The undergraduate major in Environmental Systems Science prepares students to understand and solve critical challenges facing our environment, such as:

  • impacts of climate change
  • water scarcity, pollution, and management
  • soil degradation and conservation
  • preservation of biological diversity
  • management of natural resources

The major is highly interdisciplinary, integrating the study of fundamental physical, chemical, and biological processes that shape our environment with applications to real-world problems and sustainable solutions.

A hallmark of the Environmental Systems Science major is its breadth and flexibility. Lower division coursework consists of introductory courses in environmental systems science together with foundational courses in mathematics and physical, chemical, and biological sciences. Core courses at the upper division provide students with a firm foundation in the fundamentals of hydrology and climate, environmental chemistry, ecology, microbiology, and soil science. Upper division elective courses allow students to pursue a variety of topics related to environmental systems, including the societal and economic implications of human interactions with the environment. Students participate in research, internship, or service learning activities with faculty as part of their undergraduate studies. This major emphasizes an integrated approach to Environmental Systems Science, incorporating field studies, experiments, and computations in courses with lectures, online learning, seminars, discussions, and laboratories.

Graduates of this major will have a strong background in the theory and application of Environmental Systems Science. They will be well prepared for either graduate studies or jobs in the areas of environmental sciences and sustainability, hydrology and water resources, ecosystem and natural resource management and science, biodiversity and conservation, and many aspects of agricultural sciences. Additionally, Environmental Systems Science is an excellent foundation for professional careers in law, policy, and administration that increasingly involve environmental sciences.

The location of UC Merced in the San Joaquin Valley near the Sierra Nevada offers an excellent and diverse outdoor laboratory for studying the natural environment and how it is affected by human activity. Additionally, the UC Merced Sierra Nevada Research Institute provides a rich milieu of faculty expertise, research seminars and other activities, and provides opportunities for undergraduate internships.

Environmental Systems Science Program Learning Outcomes

Students in the Environmental Systems Science major will achieve the following:

  1. Foundational knowledge of physics, chemistry, biology, and mathematics related to environmental systems that supports a working knowledge of basic research methodologies, data analysis, and interpretation for a variety of environmental related data.
  2. Knowledge of major concepts, theoretical principles, experimental findings, and areas of study related to environmental systems science, and comprehension of the interactions between natural environmental systems and human economic, political, and social systems.
  3. An ability to employ critical thinking, quantitative and numerical analyses, and hypothesis-driven methods of scientific inquiry in the formulation of research questions, experimental design, application and use of laboratory and field instrumentation, and analysis and interpretation of data related to environmental systems.
  4. Effective written and oral communication skills, especially the ability to transmit complex technical information.
  5. An ability to work effectively individually and in teams in classroom, laboratory, and field settings.

Sample plans of study for the Environmental Systems Science degree may be found in the School of Natural Sciences website ns-advising.ucmerced.edu.