Environmental Policy and Decision Making

Environmental policy and decision making explores the protection of long-term natural resource use and environmental quality through changes in human behavior and policy. Students study the economic and social forces that impact decision making across society. This major gives particular consideration to how policies are formulated and implemented and what impact they will have on society, as well as how to best engage individuals and communities to respond to environmental challenges.  All students in this program receive a faculty mentor within their specialization area.


Students may choose one of the following 5 specializations in which to focus:

  • Communication and Behavior Change- This specialization focuses on how best to communicate environmental, science and risk information to public audiences.  Course work offers opportunities to understand what motivates individuals to act to protect the environment, and how best to frame information to engage the public in pro-environmental behavior.

  • Environmental and Social Justice- This specialization focuses on the local and global inequality in access to and control over resources, the impact this has on livelihoods, and how corporations and policies can contribute to both solutions and problems faced by disadvantaged populations. Course work offers opportunities to understand social inequality in specific contexts, to gain knowledge about globalization's impacts on local development and livelihood strategies, and to better understand the relationship between  socioeconomic status (e.g. race, gender, class) and the environment.

  • Pre-Law- This specialization introduces students to the specifics of the U.S. law and legal process, political theory, and law and policy evaluation.  The courses focus on details of the law and legal system, the political decision making process, the evaluation of laws related to their stated objectives, as well as how legal institutions interact with social institutions.

  • International Policy and Law- This specialization focuses on global issues and on those specific to particular areas of the world beyond the United States. Course work offers opportunities to compare the U.S. context to other contexts and to gain knowledge about globalization, international governance, politics, population and economic development. 

  • Policy and Governance- This specialization focuses on understanding how policies that affect the environment and natural resources are designed and implemented. Through course work, students learn both how policy decision-making processes work and how to analyze and evaluate the specific policies that result from such processes. 

View Environmental Policy and Decision Making major requirements here.