Department OF ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCE, POLICY AND GEOGRAPHY
Master of Arts (MA) in Environmental Science and Policy
This non-thesis track provides a balance between Environmental Science and Environmental Policy in a format desired by practicing professionals in environmental fields. Students within this track will be provided rigorous training in a variety of scientific principles and techniques as well an in-depth understanding of the socio-cultural and political contexts in which specific environmental problems arise and are addressed. The experience culminates in a final project that requires students to integrate and apply the knowledge and skills acquired in their coursework.
Final projects* will typically fall into one of the three following themes:
- Meta-Analysis Projects—these projects involve bringing together the seminal ideas, theories and concepts of a field in an original synthesis to produce new insights and observations that may move the community’s understanding forward. Such a project would likely involve primarily archival and document analysis, based on the relevant scientific literature of the chosen field.
- Focused Fieldwork Projects—these projects utilize accepted research methods to answer a specific question concerning anything from local ecosystem functions, services or health; spatial distribution of environmental phenomena; to public attitudes about ongoing environmental conflicts. Focused Field Projects may use a variety of research methods, including but not limited to, survey research, photographic techniques, water or soil sampling techniques, laboratory analysis, spatial analysis and mapping. They are generally more narrowly defined than topics chosen for master’s theses, and may be very specific to particular places and times. A Focused Field Project demonstrates your ability to collect appropriate data in order to an answer a practical and applied question. Such skills are useful in many entry-level environmental positions.
- Policy Case Studies— these studies use a combination of document, archival and possible field methods to analyze policy approaches to, or public attitudes toward, a specific environmental problem, usually at the local or state scale. A thorough comparison of the possible impacts of specific policies intended to resolve an environmental problem may be explored with the goal of suggesting ideal outcomes in the form of a policy analysis report. Case studies may also involve measuring the effectiveness of particular organizations such as non-profits or government agencies or the impact of specific entities such as local industries or corporations on well-defined ecosystems. Outcome assessments of specific regulatory laws regarding the environment may also be analyzed.
*You may propose a final project outside the scope of the aforementioned themes may be proposed, but you must seek approval from the professor teaching the Final Project course.