Academic Catalog 2023-2024

Slippery Rock University

Geography, Bachelor of Science (BS) - Concentration in Environmental Studies & Sustainability

Students in the environmental studies program study the links between humans and their environment. This program takes an interdisciplinary approach and integrates knowledge from the social and natural sciences in the study of environmental issues. An important goal of the program is for students to understand the relationships that exist between social, behavioral, and environmental systems. We emphasize the collection, analysis, and representation of earth data at scales ranging from the local to the global. Toward the end of their studies, students identify a research problem, gather and analyze data, and prepare a formal paper and presentation on their topic. Opportunities abound for students to engage in fieldwork, internships, and in the production of research in our department.

The environmental studies program provides students with a base in liberal arts skills (critical thinking, writing, and speaking) and in analytical skills such as data collection in the field, in the library, and on the computer; the use of global positioning systems; the use of mapping, spreadsheet, and database software. Many of our students have found work that allows them to address important environmental and social issues in the private or public sector. Representative employment areas for our graduates include environmental consulting, pollution remediation, environmental law or public policy, outdoor education, resource management, geographic information systems analysis, nonprofit environmental organizations, and planning.

Program Learning Outcomes

  • Outcome 1 (GES):  Each graduate shall develop general knowledge and understanding of the concepts of location, place, human environment interactions, movement, and region.
    • Each graduate will demonstrate an understanding of physical features and patterns of the physical environment
    • Each graduate will demonstrate an understanding of features and patterns of the human environment
    • Each graduate will demonstrate an understanding of concepts such as absolute and relative location, proximity, separation, direction, region, hierarchy, density, and dispersion, and methods that are used to describe and analyze spatial patterns
    • Each graduate will demonstrate an understanding of absolute location systems such as latitude-longitude and alpha-numeric grids
    • Each graduate will demonstrate an understanding of major spatial features and patterns in the natural environment such as those relating to climate, oceans, soils, landforms, and vegetation
    • Each graduate will demonstrate an understanding of the major processes, such as evolution, atmospheric circulation, weathering and erosion, ocean currents, plate tectonics, and volcanism that shape patterns in the natural environment.
    • Each graduate will demonstrate an understanding of the major spatial features and patterns in the cultural environment such as language, religion, and agriculture and economic, political, and demographic regions
    • Each graduate will demonstrate an understanding of the major processes such as settlement, migration, trade, technological development, diffusion, and landscape transformation that shape cultural patterns

Geology, Geology, and the Environment, Overall

  • Outcome 1:  Each graduate will develop strong written and oral communication skills, demonstrate the ability to work in a collaborative environment, and exhibit professional attitudes and behavior.
    • Each graduate will deliver oral presentations, demonstrating the ability to effectively communicate discipline-specific concepts
    • Each graduate will write scholarly papers using acceptable format and organization with proper citations to appropriate literature.
    • Each graduate will actively participate in collaborative projects and in academic field trips
    • Each graduate will demonstrate professionalism and integrity in his/her academic conduct
    • Each graduate shall develop the ability to respect and integrate diverse worldviews in problem-solving frameworks
  • Outcome 2:  Each graduate shall possess and apply critical thinking and problem solving skills.
    • Each graduate will demonstrate the ability to develop valid research questions and hypotheses
    • Each graduate will demonstrate the ability to apply proper techniques for data acquisition and interpretation in a problem-solving context
    • Each graduate will demonstrate the ability to solve open-ended problems using scientific methodology
    • Each graduate will develop the ability to make informed, scientifically-based decisions regarding environmental issues
  • Outcome 3:  Each graduate shall develop skills in quantitative, qualitative, technological, laboratory, and field procedures.
    • Each graduate will learn and employ accepted laboratory and field techniques, protocols, and safety procedures
    • Each graduate will learn to read, construct, and comprehend thematic maps and derive perspective output from a map
    • Each graduate will demonstrate the ability to apply knowledge, concepts and techniques from complementary disciplines to solve problems

Related Links

Geography - Environmental Studies and Sustainability, BS Program Page

Geography, Geology, and the Environment Department Page

Professional Licensure/Certification Page

Curriculum Guide

GPA Requirement

Major GPA: 2.0 or higher
Overall GPA: 2.0 or higher


Rock Studies 2 Requirements42-44
Other Basic Requirements0-3
Computer Competency0-3
Major Requirements56-58

* All undergraduate degree programs require a minimum of 120 credits.  Some courses meet multiple requirements, but are only counted once toward the 120 credit total required to graduate.

Rock Studies 2 Requirements

The Rock
SUBJ 139Foundations of Academic Discovery 13
ENGL 102Critical Writing3
ENGL 104Critical Reading3
STAT 152Elementary Statistics I3
Select one of the following:3
Civil Discourse: Theory & Practice
Ethics and Civil Discourse
Civil Discourse and Democracy
Integrated Inquiry
Creative and Aesthetic Inquiry
Select 3 Credits3
Humanities Inquiry
Select 3 Credits3
Social Science Inquiry
Select 3 Credits3
Natural Sciences Inquiry
Select one of the following:3-4
Science of Life
100 Level Chemistry & Lab (CHEM)
100 Level Biology & Lab (BIOL)
Physical Sciences Inquiry
Select one of the following:3-4
Understanding the Physical World
100 Level Environmental Geoscience & Lab (EGEO)
Thematic Thread
Select 12 Credits 212
Total Hours42-44

Course offered in multiple subjects; cannot take course in first major subject.


One course from each category; six credits must be 300-level or above; no more than 4 credits from one subject area; specific courses required in first major, regardless of prefix of course, cannot be used to satisfy thread requirements; any course with same prefix as first major cannot be used to satisfy thread requirements, even if it is not a course in the first major.

Basic Math Requirement

Check with your adviser or a current degree audit report to see if you have been exempted from this course. The credit earned in this course will not be counted toward the 120 credit hour minimum needed to earn a degree.

Complete one of the following:0-3
Meet required minimum SAT or ACT math score OR
Beginning Algebra
Total Hours0-3

Computer Competency

Demonstrate "computer competency" by one of the following:0-3
Pass Computer Competency Exam OR
Select one of the following at SRU or another post-secondary institution:
Introduction to Computing for Liberal Arts
Computer Concepts
Introduction to Computing and Programming
Technology for Wellness
Total Hours0-3


Students must take and pass a course with the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) designation prior to graduation.  Students can meet this requirement by taking any DEI - designated course in any program at any time during their undergraduate career. 

Major Requirements

  • 28 major credits must be taken at SRU or PASSHE
  • 28 major credits must be taken at the 300 level or above
GES 150The Natural Environment 13
GES 205Cultural Geography 13
GES 315Cartography I 13
GES 331Economic Geography 13
Techniques Core
GES 115Introduction to Geospatial Technologies 13
GES 220General Methods of Fieldwork 13
GES 325Introduction to Geographic Information Science 13
EGEO 272Introduction to Georeports/Lab 11
Environmental Studies Core
Introductory Course
Select one of the following:3
Any 100 level BIOL course 2
Any 100 level EGEO course 2
Introduction to Environmental Problems 1
Additional Environmental Studies Core Courses
GES 235Conservation 13
GES 324Environmental Law and Policy 13
GES 362Applications in Sustainability 13
GES 344Environmental Justice 13
or PHIL 324 Environmental Ethics
Capstone Experience
GES 444World Environmental Cultures 13
or GES 469 Field Investigations in the Geosciences
A critical understanding of Community through 40 hours of Service Learning
Service Learning
Select at least one course from each of the following blocks below, at least five courses must be 300 level or above:16-18
Total Hours56-58

Course counts for 50% of Major requirements and Major GPA


Course counts for 50% of Major requirements but not for Major GPA


Some courses may require pre-requisites. Please see course descriptions to determine if there are any pre-requisites for that specific course.


BIOL 104 14
BIOL 105Environmental Biology 13
BIOL 120Plants and Society 13
BIOL 305Wetlands and Aquatic Plants/Lab 13
BIOL 306Freshwater Biomonitoring/Lab 13
BIOL 401Ecology with Lab 13
EGEO 121Meteorology/Lab 14
EGEO 131Oceanography 13
Any EGEO 300/400 level course 23
ENGL 410Literature of the Environment 13
GES 321Introduction to UAS for Remote Sensing and Monitoring3
GES 355Earth's Changing Climate 13
GES 356Earth's Changing Climate Laboratory 11
GES 426Environmental Modeling 13
PCRM 348Natural History of Ecosystems I 13
PCRM 349Natural History of Ecosystems II 13

Course counts for 50% of Major requirements and Major GPA


Course counts for 50% of Major requirements but not for Major GPA


ECON 315Economics of Sustainable Development 13
GES 215Planning for Sustainable Communities 13
GES 345Population Analysis 13
GES 363Energy and Society 13
GES 410Remote Sensing 13
GES 415Cartography II 13
GES 425Advanced Geographic Information Systems 13
HEMT 210Contemporary Travel and Tourism 13
HEMT 314Sustainable Planning for Tourism 13
PCRM 377Cultural Resources Management 13

Course counts for 50% of Major requirements and Major GPA


GES 344Environmental Justice 13
GES 361Gender and the Environment 13
GES 375Geography of Intolerance 13
EGEO 368Women in Science 13
HLTH 311International Health 13
NLPA 120Civic Engagement and Community Decision-Making 13
NLPA 220Introduction to Nonprofit Management 13
INDP 304Urban Sociology 13
INDP 309Health and Society 13
NLPA 320Community Change and Development 13
PHIL 324Environmental Ethics 13

Course counts for 50% of Major requirements and Major GPA

Co-curricular and Experiential Learning

Students are encouraged to explore additional curricular and co-curricular opportunities. There is a strong correlation between long-term student success and participation in the following types of programs and activities:

  1. International study programs (short-term, semester, and year-long)
  2. Student-faculty research
  3. Service-learning classes
  4. Internships
  5. Volunteering

Important Curriculum Guide Notes

This Curriculum Guide is provided to help SRU students and prospective students better understand their intended major curriculum. Enrolled SRU students should note that the My Rock Audit may place already-earned and/or in progress courses in different, yet valid, curriculum categories. Enrolled SRU students should use the My Rock Audit Report and materials and information provided by their faculty advisers to ensure accurate progress towards degree completion. The information on this guide is current as of the date listed. Students are responsible for curriculum requirements at the time of enrollment at the University.

PASSHE - Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education Institutions

Concentration in Environmental Studies and Sustainability (ESSU)
This program is effective as of Fall 2019.
Revised 8-2019
UCC 5.19.2019 

Recommended Four-Year Plan

Plan of Study Grid
First Year
GES 115 Introduction to Geospatial Technologies 3
GES 150 The Natural Environment 3
EGEO 131 Oceanography 3
ENGL 102 Critical Writing 3
ESAP 101 FYRST Seminar * 1
SUBJ 139Foundations of Academic Discovery 1 3
ENGL 104 Critical Reading 3
SCI 101 Science of Life 3
Creative & Aesthetic Inquiry 3
Free elective/minor 3
Free elective/minor 3
Second Year
GES 220 General Methods of Fieldwork 3
STAT 152 Elementary Statistics I 3
Humanities Inquiry 3
Social Science Inquiry 3
Free elective/minor 3
Declare a Thematic Thread 2
GES 205 Cultural Geography 3
GES 235 Conservation 3
EGEO 272 Introduction to Georeports/Lab 1
Select one of the following: 3
Civil Discourse: Theory & Practice
Ethics and Civil Discourse
Civil Discourse and Democracy
Thematic Thread Requirement 3
Third Year
GES 315 Cartography I 3
GES 355 Earth's Changing Climate 3
GES 356 Earth's Changing Climate Laboratory 1
Thematic Thread Requirement 3
Free elective/minor 3
Free elective/minor 3
GES 325 Introduction to Geographic Information Science 3
GES 324 Environmental Law and Policy 3
GES 444 World Environmental Cultures 3
Major elective 3
Thematic Thread Requirement 3
Fourth Year
Major Elective 3
Major Elective 3
Thematic Thread Requirement 3
Free elective/minor 3
Free elective/minor 3
GES 331 Economic Geography 3
GES 344 Environmental Justice 3
GES 362 Applications in Sustainability 3
Major elective 3
Free elective/minor 3
 Total Hours**120

Course offered in multiple subjects; cannot take course in first major subject


Work with your Academic Adviser to declare a Thematic Thread by the end of your fall semester in your second year.


Students are encouraged to take ESAP 101 as a Free Elective.

** This document is meant to serve as a guide. Some planners may show more than 120 credits because faculty have created flexibility in choosing courses.  However, only 120 credits are required to obtain a degree. Please consult with your academic adviser and refer to your curriculum guide prior to registering for courses. This plan should be reviewed, and verified, by you and your academic adviser at least once each academic year. 

Major Code: 6142
Concentration Code: ESSU
Revised:  08.27.2021