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The University of Chicago offers degree programs, non-degree programs, and stand-alone courses relating to the environment in many disciplines. New programs and courses are added as they become available. If you know of courses or programs not featured here, reach out to us.

Degree Programs

Ecology and Evolutionary Biology PhD

The graduate program in Ecology & Evolution is part of the Darwinian Cluster (along with the program in Integrative Biology and the Committee on Evolutionary Biology), and of the Biological Sciences Division at the University of Chicago, composed of several programs covering all aspects of biological organization. An overview of admissions, student progress, and completion rates within the Darwinian Cluster is available here.

Energy and Environmental Economics PhD

The Department of Economics and Harris School of Public Policy at the University of Chicago started offering three new PhD courses on Energy and Environmental Economics in academic year 2016-17. Energy and Environmental Economics (EEE) is a growing research field, owing to increasing interest in the area among researchers and policymakers. This increasing interest is creating strong demand for faculty among leading economics departments, policy schools, and business schools.

Environmental and Urban Studies Major and Minor

The Environmental and Urban Studies program encourages interdisciplinary approaches to the complex interactions and intersections of urbanism, environment, and society by incorporating frameworks, theories, models and methods from the humanities, social sciences, natural sciences, urban planning and design, and urban science. Students can choose to focus on either the Environmental Track or the Urban Track. Students interested in urban environmental topics can design their program of study through either track.

Environmental Science Major

The Department of the Geophysical Sciences offers a BS degree in Environmental Science. The program is intended for students whose interests fall at the intersection of biology, chemistry, and earth sciences, and is designed to prepare them to enter a variety of interdisciplinary fields in the environmental sciences, including the interface of environmental science and public policy. Students are given the opportunity to study such topics as the biogeochemical cycles, environmental chemistry, microbiology, ecology, the chemistry and dynamics of the ocean and atmosphere, climate change, and environmentally relevant aspects of economics and policy.

Geophysical Sciences Major

The Department of the Geophysical Sciences (GEOS) offers BA and BS degree programs of study in the earth, atmospheric, and planetary sciences. Topics include the physics, chemistry, and dynamics of the atmosphere, oceans, and ice sheets; past and present climate change; the origin and history of the Earth, moon, and meteorites; properties of the deep interior of the Earth and the dynamics of crustal movements; and the evolution and geography of life and the Earth’s surface environments through geologic time. These multidisciplinary topics require an integrated approach founded on mathematics, physics, chemistry, and biology.

Public Policy Major with a Specialization in Energy and Environment

The program of study for the BA degree in Public Policy is designed to train visionary, inspired leaders in policy analysis and implementation; equip them with quantitative, theoretical, and critical-thinking tools; enhance their communication skills; and provide them with a thorough grounding in one or more specific policy areas. The Specialization requirement consists of three upper-division courses within a subfield or policy domain. These courses must be policy-relevant and fit comfortably within the specified Specialization.

Non-Degree Programs

Abrams Environmental Law clinic

The Abrams Environmental Law clinic attempts to solve some of the most pressing environmental problems throughout Chicago, the State of Illinois, and the Great Lakes region. On behalf of clients, the clinic challenges those who pollute illegally, fights for stricter permits, advocates for changes to regulations and laws, holds environmental agencies accountable, and develops innovative approaches for improving the environment. Through clinic participation, students learn substantive environmental law and procedures for addressing concerns through the courts or administrative tribunals.

Certificate in Chicago Studies

The College’s interdisciplinary Certificate in Chicago Studies recognizes students who have meaningfully integrated their academic inquiry with positive, impactful engagement in Chicago across their years in the College. The certificate is available to students in any field of study; the specific fulfillment of its requirements (below) is unique to each student. Students may choose to focus their certificate program on discipline-based, academic study of the city; pre-professional experience with one or more Chicago institutions; deep engagement with a particular community; or social change and advocacy work. Students pursuing the certificate have access to advising and support from Chicago Studies’ team.

Certificate Program in Urban Science and Sustainable Development

The Mansueto Institute’s Certificate in Urban Science and Sustainable Development trains students for careers that address the most challenging and important systemic issue of our time – sustainable urban development. The certificate, which University of Chicago students take in conjunction with existing UChicago degree programs, establishes the scientific and intellectual underpinnings for continued work in this emerging field. It is a response to the challenges of our times, as well as the growing demand for an urban-focused curricular pathway for UChicago scholars.

Data Science for Energy and Environmental Research program (DSEER)

DSEER, supported by an NSF NRT grant, provides funding and resources for graduate students (PhD or academic MS) doing data-driven work in environmental areas, with a special emphasis on research that touches on energy, food, and water (including climate and ecological systems). The goal is to build community among students and to provide training in computational and statistical tools that can enrich students’ primary thesis work.

Stand-Alone Courses/Sequences

Chicago Studies Program

Chicago Studies Quarters mirror the University’s Study Abroad programs, especially those based in cities, that advocate civic literacy, contact, acculturation, and excursion as companion dimensions of learning. Structured as “bundles” of two, three, or four classes, Quarters offer students in the College the opportunity to immerse themselves in Chicago with distinguished instructors versed in aspects of the life and history of the city’s diverse communities. Related Spring 2021 Chicago Studies Quarter Themes: Chicago: Water’s Metropolis; Design and Build: Renovating Space Sustainability in Chicago’s South Side.

Energy Courses

While the Energy Policy Institute is not a degree-granting institution, they highlight a wide range of energy-related courses offered by the University of Chicago. Be advised that not all courses are offered each year in the quarter for which they are listed; students should check with individual departments to verify course schedules.

Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) Training Course

The Environmental, Social, and Governance Research Initiative Center (ESGRIC) offers a course on “Environmental, Social, and Governance Training” taught by Dwight Hopkins, the Alexander Campbell Professor of Theology at the Divinity School. Prof. Hopkins is a constructive theologian teaching classes on social entrepreneurship and working in the areas of contemporary models of theology, various forms of liberation theologies, and East-West cross-cultural comparisons. Interested students can contact dhopkins@uchicago.edu.

Semester in Environmental Science at MBL

The Semester in Environmental Science is a 15-week fall semester at the Ecosystems Center of the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, Massachusetts. The curriculum provides an intensive field and laboratory-based introduction to ecosystem science and the biogeochemistry of coastal forests, freshwater ponds and estuaries.

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