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e s f home link - e s f college of environmental science and forestry

Environment, Communication & Society Bachelor of Science in Environmental Studies

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This option focuses on how communication and social systems influence environmental affairs and shape our perceptions of the non-human world. It addresses the subjects of rhetoric and discourse; news media; public participation; advocacy campaigns; collaboration; conflict resolution; risk communication; social processes; and representations of nature in literature and popular culture.

In addition, the option helps students explore the diversity of ways that environmental problems are understood, and ways that cultural meanings of nature are expressed, including through literature and the arts. No matter where your career path leads, the critical value of having a strategic, systems-based, and skilled understanding of communication dynamics and processes cannot be exaggerated.

The ECS option is based on the premise that it is through written, oral, and visual communication that humans determine their relationship with the rest of the planet and with each other concerning it. Therefore, the option is committed to equipping students with increased knowledge and skills to contribute to the effectiveness of all aspects of the environmental, civic, governmental, non-government organizations, and business communities.

We provide a broad-based foundation in environmental communication theory and application through core courses that all students in the option take. Yet we know students have individual interests and plans, so the option is flexible enough so students can choose option courses and option methods courses that make the most sense. Individual interests that students may pursue as part of this option include literature of nature, environmental values and ethics, the meanings of nature, advocacy, collaboration, leadership and group processes, dispute resolution, mass media and popular culture, information use, environmental journalism, and environmental education/ interpretation.

The ECS option is based on four key ideas.

  • Communication among Diverse Perspectives: We seek to strengthen students’ ability to identify and appreciate their own and others ideological and cultural
    perspectives as expressed in written, oral, and visual discourse. This increases students ability to better understand and participate in key ecological debates; work effectively with scientific, resource management, governmental and advocacy communities to address complex environmental issues; and build campaigns and educational programs.
  • Theory into Practice: We place a primary emphasis on the application of theory so that students gain informed skills they can strategically use in diverse settings in non-government organizations, industry, government or wherever their professional lives take them. We highly value service learning, experiential learning, and field experiences as part of a student’s program.
  • Critical Thinking: We encourage students to think critically about cultural patterns, economic and political lives, ethics, risk, science, the mass media, popular culture, literature, and other means by which we humans socially construct our beliefs, attitudes, policies, and behaviors. We encourage students to especially think critically about ecological degradation, power and beauty.
  • Preparing for the Long Haul: We recognize the value of the “whole person” and reflect this in our emphasis on spirit, imagination, celebration, connection to the natural world, emotional and artistic expression, building an affirming community, and sharing reflections on the personal challenges environmental
    professionals face. We want students to connect with the sources of their own deepest passions.

Environment, Communication & Society (ECS) Option Courses

An ECS Option Course is one that allows students to expand or deepen their understanding of those aspects and intersections of environment, communication and society. It is in the selection of these courses that students are able to more deeply explore their individual interests. The following is a list of courses students may select from. Be careful to make sure that you meet the prerequisites for a course before signing up for it.

Option Requirement Overview

Category Course Name Credits
Required EST 390, EST 395, EST 493 9
Methods Two from Methods list below 6
Option Electives Five Courses from the list below. NOTE: Limitations exist for Environmental Writing & Rhetoric (EWR) Minors. 15
  Total Option Credits 30

All courses in the Communication, Environment, and Society option are offered at ESF.

Option Required Courses

Courses Course Name Credits
EST 390 Social Processes and the Environment 3
EST 395 Public Communication of Science & Technology 3
EST 493 Environmental Communication Workshop 3

Option Methods Courses (two of the following)

Courses Course Name Credits
EWP 495/EST 695 Environmental Journalism 3
EWP 420 Public Presentation Skills 3
EFB 312 Introduction to Personal Environmental Interpretation Methods 3
EFB 417 Non-Personal Environmental Interpretive Methods 3
ESF 300 Introduction to Geospatial Information Technologies 3

Additional courses may be approved by consulting with your advisor.

For all ECS students, regardless if they are pursuing the EWR Minor
Courses Course Name Credits
EST 312 Sociology of Natural Resources 3
EST 353 Behavior Change and the Environment 3
EST 366 Attitudes, Values & the Environment 3
EST 405 Gender, Culture and the Environment 3
EST 415 Environmental Justice 3
EST 450 Sustainable Enterprise 3
EST 550 Environmental Impact Analysis
LSA 312 Place/Culture/Design 3
FOR 372 Fundamentals of Outdoor Recreation 3
EWP 394 The Art of Storytelling 3
EWP 450 Digital Storytelling 3
EWP 495/EST 695 Environmental Journalism 3
EWP 420 Public Presentation Skills 3
EFB 312 Introduction to Personal Environmental Interpretation Methods 3
EFB 417 Non-Personal Environmental Interpretive Methods 3
For ECS students NOT pursuing the EWR Minor
Courses Course Name Credits
EWP 300 Survey of Environmental Writing 3
EWP 311 Urban Environmental Literature 3
EWP 390 Literature of Nature 3
EWP 490 Contemporary Literature of Nature 3
EWP 494/696 Creative Non-Fiction in the Sciences 3
Possible SU courses for all ECS students, regardless if they are pursuing the EWR Minor
Courses Course Name Credits
CRS 338 Communication in Organizations 3
CRS 355 Political Communication 3
CRS 426 Persuasion 3
PAF 420 Interpersonal Conflict Resolution Skills 3
PSC 315 Media & Politics 3

Additional courses may be approved by consulting with your advisor.

EWP 300 and EST 395 should be taken early in the program cycle, typically in the fall and spring of junior year, respectively. Other courses may be taken in any sequence. Students should consult college catalogs and discuss other possibilities with their Advisors in order to support individual areas of interest. The most relevant courses at Syracuse University to look at include those offered by the departments of Communication and Rhetorical Studies, Political Science, and Sociology, respectively. The Program for Advanced Research on Conflict and Collaboration (PARCC, http://www.maxwell.syr.edu/parcc.aspx) also offers courses in conflict resolution methods and skills.

Typical Course Sequence

This is a possible sequence for the Environment, Communication and Society Option. In consultation with your Advisor, you may adjust this sequence to suit your specific situation.

Junior- Fall Course Name Credits
EFB 320 General Ecology (R) 4
EWP 407 Writing for Environmental Professionals (R) 3
EST 361 History of the American Environmental Movement (R) 3
ECS Elective 3
EST 395 Public Communication of Science & Technology (R) 3
  Total Semester Credits: 16
Junior- Spring      
EST 321 Government and the Environment (R) 3
APM 391 Introduction to Probability and Statistics (R) 3
ECS Elective 3
EST 390 Social Processes and the Environment 3
  General Elective 3
  Total Semester Credits: 15
Senior- Fall      
Upper Division Computing or Natural Science Course 3-4
Senior Synthesis (R) 3
ECS Elective Course 3
ECS Method Course 3
  General Elective 3
    Total Semester Credits: 15-16
Senior- Spring      
EST 494 Senior Seminar in Environmental Studies (R) 1
CMN 493 Environmental Communication Workshop (R) 3
ECS Elective Course 3
  ECS Elective Course 3
  ECS Method Course 3
  General Elective 3
    Total Semester Credits: 16