Energy and Environment 

The energy-environment challenge is a defining issue of our time, and one of Harvard’s greatest contributions to meeting that challenge will be the education of a new generation of leaders in science, business, law, design, and public service. To this end, the Environmental Science and Public Policy (ESPP) program, in coordination with the Harvard University Center for the Environment (HUCE), is pleased to offer the secondary field in Energy and Environment (E&E). Through coursework and a colloquium, students engaged in the E&E secondary field will increase their exposure to, and literacy in, the interdisciplinary nature of issues related to energy and the environment. 

In the context of the E&E secondary field, 'Energy' refers to the production, distribution, and use of energy by individuals and society for a variety of purposes. This includes the various technologies, policies, and challenges associated with meeting increasing global energy demands. 'Environment' refers to the understanding of the relationships and balances of the natural and constructed world at multiple scales, including how anthropogenic activities and policies affect the relationships between energy demand, environmental quality, and climate change. 

Students from a wide range of concentrations, including the humanities, are invited to participate in the program to explore how different disciplinary perspectives on energy and environment intersect and inform one another. For example, a student concentrating in English may wish to increase their knowledge of the environment and energy in the context of environmental literature or history. A student studying global health may want to better understand the impacts of climate change on water resources, nutrition, and human health. Or, a student in the physical sciences may want to expand their training by improving their understanding of climate dynamics and energy production to support their interest in materials science and energy storage. All participating students share exposure to the core issues related to climate change, the consequences of energy choices, and changes in our physical and biological environment, preparing them to make informed professional and personal decisions about some of the most pressing societal challenges of the 21st century. 

REQUIREMENTS: 4 courses (16 credits) and colloquium participation 

The E&E secondary field requires the successful completion of 4 courses, including one foundational course and three upper-level courses. Students must also participate in a program colloquium, as outlined below. 

Students choose one of the following foundational courses, all of which include content related to both energy and environment: 

  • GE 1085 Energy Resources and the Environment 
  • GE 1094. The Climate-Energy Challenge 
  • GE 1137 The Challenge of Human Induced Climate Change: Transitioning to a Post Fossil Fuel Future 
  • ESPP 11. Sustainable Development 
  • ESE 6. Introduction to Environmental Science and Engineering 

Students must choose three additional upper-level courses. 
At least one course must be chosen from each of two elective categories: Social Sciences and Humanities, and Natural Sciences and Engineering. The complete list of course options can be found on the ESPP website

During each semester there are several opportunities for E&E secondary field students to come together to explore various energy and environmental topics through facilitated discussions. Some colloquia will require preparatory readings and others will require prior attendance at a public lecture on campus. Students are required to attend at least one colloquium each semester, beginning at the time of their acceptance into the program. 

Students must declare their engagement in this secondary field no later than course enrollment deadline of their sixth term and are required to complete an application form. 

Students may petition the ESPP Head Tutor, in advance, for the approval of any exceptions to the course options for the secondary field, including courses offered in Study Abroad programs, at the Harvard Summer School, or any of Harvard’s other schools. 

Freshmen seminars do not count toward secondary field requirements. All courses counting towards the E&E secondary field must be taken for a letter grade. A grade of “C” or better is required for secondary field credit. 


The ESPP Head Tutor, Professor Noel ‘Missy’ Holbrook (, or the Secondary Field Administrator, Lorraine Maffeo (, are available for advice about the secondary field. Students will be assigned an adviser following their submission of an anticipated course of study.