Environmental Science and Public Policy

Professor N. Michele Hoolbrook, Head Tutor 
www.espp.fas.harvard.edu 
 
The concentration in Environmental Science and Public Policy (ESPP) is designed to provide a multidisciplinary introduction to current problems of the environment. It is founded on the premise that the ability to form rational judgments concerning many of the complex challenges confronting society today involving the environment requires both an understanding of the underlying scientific and technical issues and an appreciation for the relevant economic, political, legal, historical, and ethical dimensions. All students have to satisfy a core of requirements in the physical, biological, and social sciences and mathematics. Depending on preparation, students may be encouraged to substitute more advanced courses for these requirements. In consultation with their concentration adviser, students also develop an individual plan of study for a series of advanced courses around a particular field of specialization. Through their field of specialization, students develop expertise in a particular field of study relating to the environment.* 
 
In the junior year, students take one or more seminars to complement their field of specialization. The seminars are envisaged as a central integrating component of the concentration. The seminars cover a number of current environmental issues, comprehensively and in depth. They are taught by faculty from a number of departments in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences and from several of the professional schools, including the Law School, the School of Public Health, and the Business School. Topics covered change from year to year, but have included policy issues relating to environmental health, renewable energy, conservation and biodiversity, and world food systems and the environment. 
 
In the senior year, students undertake a capstone project in which they conduct an in-depth examination of a particular environmental issue consistent with their field of specialization, applying skills and knowledge gained in their courses and tutorial experiences. For students wishing to be considered for honors, the capstone project consists of a year-long 8-credit course senior thesis, while for non-honors students the typical requirement is a one-course term-paper or equivalent. 
The concentration is overseen by a Committee on Degrees functioning as a Board of Tutors including representatives from other departments of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences and from other Schools as appropriate to ensure the requisite breadth of the program. 
 
*To the level that would enable them to pursue graduate level study in the relevant discipline(s) if they choose to do so. 
 
REQUIREMENTS 
Basic Requirements: 13 courses (52 credits) 
  1. Required courses
    1. Introductory Course: The introductory course is designed to provide a multi-disciplinary examination of a particular current environmental challenge. 
    2. 1 course chosen from: 
      1. ESPP 11. Sustainable Development 
      2. EPS 50. The Fluid Earth: Oceans, Atmosphere, Climate, and Environment 
      3. ESE 6. Introduction to Environmental Science and Engineering 
      4. GE 1085 Energy Resources and the Environment 
    3. GE 1094. The Climate-Energy Challenge 
    4. GE 1137 The Challenge of Human Induced Climate Change: Transitioning to a Post Fossil Fuel Future 
  2. GE 1085 Energy Resources and the Environment 
  3. Physical Sciences: PS 1 or PS 11 or EPS 135 – 1 course 
  4. Mathematics and/or Statistics: 2 courses Minimum: Math 1a and Math 1b. More advanced courses are encouraged. 
  5. Biological Sciences: OEB 10 or OEB 55 – 1 course 
  6. Social Sciences: ESPP 77 or 78 – 1 course 
  7. Economics: Ec 1661 – 1 course (Depending on a student’s background, an additional course in Microeconomics may be required in order to take Economics 1661.) 
  8. Advanced Courses: – 4 courses in the student’s field of specialization. At least one course must be from the social sciences/policy, and at least one course must be chosen from the natural sciences or engineering. One course must be in EPS unless a student has taken EPS 50, ES 6, GE 1085, GE 1094 or GE 1137, as their Introductory Course (see "a" above). 
  9. Junior Seminar: ESPP 90 – 1 course, one course chosen from ESPP 90 junior seminar offerings (consistent with focus field of specialization) 
  10. Capstone Project (non-honors): ESPP 91r Supervised Reading and Research – 1 course in the capstone project, students conduct an in-depth examination of a particular environmental issue consistent with their field of specialization (the typical requirement is a term-paper or equivalent). 
  11. Tutorials: Junior Year, ESPP 90 seminar required of all concentrators. 
  12. Thesis: None. 
  13. General Examination: None. 
  14. Other Information
    1. Students must file a concentration plan of study and identify their field of specialization by the end of their sophomore year. The plan of study will be developed in consultation with the student’s adviser and will be reviewed and approved by the ESPP Board of Tutors. The plan of study is to be revised and reviewed at the end of the junior year. 
    2. Course Substitutions. Students interested in substituting a course in place of the above requirements should consult their concentration adviser and submit a petition to the Head Tutor. 
Honors Requirements: 14 courses (56 credits)  
  1. Required courses: 
    1. Same as Basic Requirements
    2. Same as Basic Requirements
    3. Same as Basic Requirements
    4. Same as Basic Requirements
    5. Same as Basic Requirements
    6. Same as Basic Requirements
    7. Same as Basic Requirements
    8. Same as Basic Requirements
    9. ESPP 99. Senior Tutorial/Thesis - 2 courses 
  2. Tutorials: 
    1. Junior Year: ESPP 90 Seminar required of all concentrators 
    2. Senior Year: ESPP 99 Senior Tutorial/Thesis 
  3. Thesis: Required. Written as part of ESPP 99. 
  4. General Examination: None. 
  5. Other Information: Same as Basic Requirements. 
ADVISING 
At the beginning of the first term of concentration, the Head Tutor assigns each student to one of the faculty members of the ESPP Board of Tutors who will act as their concentration adviser. These assignments are based on the student's interests and their current intended field of specialization.  
For many students, their interests and planned field of specialization will evolve over time. We view this evolution as an integral part of the ESPP advising process. If desired, students may be subsequently re-assigned to an adviser more appropriate for the student's developing field of specialization. 
Students are expected to meet individually with their adviser at least once each term to discuss their plan of study and their resulting course selections, research opportunities, and other academic matters. However, students are encouraged to meet with their advisers more often throughout the year as their interests and desired field of specialization develops. Students may also seek advice from any member of the Board of Tutors in Environmental Science and Public Policy. 
 
RESOURCES 
The concentration’s physical and administrative home is located in the Harvard University Center for Environment. The Center serves the larger Harvard community and provides a focus for interdisciplinary, cross-faculty research and education. The center draws its strength from faculty members and students from across the University and complements the environmental education and research activities of the community of scholars based in Harvard’s academic units. Stewarded by the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, the Center is designed to serve the entire Harvard community by developing and facilitating projects and activities in the areas of environmental education, research, and outreach—adding the value of an integrated, collaborative approach to traditional academic pursuits. 
The Center’s website www.environment.harvard.edu provides a wealth of information resources, including: an on-line guide to environmental studies; courses; student groups; faculty and researchers; centers at Harvard; and electronic list serves for environmental events. The Center also supports a series of distinguished lectures, colloquia, and other events throughout the calendar year. 
 
HOW TO FIND OUT MORE 
Additional information may be obtained from the Head Tutor, Professor N. Michele Holbrook (holbrook@oeb.harvard.edu) , or Ms. Lorraine Maffeo, Program Administrator, 26 Oxford Street, Fourth Floor, (617-496-6995, maffeo@fas.harvard.edu), or by visiting www.espp.fas.harvard.edu
 
ENROLLMENT STATISTICS
Number of Concentrators as of December
Concentrators
2008
2009
2010
2011
2012
2013
2014
2015
2016
2017
2018
2019
Environmental Science and Public Policy
52
45
48
40
38
33
36
49
47
48
49
42
Environmental Science and Public Policy + another field
2
1
3
5
4
2
3
4
5
5
5
3
Another field + Environmental Science and Public Policy
3
2
1
1
0
0
0
0
4
2
4
7