Environmental Science and Management Major

Do you want to understand the functioning of our natural resources? Do you want to influence how air, water, and land are used and protected? Environmental Science and Management (ESM) majors will learn to solve environmental problems from an interdisciplinary perspective linking the natural and social sciences. By studying the physical, biological, and social components of environmental problems, students will understand the scientific basis for environmental decision making and the economic implications involved in management of the environment. The major offers a contemporary perspective for solving environmental problems and understanding human dimensions of the environment. Students gain exposure to real world problem solving and learn how to use cutting edge technology and tools. ESM is managed jointly by the Department of Environmental Science and Policy and the Department of Land, Air, and Water Resources. For information on careers and where our graduates have gotten jobs, check out this careers & internships page put together by the Internship & Career Center.

The ESM Major Tracks

In the major, students may specialize in one of six track, in which they will receive specialized training: (1) Climate Change & Air Quality, (2) Ecology, Biodiversity, & Conservation, (3) Geospatial Information Science, (4) Natural Resource Management, (5) Soils & Biogeochemistry, and (6) Watershed Science. We encourage students to work with the major and track advisers to guide them through the major and to help decide which track is the best fit.

Climate Change & Air Quality

The Climate Change & Air Quality track aims to train students in the physical and biological processes of global climate change and air quality. Courses cover foundations of climatology and atmospheric science, air quality, hydrology, interaction between vegetation and the atmosphere, biogeography and evolution, biomes, and environmental policy making. This track will prepare students for a broad range of environmental and policy positions in the public and private sectors, such as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, environmental consulting firms, and graduate school in a broad range of environmental topics. Track Leader: Dr. Shu Hua Chen shachen@ucdavis.edu.

Ecology, Biodiversity, & Conservation

This is our most popular track! The Ecology, Biodiversity, & Conservation track gives students a broad ecological training in preparation for careers in field ecology, or as biodiversity or conservation specialists. Beyond general environmental science the track provides a comprehensive training in different areas of ecology, some knowledge of organisms and their environments, and relevant conservation and policy courses. Courses include physical environmental sciences, public policy, evolution, genetics, biogeography, and a field course for hands on field experience of hypothesis testing in nature. UC Davis has more ecologists than any other institution in the world, and this track draws on this rich human resource. Track Leader: Dr. Susan Harrison spharrison@ucdavis.edu.

Geospatial Information Science

The geospatial information science track introduces students to computer-based analysis of geographic data and the theory and practice of aerial and satellite imagery, GIS, and spatial analysis, applied to natural resource assessment and monitoring human impacts on the environment. Student internships are encouraged and we can assist with locating an appropriate internship program. Graduates will be well equipped for land and resource management positions in industry, non-profit and government agencies, and for advanced studies in geography, ecology, environmental sciences, and management. Track Leader: Dr. Susan Ustin slustin@ucdavis.edu.

Natural Resource Management

The Natural Resource Management track has a strong social science focus. It assumes that most environmental problems are caused by mistakes in human behavior, and that better scientific information is but one of many factors affecting our ability to solve environmental problems. This track is geared towards those who are interested in working in policy-oriented areas roles in environmental affairs. Typical career tracks include working for federal, state, or local natural resources agencies, environmental consulting firms, governmental liaison offices of private corporations, or non-profit organizations addressing environmental issues. Track Leader: Dr. Mike Springborn mspringborn@ucdavis.edu.

Soils & Biogeochemistry

The Soils & Biogeochemistry track examines processes that govern the composition of the natural environment and the cycles of matter and energy through time and space. This track teaches scientific principles, ranging from the molecular to global scales, for managing soil, water, and plant resources. Courses include land use, GIS, remote sensing, soil and ecosystem management, nutrient management, soil and water pollution remediation and global change. Graduates are qualified for managerial and technical positions in advising, planning, land appraisal, research, and teaching. The track also provides excellent preparation for graduate programs in soil science, environmental toxicology, hydrology, ecology, and plant sciences. Track Leader: Dr. Randy Dahlgren radahlgren@ucdavis.edu.

Watershed Science

The Watershed Science track trains students in the principles of hydrology, climate as it relates to water, water law, public policy, and links to ecology and soils. Water is a key resource in the western U.S. and in much of the developed world. Watersheds are the natural geographic unit for water management and science, and encompases issues like water quality, water supply, flood management, biodiversity, and climate change. Students in this track are likely to pursue careers in water and watershed management, environmental consulting, government agencies, and environmental non-profits. The track is also very good preparation for graduate school in ecology, hydrology, environmental policy, or especially interdisciplinary environmental management programs. Track Leader: Dr. Mark Grismer megrismer@ucdavis.edu.