At the Core of it All

The complex environmental problems facing humanity, including climate change, biodiversity loss, food insecurity, and environmental injustice, require an interdisciplinary approach to understand and solve them. By majoring or minoring Environmental Studies at HWS, you’ll learn the science behind pressing environmental issues, but you’ll also learn about these issues through a social science (e.g. economics, sociology, political science) and humanities (e.g. art, literature, film) lens. You’ll leave having developed your critical thinking and problem solving skills and prepared to make the future more sustainable and equitable for all.

Student Spotlight Buzzing to Help

James Anderson ’23, Maeve Reilly ’23, Katerina Yacoub ‘23

James Anderson '23, Maeve Reilly '23, Katerina Yacoub '23

To help bees, moths and other pollinators, three Hobart and William Smith students worked with the Colleges’ Office of Sustainability to create plant patches across campus. That work earned them the Action Program of the Year award at the IMPACT Conference.


and Research

Environmental Studies students looking to engage more in their work can study and complete Honors and research projects in their chosen topic with the guidance of a faculty member.

Past examples of Honors projects include:

  • Emily Frances Finnegan ’21: Food Insecurity and COVID-19: Pandemic Stories in Geneva
    Darrin Magee, Adviser
  • Sarah Kloos ’18: Same Same But Different: Investigating Claims to Authenticity of Vietnamese Cuisine in Cleveland, Ohio
    Robin Lewis, Adviser

Experiential EducationA REGIONAL LABORATORY

experiental learning

Sometimes, the most effective learning happens outside of the classroom, and when you are located in the Finger Lakes Region you have access to a wealth of resources. Expand your knowledge of climate change at the Finger Lakes Institute or study water quality aboard the William Scandling on Seneca Lake.

At Hobart and William Smith Colleges, learning goes beyond textbooks and classrooms. You’ll gain high-impact practical experience that deepens learning and opens doors.


The William Scandling

At 35-miles long, Seneca Lake is an invaluable living laboratory for Environmental Studies students. A well-equipped, 65-foot, HWS-owned vessel facilitates hands-on research throughout the lower Great Lakes region. Two solar farms generating electricity to the Colleges provide insights into sustainability and a nearby 108-acre field preserve offers rich biodiversity, including 60 ponds.

Global Education

No Borders: Global Education

Explore the marine ecology of Australia, examine the impact of economics on the evolution of wildlife in Costa Rica or research the impact of environmental policy on the lives of Brazilian women.

Wherever you go, our top-ranked global education program will allow you to apply classroom knowledge, develop cultural understanding and build global connections that expand your personal capacity and sense of purpose.


Investigate our stunning diversity of local ecosystems. Explore emerging environmental challenges while seeking avenues to a more sustainable future.

  • ENV 200 Environmental Science

    Learn the science behind and plausible solutions to pressing issues such as population growth, ecosystems, exotic species, resource use and their impact on the planet.

  • ENV 204 The Geography of Garbage

    This course will help introduce students to how waste is moved and help answer the question, “Where does our trash go?”

  • ENV 215 Environment and Development in East Asia

    Explore the side effects of the rapid growth in Asia and what actions have been taken to combat them in locations such as China, Hong Kong, Taiwan and South Korea.

Alum Impact A Career in Betterment

Christian Thiim ’17
Sustainable Agriculture Systems Extension Agent, Peace Corps

Christian came to HWS wanting to study Political Science. While trying to find his niche, he discovered all the opportunities the Colleges had to offer. Christian declared a second major in Environmental Studies and went on to start a career that would take him to South America and beyond.

Companies that Employ Our Graduates

  • U.S. Dept. of Agriculture
  • Watershed Agricultural Council
  • Cornell Cooperative Extension
  • NYS Office of Parks and Recreation and Historic Preservation
  • Chesapeake Bay Foundation
  • Clean Harbors Environmental Services, Inc.
  • Bermuda National Trust
  • Adopt a Stream
  • Maine Dept. of Environmental Protection
  • New Hampshire Dept. of Environmental Services

Universities where our graduates are studying

  • University of Vermont
  • Vermont Law School
  • Texas A&M
  • North Carolina State University
  • Tufts University
  • University of Michigan
  • Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies
  • Roger Williams University of Law