Environmental Science

This is content from the Catalog 2019–2020 back issue. Please visit the current catalog for current information.

Program Chairs:

Website: hilo.hawaii.edu/depts/geography/


The mission of the interdisciplinary Environmental Science BS Program is as follows:

  • to promote a multidisciplinary analysis of environmental issues
  • to enhance students’ awareness of the complexity and seriousness of regional and global environmental problems
  • to capitalize on UH Hilo’s unparalleled natural and cultural environment to foster an understanding vital for sustainability of natural systems, especially island ecosystems

Environmental Studies/Science is an overlap of many academic fields, such as biology, geology, chemistry, marine science, geography, anthropology, agriculture, political science, economics, and sociology. This degree provides an innovative multidisciplinary approach for undergraduate students interested in a broad span of environmental topics. At the same time, it provides a strong foundation in major concepts in a variety of fields. A certificate in Environmental Studies is also offered.

Program Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion of the B.A. in Geography or the B.S. in Environmental Science, students will be able to:

  • Demonstrate mastery of core concepts in human and environmental aspects of Geography (Program Learning Outcome—Mastery of Key Concepts in Discipline).
  • Evaluate key patterns in spatial data and identify technologies and research techniques to interpret data for later analysis and problem solving (Scientific and Quantitative Reasoning; Critical Thinking).
  • Interpret and critique professional (academic and non-academic) literature (Information Literacy; Critical Thinking).
  • Present research results in visual, oral and written formats to a range of audiences, including academic, professional and community (Communication; Collaborative Skills, Civic Participation and Applied Learning).
  • Perform quantitative and qualitative analysis to interpret environmental and social data and address environmental problems (Scientific and Quantitative Reasoning, Human Interaction and Cultural Diversity).
  • Develop and carry out social/natural science research in a range of interdisciplinary fields related to the majors (Collaborative Skills, Civic Participation and Applied Learning).

Program Goals

  • To educate students to become environmental professionals
  • To equip students with the tools to express themselves within both the scientific and larger society
  • To expose students to methods and techniques used by natural and social sciences to identify, analyze, and interpret environmental issues
  • To foster interdisciplinary approaches to environmental problem solving

The curriculum is designed to stimulate students’ thinking about interdisciplinary connections on contemporary environmental issues. Students will be encouraged to view themselves as major participants and to think critically about their own lives in the context of earth systems and environmental issues.