Environmental Science

Environmental Science draws on basic knowledge of the physical, chemical, biological, and quantitative aspects of natural systems. The knowledge of how natural systems work is applied to solving problems largely created by human activities. Often these problems are represented by disturbances in the functioning of natural systems as humans alter their own life-support systems — the air, the water and soil. The scale of disturbance ranges between molecular and cellular to individuals, populations, ecosystems, and regional and global levels.

Western’s Environmental Science program is committed to creating a space for students to value, change, and study the environment. Students in the program gain proficiencies in applying quantitative and critical thinking skills to environmental issues, writing and speaking effectively to professional audiences about issues in the field, using theoretical knowledge of environmental sciences in real world applications, and incorporating multiple disciplines into environmental sciences.

The Department of Environmental Sciences is affiliated with three research institutes:

These institutes support and promote Western’s instructional and research programs in the Environmental Science Department, providing access to laboratory facilities, instruction, and specialized research equipment for Huxley students and others within the scientific community.

Western’s Environmental Science Department is part of Huxley College of the Environment.


“I’m currently in a class which is exclusively field-based, meaning we’re learning hands-on nearly all the time. On the second day of class we drove up into the mountains and learned how to set up carnivore detection devices, and we’re learning how to conduct our own wildlife research projects from start to finish. So far it’s been an invaluable experience.” –Anna Freedman-Peel

Beyond the Classroom

Student work is received and recognized from national and statewide organizations for exceptional problem-solving solutions that use geographic information systems and computer-aided design. Some students are published in The Planet, a student-run publication that combines the environmental focus of Huxley College with the writing and reporting skills of journalism to produce an award winning environmental magazine.

Huxley hosts the Huxley College Speaker Series, which brings guest lecturers to Western’s campus to address topics of contemporary environmental concern in the region and beyond. The speaker series is intended to bring together environmentally-minded members of the Western and Bellingham communities. Students and Bellingham community members also volunteer for LEAD (Learning Environment Action Discovery), a program designed to help restore native environments and increase biodiversity.

Bringing together even broader communities, Huxley College students have the opportunity to take environmental studies classes in Europe and other parts of the world through a number of faculty-led study abroad summer programs.

Careers and Graduate Studies

The Environmental Science major will acquire the scientific and problem solving skills needed to conserve and restore the natural environment. Students of Environmental Science will go directly into an environmental science career or on to graduate school to further their study.

Sample Careers

  • Wildlife Biologist
  • Naturalist
  • Endangered Species Biologist
  • Environmental Inspector
  • Environmental Scientist
  • Fisheries Biologist
  • Marine Biologist
  • Safety and Health Specialist
  • Park Ranger
  • Aquatic Toxicologist
  • Wetlands Ecologist
  • Biological Survey
  • Water Resources Specialist
  • Environmental Chemist
  • Soil Conservation Specialist

Department of Environmental Science

Environmental Science, BS

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