What Does it Look Like to Study Environmental Science and Conservation at Concordia?
A degree in Environmental Science and Conservation (ESC) will prepare you for a career in a diverse and increasingly important field. The environmental sciences are consistently rated among the fastest-growing career fields in the world and provide opportunities to make a positive impact on nature and society. The program teaches students to protect human health and the environment while working toward a fair and just society and a sustainable economy.
The ESC program is immersive and experiential. As a student in the program, you will have numerous opportunities to apply knowledge through class exercises, volunteer work and internships. With Concordia’s 250-acre, federally-protected nature preserve, access to thousands of more acres of the Balcones Canyonlands Preserve and National Wildlife Refuge, and the University’s world-renowned Friesenhahn Cave, the ESC program is uniquely situated to provide you with the knowledge, skills and experiences necessary to make a difference in the world.
ESC majors actively manage Concordia’s natural resources through paid and volunteer positions in the ESC Department and Office of Environmental Stewardship. Majors may also participate in the Sustainability Club and the Balcones Canyonlands Master Naturalist, the state’s first collegiate chapter of the respected Texas Master Naturalist program.
The mission of the ESC program is to develop competent environmental stewards and conscientious citizens in an experience-based environment.
Concordia recognizes that while environmental knowledge and skills are necessary for a productive environmental career, students can make truly significant contributions to protecting the natural world only when they feel a deeper sense of connection to it.
Our graduates will have impressive resumes filled with skills and experiences, and they will be able to articulate a deeper connection to and empathy for the places and creatures they protect. This is consistent with the Christian value of neighborly love, which the Department of ESC believes extends to God’s non-human creatures and places as well.
With that, the overarching goal of the program is to help ESC majors cultivate love for the work they do and the people, places and creatures they help protect. That journey begins on the beautiful Concordia campus and extends into the local community through robust, experiential academic programming.
Full articulation of the ESC mission, vision and strategies is found in the ESC Program Handbook.
Curriculum Overview for a Degree in Environmental Science and Conservation
All ESC courses are project-based, and students spend significant time in the Concordia Preserve. Four-year ESC students complete approximately 600 hours of career development outside of the classroom as part of a professional portfolio. Students may earn some of those hours through on-campus positions with the Concordia Rangers, Selah Scholars and more.
The Bachelor of Science (BS) in ESC is a more technical degree, requiring students to take additional science, math and technology courses compared to the Bachelor of Arts (BA). Students interested in fieldwork that focuses on plants, animals and water should consider the BS.
The BA in ESC is a more flexible degree, providing a firm foundation in the natural and physical sciences while offering more course options in the social sciences and humanities than the BS. Students interested in working with people to solve environmental problems should consider the BA.
The Minor in ESC provides students from a wide range of majors with the basic knowledge and skills necessary to enter the environmental field.
ESC offers several career pathways that don’t appear on a transcript but help students focus their efforts when entering certain career fields. Concordia currently offers pathways in Wildlife Biology, Ranger/Field Agent, and Environmental Law. Students on the Wildlife Biology and Ranger/Field Agent pathways are given priority placement into the Concordia Ranger program.
Here are some highlighted courses:
ESC 3340 Wildlife Management and ESC 3350 Watershed Management: Students work with the Office of Environmental Stewardship and Travis County Natural Resources to manage the on-campus habitat for the endangered Golden-cheeked Warbler and threatened Jollyville Plateau salamander.
ESC 3306 Natural Resources Conservation: The course provides students a survey of topics in natural resources conservation, including wildlife, water, forestry, soils and agriculture. Students also receive an introduction to environmental ethics and environmental sociology.
ESC 1201 and 1202 Texas Master Naturalist Certification: Students may earn course credit by becoming a certified master naturalist through the Texas Master Naturalist program, a statewide volunteer organization managed by Texas Parks and Wildlife and the Texas AgriLife Extension.
- On-campus environmental stewardship organizations that offer career-development opportunities
- Project-based curriculum that requires students to solve real-world problems
- Significant portion of each class spent in Concordia Preserve
- Partnership with Westcave Preserve to teach certain classes and provide internship opportunities for ESC majors
- Environmental Consultant
- Environmental Education Officer
- Environmental Lawyer
- Game Warden
- Nature Conservation Officer
- Park Ranger
- Recycling and Waste Management Officer
- Renewable Energy Officer
- Sustainability Consultant
- Water Quality Scientist
- Wildlife Biologist
Why should I study Environmental Science and Conservation (ESC) at Concordia?
Concordia offers unparalleled field experience opportunities for students in the environmental sciences. Students will study in and help manage Concordia’s nature preserve, and they will enjoy access to a huge variety of environmental employers and outdoor activities in the Austin area.
Why will future employers care that I studied ESC?
The economy of the future will be low-carbon and focused on protecting and restoring natural ecosystems. As society transitions to green technologies and sustainable systems, students with a knowledge of interdisciplinary environmental issues will be well-positioned for success.
What kinds of courses are offered?
Other ESC courses include Introduction to Environmental Science, Geographic Information Systems, Environmental Education, Conservation Project, and Research. Other departments offer environmental and nature courses and will offer more in the future.