What Does it Look Like to Study Environmental Science & 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 and provide opportunities to make a positive impact on nature and society. Our 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 our own federally protected 250-acre nature preserve, access to thousands of more acres of the Balcones Canyonlands Preserve and National Wildlife Refuge, and our 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 program 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 NaturalistTM program.
The mission of the ESC program is to develop competent environmental stewards and conscientious citizens in an experience-based environment.
The ESC program recognizes that while environmental knowledge and skills are necessary for a productive environmental career, students create the greatest benefit for the natural world when they feel a deeper sense of connection to it.
Our graduates will have impressive resumes filled with skills and experiences while also being 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 ESC program believes extends to God’s non-human creatures and places as well.
With that, the overarching goal of the ESC program is to help our 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 experiential academic programming.
Full articulation of the ESC mission, vision and strategies is found in the ESC Program Handbook.
Curriculum Overview for an Environmental Science & Conservation Degree
The ESC program offers a Bachelor of Science (BS) and a Bachelor of Arts (BA) in Environmental Science and Conservation, as well as a minor and several non-credit “Career Pathways.”
The BS is a more technical degree, requiring students to take additional science, math and technology courses compared to the BA. Students interested in fieldwork that focuses on plants, animals and water should consider the BS.
The BA 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 provides students from a wide range of majors the basic knowledge and skills necessary to enter the environmental field.
Career Pathways don’t appear on a transcript, but they help students focus their efforts when preparing to enter certain career fields. The ESC program offers Career Pathways in Wildlife Biology, Ranger and Field Agent, and Environmental Law. Students on the Wildlife Biology and Ranger/Field Agent Pathways are given priority placement into the Concordia Ranger program.
All ESC courses are project-based, and students spend significant time in the Concordia Preserve.
Here are some highlighted courses:
ESC 3340 Wildlife Management and ESC 3350 Watershed Management: Students in these courses work with our Office of Environmental Stewardship and Travis County Natural Resources to manage the on-campus habitat for the endangered golden-cheeked warbler and the threatened Jollyville Plateau salamander.
ESC 3306 Natural Resources Conservation: This course covers 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 NaturalistTM Certification: Students may earn course credit by certifying through the Texas Master NaturalistTM program, a statewide volunteer organization managed by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and the Texas AgriLife Extension. Concordia’s chapter (the Balcones Canyonlands Chapter) is the state’s first collegiate chapter.
- Four-year ESC students complete approximately 600 hours of career development outside of the classroom as part of a professional portfolio
- Earn hours through on-campus positions, such as Concordia Rangers or Selah Scholars
- ESC courses follow project-based curriculum that requires students to solve real-world problems
- Significant portion of each class is spent in the Concordia Preserve
- ESC program partners with Westcave Preserve to teach certain classes and provide internship opportunities for ESC majors
- Environmental Consultant
- Environmental Educator or Interpretive Specialist
- Environmental Lawyer
- Game Warden
- Natural Resources Manager
- Park Ranger
- Recycling and Waste Management Specialist
- Renewable Energy Specialist
- Sustainability Consultant
- Water Quality Scientist
- Wildlife Biologist
Why should I study Environmental Science & Conservation 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 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 Environmental Science & Conservation?
The economy of the future will be low-carbon and focused on protecting and restoring natural ecosystems. As our 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, Research and, on occasion, Zombie Apocalypse, with more topics to come. Other departments offer environmental and nature courses and will offer more in the future.