What are the impacts of climate change and how will different interventions curb it?
Explore your options — classes, internships, research and study abroad. Find what interests you, discover what you love, and create a major experience that jumpstarts your future.
Use your foundational studies in biology, chemistry, mathematics and analysis to inform and solve critical environmental issues related to climate change. Conduct one-on-one research and apply geographic information systems as you develop solutions to this existential threat.
You’ll study the impacts of climate change on ecosystems in Texas and around the world, with extensive field experience locally and beyond. When you graduate, you will be able to identify critical components of climate change issues, analyze them and offer sustainable solutions.
What do our graduates do?
Students who earn this degree will be prepared for a variety of careers, as well as graduate school. Potential careers include:
- Natural resource management with federal, state and public agencies
- Sustainability specialists with private corporations
- Public policy advisory positions
- Excellent preparation for a variety of graduate programs
The Classroom and Beyond
The major in Environmental Biology and Climate Change will prepare you to use science to tackle the world’s most pressing environmental problem. Austin is within 60 miles of half of Texas’ major ecosystems, and local field sites and reserves offer opportunities to study the ecology of these systems on day trips. As part of your curriculum, you’ll also choose from among several classes that immerse you in different ecosystems through longer expeditions farther afield. And you can get involved on campus in clubs that focus on science research, conservation and caring for the earth.
In Ecology, you’ll take two or more field trips to different ecosystems such as the Wichita Mountains of southwestern Oklahoma, the Four Corners of the U.S. Southwest or the Texas coast.
Entomology, which focuses on the evolutionary adaptations and biodiversity found among insect groups, includes a field-based collection component. You’ll travel to different sites and learn how to collect, preserve, and identify insects. You may study how the density of a particular grass changes between Austin and the border or examine the differences between the stands of loblolly pines in the Lost Pines region just east of Austin and the denser pine forests of East Texas.
A hallmark of the Environmental Biology and Climate Change major is the course in Expeditionary Ecosystem Studies, in which you’ll go on a two- or three-week expedition to a completely different ecosystem to public lands in the Intermountain West states of Arizona, New Mexico, Nevada and/or Utah.
All Environmental Biology and Climate Change students will complete at least a year of research individually mentored by a professor. You’ll have the opportunity to complete field work at Blunn Creek, right next to campus; at Wild Basin, an urban preserve in West Austin; or at the St. Edward’s ecolab in Spicewood, in the Hill Country. Along with fellow students, you’ll attend professional conferences to network with professionals in the field, learn about others’ research and present your own work.
Outstanding students complete Research Experiences for Undergraduates, in which they join the lab of a professor at a major research university over a summer. These competitive experiences, funded by the National Science Foundation, introduce you to research with different mentors and help you evaluate whether a research career is right for you.
As a student in the Environmental Biology and Climate Change program you are afforded access to the funding programs, including paid internships, offered exclusively to STEM students at St. Edward’s University by the Institute for Interdisciplinary Science (i4). For more information on these programs please visit the Institute for Interdisciplinary Science (i4).
Students for Sustainability educates the St. Edward’s community about eco-friendly practices and works with the St. Edward’s administration to implement environmental initiatives. Members help maintain the campus garden, learn about biking and public transportation, encourage fellow students to reduce their use of plastic water bottles, and have clothing swaps and upcycled craft nights.
The St. Edward’s chapter of the Texas Academy of Science supports student research, including presentation and publication opportunities. Members also tutor in the sciences and complete other service projects.
Students with strong academic achievement in the sciences are eligible to join the St. Edward’s chapter of Beta Beta Beta, the National Biological Honor Society.
You can contribute to the launch of new organizations like the St. Edward’s student chapters of the Ecological Society of America and The Wildlife Society.
You also can apply to join the Natural Sciences Living Learning Community your freshman year. Members of the LLC live together in the same residence hall and take a fall-semester science course together. They also arrive on campus before school begins to learn research tools and methodologies so they can join research projects early in their college career. LLC members participate in regular community dinners and recreational activities to relax and have fun together.
Major Requirements: The BS in Environmental Biology and Climate Change requires 71 hours of major courses, including courses in subjects such as Bioinformatics, Chemistry, Environmental Science, Mathematics and Philosophy.
General Education Requirements: In addition to the major program requirements, all students must satisfy the general education requirements. Talk with your success coach and faculty advisor about which courses are right for you.
Examples of major courses:
- General Biology I and II
- Environmental Conservation / Climate Change
- Terrestrial and Plant Ecology
- Expeditionary Ecosystem Studies
- General Chemistry I and II
- Climate Change Science, Impacts & Responses
- Biological Programming
Examples of electives:
- Vertebrate Biology
- Environmental Controversies in Austin
- Environmental Politics and Policy
View or download the full degree plan for the BS in Environmental Biology and Climate Change degree plan (PDF)