50th Anniversary

Academics at Prescott College

Area of Study:
Environmental Studies & Sustainability

Learning constructive solutions to environmental problems

Area of Study:
Environmental Studies & Sustainability

Learning constructive solutions to environmental problems

The Environmental Studies and Sustainability curriculum centers on education in natural systems and processes of the Earth, and on the role of humans who both depend on and influence these systems and processes. The aim is to develop compassionate, informed, and responsible citizens who are prepared to offer constructive solutions to environmental problems, and to help heal relationships between people and nature.

Our approach advances understanding across many disciplines, including the biological, physical, and social sciences, and the humanities. Students use these insights to illuminate the interrelationships between human and non-human realms, meanwhile learning specific skills in critical thinking, in field and laboratory methods, and in oral and written communication. Faculty encourage students to develop a philosophical understanding of, and ethical stance regarding, human-nature interactions and relationships. Students develop the ability to apply their knowledge to real-world situations to prepare them for further education and meaningful employment.

Resident Bachelor of Arts

Ecological literacy forms an essential part of the foundation of any Environmental Studies and Sustainability Competence.  By its very nature, ecological literacy demands expansive, synthetic inquiry rather than narrow specialization – a searching for connections and wholes, rather than isolated parts. Ecology weaves together the earth and life sciences, providing vocabulary for studies of human society and human nature, as well as many of the concepts these studies address (or need to address).

Program courses offer one way to develop ecological literacy. Through activities inside and outside of the classroom, and through direct experience with nature, informed by reading and interaction with others, students advance their literacy throughout their time at the College.

We offer one Competence, "Environmental Studies and Sustainability." Although it is not required, you may choose an emphasis within your ESS Competence. Whether you do a general Environmental Studies and Sustainability Competence, choose to follow the guidelines of one of the emphases, or create your own competence (possibly interdisciplinary), the same level of rigor applies.

Students can consider formulating competences that bridge Environmental Studies and Sustainability with other realms of study. In some cases, formalized bridges already exist (ESS and Adventure Education); in others it is up to the student and the Individual Graduation Committee to develop a coherent, meaningful program. For example, students often bridge ESS and Cultural and Regional Studies or Arts & Letters.

Limited Residency Bachelor of Arts

Sustainability & Environmental Studies  is home for those students who are passionate about extending their knowledge and skills toward sustaining whole communities for generations to come. Students choose to focus on one of two distinct tracks, both rooted in a commitment to helping people understand and appreciate that their well-being is inextricably connected to the health of the natural world.

Prescott College Offers two tracks for Limited Residency Undergraduate students:

Sustainable Community Development Track

Environmental Studies Track

Limited Residency Master of Arts

Environmental Studies originated from the natural sciences, but has since expanded to include the social sciences, humanities, education, economics, design thinking, ethics, and justice. Through your studies in Environmental Studies, you can find limitless inspiration, innovation, and room for growth to improve our world, communities, and selves.

Master’s students create projects that are transdisciplinary, applied, and solutions-based and that focus on real-world issues that matter to them. Our program is specifically designed to be nimble, accommodating, and responsive to your diverse interests and needs. Upon graduation, you can contribute to, and create, ethical solutions and innovations that promote effective and responsible stewardship of our planet and its inhabitants.  

Through our program you will be prepared for and can gain positions throughout the broad field of Environmental Studies.  You can catalyze change through your work in the non-profit, corporate, and government sectors; create innovative programs in education, interpretation, and social services; and conduct research and affect policy about the management of natural resources and wildlife. The opportunity exists to impact society through the creation of environmental literature, photography, and film. You might help form collaborations between environmental and religious organizations or collaborate with indigenous groups in support of their autonomy, culture, and capacity. You will be given the skills to establish non-profits and international relief organizations, truly-green businesses, sustainable community master plans, community gardens, and community supported food cooperatives, or innovative start-up schools and place-based curricula that make a difference in your home communities.

Graduate Teaching Scholarships are available for students who wish to gain teaching experience and defray the cost of their Master’s program.  A complete description and application instructions can be found here.

Life & Career Outcomes

Life & Career Outcomes
  • Biologist
  • Ecological Designer
  • Ecologist
  • Environmental Attorney/ Lawyer
  • Environmental Educator
  • Environmental Lawyer
  • Field Biologist
  • Fisheries Ecologist
  • Forest Ranger
  • Geologist
  • High School Science Teacher
  • Marine Biologist
  • Marine Conservationist
  • Marine Policy Advocate
  • Museum Curator
  • Natural Resource Specialist
  • Preserve Manager
  • Seabird Ecologist
  • Sustainability Project Manager

Academic Resources

Academic Resources

Kino Bay Center for Cultural and Ecological Studies

Environmental Studies Students Watching Dolphins in Kino Bay

The Kino Bay Center is Prescott College’s field station on the shores of the Gulf of California in Sonora, Mexico. Each year the Kino Bay Center hosts over 450 researchers, students, resident fellows and community visitors from dozens of institutions and community groups from Mexico, the United States and other parts of the world.


The Kino Bay Center facilitates, supports and integrates collaborative efforts promoting sustainable use and conservation of resources in the culturally and biologically rich Midriff Island Region of the Gulf of California. The mission of the Kino Bay Center is to protect priority species and habitats through the integrated application of science, education, information exchange, and community participation. The Center provides high quality opportunities for experiential and field-based education to contribute to research and conservation in the region and to build capacity within local communities for participation in conservation and sustainable development. The Center promotes and models collaborations between people from different cultures and institutions to co-create solutions to complex conservation challenges. 

More Information

Natural History Institute

Natural History Institute Mural

The Natural History Institute at Prescott College is dedicated to the multi-disciplinary study of natural history. All students, visitors, and area residents are invited to utilize the Institute as a place to collaborate on projects, share information, pursue research questions and ecological curiosities, and become inspired to better know the world around them.

Resources offered to students and community patrons of the Natural History Institute include:

• Exhibits on art, science, and culture, including the Josephine Michell Arader Natural History Print Collection of historically significant natural history art
• Guest lectures
• Research support
• Outdoor programming
• Archives of field notes and slides from the binational Southwest
• Digital and physical collections of plant, insect, bird and rock specimens of the Mogollon Highlands and adjacent ecoregions

More Information Video: Natural History Institute Collections

River Studies and Leadership Certificate

The River Studies and Leadership Certificate is designed to offer undergraduate students—who have become inspired to join the next generation of river professionals—a foundation of knowledge, skills, and experience in river-based science, policy, conservation, education, and recreation.  Undergraduate students are awarded this certificate by the River Management Society after they have successfully completed a cogent package of river-focused coursework and a river-related professional project.

More Information

The Eco League

The Eco League Student Exchange offers undergraduate students access to study in environments ranging from the Pacific to Atlantic coasts and from the subtropics to the subarctic. Students in any field can take advantage of working with talented faculty in a broad array of disciplines at other institutions. The six small, student-centered colleges in the Eco League share the goals of seeking solutions to contemporary environmental problems and of raising environmental awareness. The institutions also share similar missions and values regarding social change and in preparing students to build sustainable communities.  The Student Exchange, which is for a maximum of two, non-consecutive semesters, is open to any student who has successfully completed at least his/her freshman year and who can clearly articulate in the application how he/she would benefit from this opportunity.

Eco League Member Institutions

Tuition & Fees

Tuition & Fees