Why Study Environmental Studies at New College?

Founded in the early 1970s, New College's Environmental Studies AOC is one of the oldest of its type in the country. Our program is designed to help students focus on the major issues of our time, including climate change, sea level rise, food security, urban environments, governing the oceans, and environmental conservation and stewardship. As a student in our Environmental Studies program, you will work alongside expert faculty from a dozen disciplines to solve problems: testing water or soil quality, looking at policies regarding land and marine use, finding and identifying invasive species, exploring systems modeling, studying statistics used in data analysis and delving into environmental awareness.

Environmental Studies area of concentration

An interdisciplinary program, Environmental Studies draws students from varied backgrounds. Students bring skills from several disciplines to bear on questions regarding the relationship between people and the environment. The program is built around five key concepts: scale, systems, place, values, and change. Environmental problems (and solutions) occur at different scales from local to global. Ecological systems, political systems, and social systems interact in complicated ways. Sense of place, place attachment and values are key factors that must be incorporated in successful solutions to environmental problems. Understanding change and effecting change, are key skills for anyone working in the environmental field.

There has always been a risk in liberal arts education that knowledge will become detached from practice, that students will become intellectual jugglers of arcana, unable to affect the world. Recently undergraduate education has been criticized for disconnecting academic ideas and scholarship from social and environmental settings. The Environmental Studies Program seeks to “ground” students in two ways – first, by emphasizing demonstrated competence in real-world skills and second, by attempting to connect students with a landscape or community.

The faculty, students, and staff of Environmental Studies recognize the landscape of New College of Florida has a history. 


The space that we currently occupy, Sarasota, was acquired through the territorial dispossession of Native Nations, including the Seminole and Miccosukee, who have historical claims to this land. We acknowledge that our occupation of this land has come at the expense of their displacement. Indigenous people are a contemporary people who live throughout the state of Florida on reservations and in cities, and we acknowledge that they, as well as their ancestors, are our hosts.

As a public and intellectually rigorous institution, it is our duty to think critically about what our occupation of this land means. We must challenge ourselves to consider our relationship to the land and to ethically engage with the histories and cultures of Indigenous peoples who have called this land home. This is not the end of the conversation, but the beginning of a long and difficult process of mapping a more equitable future. 

What Can I Do with a Environmental Studies AOC?


Faculty are drawn from throughout the College. The Environmental Studies Area of Concentration is coordinated by the Environmental Studies Steering Committee.

What you’ll learn

The Environmental Studies Program emphasizes demonstrated competence in these areas: understanding of ecological theory; skill in descriptive observation; skill in quantitative measurement and statistical analysis; computer literacy and comfort with several types of software; communication skill in both writing and public speaking; service to the community; and local sense of place.

Environmental Studies students are drawn out of the classroom to consider complex issues that require multi-track thinking — analysis from the natural sciences and solutions from the social sciences and humanities. Students are encouraged to find a site or a community, distant or close at hand, that they will seek to understand, communicate about, and possibly improve. Naturally enough, many students find research topics or sites in southwest Florida, a provocative mix of burgeoning sprawl and shrinking natural areas. In addition, the campus itself has become an object of recent study, as the focus of several classes and tutorials. For example, one recent student project turned expanse of lawn into educational gardens.

The most successful students are able to align their personal academic interests with the needs of community, asking and answering questions that have real application. While most choose the Environmental Studies Area of Concentration, students can meet requirements in two areas for a double Area of Concentration such as Environmental Studies and Psychology. Students desiring to complete a joint disciplinary degree (e.g. Political Science/Environmental Studies) must complete the nine core requirements listed below, but not the additional five track courses.

Recent Theses

  • Multi-Criteria Suitability Analysis of Green Infrastructure Targeted at Groundwater Recharge and Flood Mitigation in Sarasota, FL
  • Managing Fisheries: a Case Study of Conceptual Frameworks for Policy Design
  • Sea Level Rise in Southwest Florida: An Economic Benefit-Cost Analysis of Policy Alternatives
  • Herbicide Resistant Crops: Can Genetic Engineering Contribute to Sustainable Agriculture?
  • Longleaf Pine: Florida’s Sunflower Forest
  • “Altering the Earth to Fit Vera,” Analyzing Sustainable Fashion Supply Chain Management
  • Pollination as an Economic Marketplace


Strategic Performance Management Manager
Pinellas County, Florida

Executive Director
Suncoast Waterkeeper, Sarasota, Florida

Principal Scientist

Maglio Christopher & Toale

Assistant Librarian
New College of Florida

More Information

Environmental Studies Program Curriculum

The Environmental Studies Program emphasizes demonstrated competence in these areas: ecological theory, descriptive observation; quantitative measurement and statistical analysis; computer literacy, communications skills, service to the community; and local sense of place.

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Undergraduate Program

New College of Florida offers more than 40 different majors in humanities, social sciences, and natural sciences, as well as a number of interdisciplinary concentrations.

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