Student taking measurements in a lake

Environmental Studies

"I have found that my degrees in Environmental Studies/Science were very helpful to my job in land use planning. Topics such as Env. Law, and Government and Env. Policy helped provide an understanding of the foundations and history of the land use regulations I must now understand and navigate, while topics like Geology, Ecology, and River Systems etc.., have given me a fundamental understanding of the real world factors which necessitate the regulations and the science upon on which the policies are built." — Nate Joyner

Read about our Graduates


We are at a critical moment in human history where we are confronted with the challenge of sustaining the biosphere’s structure and processes while at the same time providing for the well-being of its burgeoning human population. At MCLA we prepare students to tackle these issues by providing a rigorous, hands-on education in the interdisciplinary field of environmental studies. Students take courses in the environmental studies, as well as from related disciplines including biology, chemistry, earth science, economics, political science, philosophy, and sociology. Berkshire County, one of the most biodiverse regions of New England and home to an incredible variety of natural habitats, serves as our outdoor learning classroom. Partnerships with state and local organizations provide students with opportunities to apply their knowledge towards addressing pressing local environmental needs as early as their freshman year of college. Taking courses in MCLA’s Core Curriculum allows students to see the world from multiple perspectives and prepares graduates to successfully adapt to the evolving demands of careers in the environmental field.

Our outdoor classroom

Professor and class in a river for field work

Why MCLA is Different

In the Environmental Studies Program at MCLA, students and faculty form a close community of scholars and practitioners. From your first semester, you will join a team of inquisitive and enthusiastic students who quickly get to know each other while wading through streams to contribute to long-term water quality monitoring programs, collecting local flora, doing surveys of red-backed salamanders, and banding migratory saw-whet owls. As early as during your first year in the program you’ll have the opportunity to hear from experts from throughout the region regarding current issues in sustainability and, at the same time, work on projects to design solutions to local environmental challenges.

student in the fieldStudents learn first-hand about natural processes and political structures by visiting the Everglades in Florida and the Adirondack Park as part of Environmental Studies courses that go on the road for days at a time. Many students have also independently studied in locations including Alaska, Montana, Kenya, Tanzania, Belize, Australia, Scotland, and the Czech Republic while completing the Environmental Studies Program.

The Environmental Studies Program at MCLA provides students with the knowledge, skills, and experiences they need to turn their passion for environmental issues into a career that they love.


For more information contact Department Chair Daniel Shustack.

View our brochure Envi Logo


Environmental Studies Degrees

The Environmental Studies Department at MCLA offers an Environmental Studies B.S. with a concentration in Environmental Science or Environmental Sustainability. Environmental studies students may also elect to complete a Minor in Earth Science. Students from other majors may complement their studies by completing a minor in Environmental Science, Environmental Sustainability, or Earth Science.

Details on course requirements for these academic programs can be found by following the links below.

Concentration in Environmental Science
Concentration in Environmental Sustainability



Dr. Julie Richburg, lead ecologist for inland natural resources at the Trustees of Reservations and an MCLA adjunct professor, leads an environmental studies class on a trip to the Trustees' Field Farm site. Read the full story.

Dr. Julie Richburg with MCLA students
The students I have come in contact with are really passionate about the environment.
Dr. Julie Richburg


V. Nault

In just her second year at MCLA, Veronica Nault ‘26 is one of five women to receive a statewide scholarship to support her college career.

Shannon Welch

On the afternoon of September 19th, the Environmental Science department’s Entering Student Seminar course, taught by Daniel Shustack — Professor of Environmental Science, met in CSI for pizza and a stimulating seminar titled “Life After College: Environmental Science” given by MCLA alumni, Shannon Welch ’22.

Abby Abrahamson

Abby Abrahamson '22 has always had a passion for the environment—and now she's helping instill that passion in others through her work with Bio4Climate.


A summer internship at National Grid led Eric Sniezek ’21 to extend his internship to a part-time job while he finishes college—and a potential future at the company, thanks to its Graduate Development Program.

Environmental Studies Alum

MCLA alumni regularly opt to stay in the Berkshires after graduation, launching careers here and often finding ways to stay involved at the College. Rachel Durgin '18, Adam Galambos '18, and Noah Henkenius '20 are among those alumni--all graduates of MCLA's Environmental Studies Program, they found full-time work in the area and continue to stay in touch with the ENVI community.

Environmental students kayak at a lake

MCLA's Environmental Studies students are venturing outside more than ever this year. A new partnership with the College's Environmental Studies Department and the City of North Adams has allowed the department to reserve the pavilion at Windsor Lake, just up the road from campus, for multiple Environmental Studies classes.

Students and professors at conference

You could spend hours in the woods tracking dark-eyed juncos—but where do you go from there? One good suggestion: The Northeast Natural History Conference. (But make sure to prepare a presentation first.)