The GECS core requirements provide all majors with a solid background in the environmental and social aspects of our changing world. Students choose either the Environmental Science or Social Science concentration for more in-depth study in their area of greater interest. Both concentrations require courses in the natural and social sciences and humanities; the proportion depends on the concentration.
All GECS majors are also required to develop a focus area or theme around which to center their choice of elective courses. Examples of focus areas include:
- Climate, oceans and energy
- Water and soil
- Ecology and conservation
- Poverty and development
- Policy and governance
- Environmental health
A key component of the GECS major is the Senior Capstone Seminar, involving the research, planning, and execution of a tangible sustainability project on or off campus. The capstone experience provides the academic space, time, and mentoring for the student to integrate and synthesize the knowledge and skills obtained during the previous three years into a coherent framework in preparation for life and work after graduation.
To further enhance the students’ perspective of the global nature of the issues and differences in world views of different cultures, students are encouraged to include study abroad opportunities in their course of study. In some cases, study abroad programs may offer a suitable research or internship experience that can count as the applied experience, but prior approval is required.
The other culminating experience is the applied experience. The experience involves at least 80 hours of environmental or sustainability-related work, either in the form of research or an internship. The work can be paid or unpaid, for credit or not for credit, and can take place during the fall or spring semesters or during the summer, either through JHU or through an outside organization, either in the U.S. or abroad.
During the semester in which the applied experience is undertaken and completed, the student must register for AS.271.509 Applied Experience. This 1-credit course requires a weekly journal, documentation of hours worked, a research or reflection paper (as appropriate), and a poster presentation describing the highlights of the research or internship experience. The poster will be presented near the end of the semester or academic year as part of a showcase of the applied experiences pursued by GECS students. Credit for AS.271.509 will not be given retroactively for prior experiences and must be registered for concurrently with the applied experience hours worked.
Completion of the major requires a total of 65-66.5 credits if the Social Science concentration is chosen and 71-76.5 credits if the Environmental Science concentration is chosen. Both concentrations share a series of core courses, including an environmental core and foundations courses in a range of disciplines. All courses must be taken for a letter grade, except for AS.271.509 Applied Experience which is graded satisfactory/unsatisfactory, and students must receive a grade of C- or better to apply courses toward the major.
Graduates of the GECS program will demonstrate the ability to:
- Explain the fundamental principles and concepts of the natural, social sciences, and humanities that underlie issues of global environmental change and sustainability.
- Integrate learning and perspectives from multiple disciplines to address environmental issues.
- Investigate and solve problems through the collection and analysis of data.
- Critique the underlying assumptions, evidence, and arguments made by others.
- Communicate effectively about environmental issues visually, orally, and in writing.
- Collaborate productively with community partners on an environmental problem of local significance.
- Work effectively as a member of a team.