2022-2023 Catalog 
    Apr 24, 2024  
2022-2023 Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Environmental Science

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The undergraduate major in Environmental Science is an integrated interdisciplinary curriculum of basic science, designed to give students a broad perspective on the environment. Courses in the major concentrate on understanding the current environmental issues facing human society through a diversity of lecture, laboratory and field experiences. The curriculum also provides the basic course work necessary for admission to graduate school programs. Electives may be used to enhance preparation for specific graduate programs.


A common core of science course work is introduced during the freshman and sophomore years regardless of specific career goals. The common core of courses complement each other and enhance a student’s understanding of environmental science.

The latest scientific concepts, techniques, and equipment are introduced in the courses.

A diversity of lecture, laboratory, and field courses reflect the breadth and depth of environmental science.

Research opportunities are provided to students as a program elective.

Students seeking specific career information are given appropriate counseling and referrals.

The application of science and technology to the environment has ethical components which are conveyed to students by faculty.

A sensitivity to our fragile environment is developed that fosters a commitment from students to be custodians for future generations.

Forthcoming Courses

The following courses are currently under review and subject to change.

Energy Technologies (4)
This course introduces energy technologies and their role in society while developing basic tools for a career in energy - technical understanding, calculation skills, data sources, and historical knowledge. Students will learn fundamentals of energy science and technology, energy resources and markets, and environmental aspects of energy supply and demand in the context of topical modules on renewable energy, energy efficiency, electric power, fossil fuels, nuclear power, transportation, and buildings.

Electricity Markets (2)
This course provides an in-depth examination of energy markets, focusing on electrical markets, and recent changes in those markets due to evolving regulations, technologies, and financing options. Topics covered include: how electrical markets currently work - wholesale and retail; how they may look in the future; benchmarking; market impediments to the evolution of the low-carbon grid; competitive dynamics, pricing, and energy markets; and energy brokering. Assignments will consist of problems sets, an exam, and an essay on an aspect of electricity markets.

Energy Industry Strategy and Policy (4)
This course explores how the policy landscape impacts organizations and the drivers for change from different perspectives. It will review the major U.S. and California policies and regulations shaping the energy landscape with a focus on electricity. It will explore how current policies and regulations influence and direct evolving energy systems. Topics covered include the role of agencies (The PUC, Energy Commission, FERC, etc.), politics, rate design, codes and standards, permitting, drivers for change to the low-carbon grid, and regulatory impediments to change. It will also consider how current and potential climate change regulations impact the evolution of the grid.

Writing and Presentations (2)
This 2-unit course will help students develop their writing and presentation skills focusing on styles useful in the energy industry. It will cover different styles used in different disciplines including legal, engineering, and economic. Assignments will include multiple drafts of a short written assignment and multiple iterations of a presentation.

Leadership, Collaboration and Innovation (2)
This course will cover a variety of aspects of communication and leadership skills relevant to energy professionals. Topics covered include customer engagement, stakeholder engagement, change management with regulatory constraint, strategic thinking, and corporate strategy.

Energy Law (3)
This course will provide an in‑depth review of the basic principles of energy law, with a particular focus on the regulated electricity and natural gas industries. It will survey both federal and state law, and will cover important federal-state jurisdictional issues grounded in the Commerce Clause and Supremacy Clause of the U.S. Constitution. Students will learn basic principles of the regulatory scheme in the United States, including cost-of-service ratemaking, modern market-based rates, and experiments (not all of them successful) with deregulation. A segment of the course will cover key developments in the emerging area of renewable energy.

Speaker Series (1)
This course will involve a collection of four lectures from individuals working in various aspects of the energy field, focusing on renewable energy and electrical provision, efficiency, and conservation. Assignments will include commentary on each presentation.

Master’s Project or Internship (4)
Students will have an option of engaging in an internship in the energy sector or conducting a research project on some aspect of the energy industry. Students who do an internship will be expected to write an approximately 20-page paper on what they learned during the internship. Students who choose the research option will write an approximately 50-page paper. All students will be required to finish the program by giving a short presentation on their work at a final program event.


    Undergraduate Majors

    Undergraduate Minors

    Graduate Majors


    Dual Degrees

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