Environmental Science

Environmental science focuses on the relationship between human activities and the environment. It helps us understand nature from a scientific point of view.

Why Choose Environmental Science?

Our Environment Matters

Environmental issues are some of the most important challenges facing the planet today. As our human population grows and technology advances, pressure increases on earth’s natural systems. We struggle with:

  • air, water and soil pollution
  • global warming
  • diminishing natural resources
  • waste disposal
  • climate change
  • deforestation
  • ecosystem and wildlife extinction

Metropolises like New York face unique problems. High population density and greenhouse gas emissions contribute to large scale pollution and sometimes illness. This is especially true in our home borough of The Bronx.

Career Opportunities

Environmental science is an exciting field where science is used to serve society. As environmental issues increase, there is also an increased demand for jobs in this field. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, jobs in this field are projected to grow 15% from 2012 to 2022. This is faster than the average for all occupations. In fact, many “green” jobs that are in demand today didn’t exist 10 years ago.

Hands-On Learning

As an environmental science student, you’ll get the chance to work with experts in the field both on and off campus. You will work closely with a faculty adviser on planning a course of study that meets your goals. You also will be encouraged to pursue an independent research project.

Manhattan College is home to the Center for Urban Resilience and Environmental Sustainability (CURES) which works to:

  • support research in the environmental science field
  • bring speakers to campus to promote discussion
  • partner with local outreach organizations
  • promote urban resilience, sustainability and environmental justice

CURES also hosts a summer internship in urban agriculture. Students learn about urban farming by maintaining the College’s rooftop garden on the Broadway parking garage. 

Off-campus, environmental science students have interned with organizations and departments such as:

  • New York City Department of Parks & Recreation
  • U.S. Department of Agriculture
  • Groundwork Hudson Valley
  • Environmental consulting firms
  • County health departments
  • Drinking water plants
  • County conservation districts
  • Botanical gardens and zoos
  • Meet an Environmental Science Major: Chris De La Bastide
    Environmental Science Major Student

    “I chose Manhattan because I wanted to go to a small school, and I wanted to know my professors and know a lot of people on campus. I liked the close-knit community I found at this school.

    "I started as a biology major because I love science, but I didn't know what I actually wanted to do with it — originally, I thought I would go into the medical field. Then I went to a lecture and I met Dr. Balkir, and she persuaded me to switch into environmental science. I like it because it's every science combined into one major. Right now I'm in a lot of chemistry classes — organic chemistry, inorganic chemistry — biology classes, ecology, and I took environmental science 101 last semester.

    "It’s nice to know that your professors actually know your name and care about your careers and well-being. Dr. Balkir has been extremely helpful to me with everything from choosing my classes, to steering me toward research programs and internships, to helping me decide what I want to do after college. In a way, she has been a mentor to me ever since I started here and is one of my favorite professors.

    "From an environmental point of view, it's kind of a big deal to be in New York City, because cities are, a lot of times, the major cause of different pollutions. In class, we do a lot of studies involving the city’s ports, the estuaries, wetlands and carbon dioxide emissions. We took a site visit to a wastewater treatment plant.

    "I am in NYWEA, which is the New York Environmental Water Association. This semester, I’m part of a NYWEA environmental design competition called WEFTEC with a few of my classmates. My team is making a water filtration system. We have to basically make a system, design experiments for it, make sure it works and present it this summer in New Orleans. The winner of the competition gets prize money and your invention is actually used for applications in the real world. We're in the preliminary stages now and we're brainstorming everything. But we're definitely looking forward to that.

    "You have to really like science to be an environmental science major, because it's a lot of work. But it's important to me because it's kind of my way of making a difference when I graduate. Career-wise, I want to work in site remediation, environmental remediation, cleaning oil spills or chemical spills. I really love animals, ecosystems and nature, and want to help preserve what's already there.”

What Will You Learn?

The environmental studies major combines classes from many disciplines and allows you to tailor coursework to your specific interests. Because many of your courses are science-based and take place in labs, you will learn to use lab and field instrumentation, computer applications and statistical techniques.

Regardless of how you customize your curriculum, you will:

  • Understand the theory of natural environment and its relationships with human activities
  • Learn how to approach environmental problems from different points of view
  • Develop critical thinking and problem-solving skills
  • Show your understanding of environmental issues through written and oral presentations
  • Conduct research, analyze data and evaluate results in partnership with professors

See degree requirements

What Will You Do?

Some environmental science students pursue graduate or professional degrees after graduation. Others enter the workforce in government, academic, private or nonprofit fields.