The natural systems that make up the Earth's environment are in continuous mutual interactions. These interactions occur on spatial scales that range from microscopic to global and on temporal scales that range from fractions of a second to million of years.
Scientific efforts to understand how the activities of humans affect the workings of such a complex arrangement must properly involve the identification and study of the fundamental processes operating at present in the Earth's environment. Furthermore, to apply such knowledge with skill, insight and perspective, information must also be acquired on the extent to which ancient environmental conditions on the Earth may have differed from those observed today, and how such changes affected life on the planet. An intellectual and practical scientific problem of such vast scope must be approached in an interdisciplinary manner.
This interdisciplinary requirement is important not only for students who will become professional environmental scientists, but also for those who want a solid scientific foundation for post-graduate training in environmental law, public policy, business and other fields.
The Environmental Science Program at Southern Methodist University includes a set of core courses that provide students with the necessary background in chemistry, earth science, physics, biology and mathematics to move into an earth science, chemistry, or biology emphasis in the upper division courses.
Students choose an emphasis in either, Earth Science, Chemistry or biology for upper level course work. Students with either emphasis will come together their senior year in a multidisciplinary seminar in Environmental Science. Total credits required for a Bachelors of Science in Environmental Science are 122, including 30 credits in General Education, 24 credits as Free Elective (could be 27 credits if the Information Technology requirement is satisfied with the Environmental Sciences Program), 50 credits of core courses, and 18 credits of Environmental Science electives taken with an emphasis in Earth Science, Chemistry or Biology.