☰ In This Section

Major/Minor Image

Environmental Studies is a way to investigate how the world works and how people should fit into it in such a way that both people and the non-human world thrive. Students in Bethel’s Environmental Studies program are mentored toward a creation-sensitive life and a career in environmental stewardship. An interdisciplinary core of courses introduces students to scientific, political, ethical, and historical perspectives on the environment. The major provides a foundation for specifically focused graduate study as well as careers in many different sectors of our society, depending on the student’s interest and the curriculum you choose. At Bethel, we provide both a B.A. in Environmental Studies and a B.S. in Environmental Science so there’s a place both for the student interested in a more scientific approach and those who aren’t. This dual offering is unusual in a liberal arts university like ours. Environmental Studies is designed for those with a passion for creation stewardship and who would like to put their skills to work in a non-science oriented career such as business, art, writing, politics, education, or law.

Why should I study environmental studies?

Perhaps more than any other program at Bethel, Environmental Studies is strongly interdisciplinary, taking students into more traditional and non-traditional disciplines than any other major at Bethel. The interdisciplinary nature of the major reflects the complexity and interconnectedness of human interaction with the environment, which we best understand from a multi-directional approach.

We also maintain a strong evangelical foundation by discussing in every course how our Christian worldview affects our attitudes and actions toward our environment.

Students in our upper-level courses enjoy small class sizes that lend themselves to cooperative learning, small group collaborative projects, access to state-of-the-art equipment, and field work in local and even distant lakes, streams, woods, and prairies.

You’ll also have the opportunity to conduct research under the guidance of a faculty member so you’re prepared for further study if you choose.

We also highly value teacher effectiveness and student learning, and we do both in the most optimal ways.

What can I do with this degree?

  • Environmental education
  • Environmental advocacy
  • Environmental law
  • Environmental journalism
  • Green business
  • Organic agriculture
  • Environmental economics
  • Sustainability coordinator
  • Urban and regional planner

Actual jobs held by Bethel Environmental Studies/Science graduates include:

  • Aquatic specialist with the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency
  • Zoology data specialist at the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR)
  • Fisheries specialist with the Minnesota DNR
  • Manager of environmental education at the Oregon Zoo
  • Hydrologic technician at the U.S. Geological Survey
  • Education outreach director at the Au Sable Institute of Environmental Studies
  • Naturalist at the Wood Lake Nature Center
  • State policy community organizer for the Land Stewardship Project

What skills will I develop?

  • Asking and answering challenging questions
  • Observational skills
  • Critical thinking
  • Quantifying data
  • Presenting ideas both in writing and orally
  • How to test water quality
  • How to monitor bird and mammal populations
  • How to think holistically from an interdisciplinary approach
  • How to live sustainably in a complex world

You’ll also have the opportunity to participate in the R.E.A.L. Experience—a program specifically designed to help you gain the relevant, hands-on experience employers desire—so that when you graduate, you’ll be as impressive in practice as you are on paper.

What unique experiences or opportunities will I have?

Practical internships with local and national private and governmental environmental organizations and businesses. Bethel students have interned at places like:

  • International Wolf Center
  • Minnesota Zoo
  • Science Museum of Minnesota
  • Minnesota History Center
  • U.S. Forest Service
  • Wildlife Rehabilitation Center
  • Cedar Creek Ecosystem Science Reserve
  • U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
  • Restoring Eden
  • Minnesota DNR
  • Boundary Waters Experience
  • McNeely Conservatory
  • Sierra Club

Independent research projects under the guidance of a faculty mentor, from wildlife surveys of local wetlands and natural areas to analyses of inner-city access to locally grown foods, to strategies for controlling invasive plant species.

Access to the outstanding Au Sable Institute of Environmental Studies in the north woods, Costa Rica, and India, and on the Pacific coast.

Participation in the Creation Restoration club, one of the most active student organizations on campus, that carries out a variety of educational and campus stewardship activities. This club attracts students from all majors.

Academic Plans and Course Catalog

See plans


acres of on-campus outdoor ecosystems


of first-year students who said they would probably or definitely go to Bethel if they had to start over again

Become a Bethel Student