Environmental Conservation and Sustainability Major B.S.

Environmental Conservation and Sustainability student doing field work
Environmental Conservation and Sustainability Major B.S.

Program Overview

What is environmental conservation and sustainability? 

Students study environmental conservation and sustainability because they share a vision of a future where people live with respect for the Earth’s natural systems and each other. Examine the impacts of technology and human activity on the environment, learn the foundational principles of sustainability, and gain a deeper understanding of the complex relationships between human societies and the natural environment. As students in this program progress through their studies, they develop a focus area tied to an environmental issue, ecological system or natural resource. 

Why study environmental conservation and sustainability at UNH? 

Our graduates are environmental citizens, sustainability advocates and leaders for constructive change. We equip students not just with knowledge, but with the skills to solve real-world problems and work collaboratively with diverse interest groups to facilitate policy and action toward a sustainable future. Many students pursue international experiences, such as UNH’s EcoQuest program in New Zealand, add a minor or dual degree in areas such as international studies, or pursue research opportunities with our faculty or through UNH's undergraduate research opportunity programs. 

Potential careers 

  • Advocacy and regulatory affairs 
  • Conservation management 
  • Land-use analysis 
  • Natural resources management 
  • Environmental education and outreach 
  • Environmental consulting 
  • Sustainability management


Wendy Rose

Phone: (603) 862-3933
Office: Natural Resources & the Environment, James Hall Rm 114, Durham, NH 03824
Natural Resources and the Environment
114 James Hall
Durham, NH 03824

Phone: (603) 862-1022

Curriculum & Requirements

ECS Major Curriculum

The ECS major is comprised of 14 core requirements providing integrative courses in both environmental conservation and sustainability, along with a foundation in biology, ecology, physical and social science, and the basic tools and skills applied to problem solving. These core requirements are typically fulfilled in the first two years. Beginning in their junior year, ECS students, in consultation with their advisers, create a seven course focus area based on an ecological system or natural resource of their choosing. The focus area provides advanced study in ecology and natural resources; social sciences; tools, skills, and/or natural history and should reflect the student's interests and future goals. Additionally, each ECS student completes a practicum experience and a capstone option.

The ECS major provides the opportunity for students to gain a common foundation of knowledge and skills emphasizing integration and critical thinking, while allowing for sufficient flexibility to pursue their interests and passions within a large and complex field of study. The design of the curriculum will allow each student at least four, and as many as six, free electives, which they may fulfill as they choose. Many students pursue international experiences, such as the UNH EcoQuest program in New Zealand, add a minor or dual degree (such as the dual degree in international studies), and/or pursue research opportunities with our faculty or through another of UNH's undergraduate research opportunity programs.

ECS Major Requirements

Degree Core Requirements
Foundational Courses:
NR 435Contemporary Conservation Issues and Environmental Awareness4
NR 437Principles of Sustainability4
Natural Science:
BIOL 412Introductory Biology: Evolution, Biodiversity and Ecology4
NR 439Environmental Biology4
Ecological Principles: Select one of the following4
BIOL 541
General Ecology
NR 527
Forest Ecology
SAFS 502
Physical Science: Select one of the following4
NR 403
Introduction to Environmental Science
NR 458
The Science of Where
CHEM 403
General Chemistry I
CHE 410
Energy and Environment
ESCI 409
Geology and the Environment
CEE 520
Environmental Pollution and Protection: A Global Context
PHYS 401
Introduction to Physics I
Social Science:
Resource Economics:
EREC 411Environmental and Resource Economics Perspectives4
Environmental Ethics and Values: Select one of the following4
NR 701
Ecological Sustainability and Values
NR 784
Sustainable Living - Global Perspectives
SOC 565
Environment and Society
Natural Resources Policy: Select one of the following4
NR 602
Natural Resources and Environmental Policy
NR 662
Environmental Policy, Planning and Sustainability in New Zealand
Essential Tools and Skills:
Field Methods:
NR 415Natural Resources Field Methods2
Statistics: Select one of the following4
BIOL 528
Applied Biostatistics I
EREC 525
Statistical Methods and Applications
Geospatial Analysis:
NR 658Introduction to Geographic Information Systems4
Writing Skills: Select one of the following4
ENGL 502
Professional and Technical Writing
ENGL 503
Persuasive Writing
ENGL 521
Nature Writers
Presentation Skills: Select one of the following4
CMN 500
Public Speaking
THDA 520
Creative Drama
THDA 583
Introduction to Puppetry
THDA 522
Storytelling, Story Theatre, and Involvement Dramatics
THDA 624
Theatre for Young Audiences
Focus Area
Select seven total courses to create a focus area addressing an environmental issue, ecological system, or natural resource (see below) 128
Ecology and Natural Resources:
Select one to four courses: no more than one course may be at the 400 or 500 level. Additional courses must be at the 600 or 700 levels.
ESCI 405
Global Environmental Change
NR 433
Wildlife Ecology
NR 501
Studio Soils
NR 502
Forest Ecosystems and Environmental Change
NR 504
Freshwater Resources
NR 603
Landscape Ecology
NR 625
Physiological Ecology
NR 640
Wildlife Population Ecology
NR 642
Introduction to Biogeography
NR 650
Principles of Conservation Biology
NR 660
Ecology and Biogeography of New Zealand
NR 661
Restoration Ecology and Ecosystem Management in New Zealand
NR 663
Applied Directed Research in New Zealand
NR 664
Conservation Genetics
NR 706
Soil Ecology
NR 711
Wetland Ecology and Management
NR 729
NR 730
Terrestrial Ecosystems
NR 734
Tropical Ecology
NR 744
NR 751
Aquatic Ecosystems
NR 761
Environmental Soil Chemistry
NR 765
Community Ecology
NR 782
Forest Health in a Changing World
NR #783
Forest Communities of New Hampshire
MEFB 717
Lake Ecology
MEFB 725
Marine Ecology
MEFB 747
Aquatic Plants in Restoration/Management
SAFS 760
Insect Pest Management
ZOOL 628
Marine Invertebrate Evolution and Ecology
ESCI 750
Biological Oceanography
ZOOL 772
Fisheries Biology
MEFB 674
Ecology and Marine Environment
MEFB 702
Sustainable Marine Fisheries
Social Sciences
Select two to five courses: no more than one course may be at the 400 or 500 level. Additional courses must be at the 600 or 700 levels.
CEP 415
Community Development Perspectives
NR 507
Introduction to our Energy System and Sustainable Energy
NR 606
International Energy Topics
NR 643
Economics of Forestry
NR 662
Environmental Policy, Planning and Sustainability in New Zealand
NR 701
Ecological Sustainability and Values
NR 720
International Environmental Politics and Policies for the 21st Century
NR 724
Resolving Environmental Conflicts
NR 784
Sustainable Living - Global Perspectives
NR 787
Advanced Topics in Sustainable Energy
ANTH 680
ANTH 695
Globalization and Global Population Health
CEP 508
Applied Community Development
CEP 614
Fundamentals of Planning
CEP 673
Green Real Estate
TOUR 767
Social Impact Assessment
ECON 605
Intermediate Microeconomic Analysis
ECON 645
International Economics
ECON 668
Economic Development
ECON #669
Women and Economic Development
ECON 706
Economics of Climate Change
EREC 627
Community Economics
EREC 680
Agricultural and Food Policy
EREC 708
Environmental Economics
EREC 756
Rural and Regional Economic Development
GEOG 673
Political Ecology
HIST 618
American Environmental History
POLT 751
Comparative Environmental Politics and Policy
POLT 780
International Environmental Politics, Policy, and Law
SOC 665
Environmental Sociology
SOC 730
Communities and the Environment
Advanced Tools & Skills and Natural History
Select at least one course
NR 425
Field Dendrology
NR 655
Vertebrate Biology
NR 703
Watershed Water Quality Management
NR 707
Environmental Modeling
NR 712
NR 713
Quantitative Ecology
NR 745
Forest Management
NR 749
Forest Inventory and Modeling
NR 757
Remote Sensing of the Environment
NR 759
Digital Image Processing for Natural Resources
NR 760
Geographic Information Systems in Natural Resources
NR 785
Systems Thinking for Sustainable Solutions
SOC 601
Methods of Social Research
MEFB 719
Field Studies in Lake Ecology
MEFB 732
Lake Management
ZOOL 542
BIOL 752
ZOOL 745
Biology and Diversity of Insects
Senior Capstone Options
The ECS major capstone experience may be filled by any one (1) of the following options:4
Option 1:
NR 786
Leadership for Sustainability
Option 2: Both seminars must be scheduled. At least one must be taken in the senior year.
NR 753
& NR 754
Critical Issues in Sustainability: Sustainability as an Abundance Paradigm
and Critical Issues in Sustainability: Sense of Place
Option 3:
NR 663
Applied Directed Research in New Zealand (NZ Directed projects, if taken in the senior year) 2
Option 4:
Directed projects fulfilling one of the following: McNair Research Theses, Hamel Center Programs (IROP, SURF USA, SURF Abroad, etc.) may be applied in consultation with the adviser and ECS program coordinator.
Work Experience
NR 600
Work Experience 3
Total Credits86

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Rigorous academic pursuit and hands-on learning from the mountains to the sea. Full immersion learning at a diversity of sites in the North and South Islands.


Xi Sigma Pi is facilitated through the UNH NREN department. Its goal is to unite likeminded individuals through service and fraternal spirit through a shared enjoyment of the environment. In addition, members receive recognition for their service by earning a cord to wear during graduation. Opportunities to take up leadership roles and give back to the NREN department are abundant.

XI SIGMA PI NREN Honor Society

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