Environmental Conservation and Sustainability Major B.S.

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

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


Russell Congalton

Program Coordinator for Environmental Conservation & Sustainability
Phone: (603) 862-4644
Office: Natural Resources & the Environment, James Hall Rm 164, Durham, NH 03824

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
General Ecology
Forest Ecology
Physical Science: Select one of the following4
Introduction to Environmental Science
The Science of Where
General Chemistry I
Energy and Environment
Geology and the Environment
Environmental Pollution and Protection: A Global Context
Introduction to Physics I
Social Science:
Resource Economics:
EREC 411Environmental and Resource Economics Perspectives4
Environmental Ethics and Values: Select one of the following4
Ecological Sustainability and Values
Sustainable Living - Global Perspectives
Environment and Society
Natural Resources Policy: Select one of the following4
Natural Resources and Environmental Policy
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
Applied Biostatistics I
Statistical Methods and Applications
Geospatial Analysis:
NR 658Introduction to Geographic Information Systems4
Writing Skills: Select one of the following4
Professional and Technical Writing
Persuasive Writing
Nature Writers
Presentation Skills: Select one of the following4
Public Speaking
Creative Drama
Introduction to Puppetry
Storytelling, Story Theatre, and Involvement Dramatics
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.
Global Environmental Change
Wildlife Ecology
Studio Soils
Forest Ecosystems and Environmental Change
Freshwater Resources
Landscape Ecology
Physiological Ecology
Wildlife Population Ecology
Introduction to Biogeography
Principles of Conservation Biology
Ecology and Biogeography of New Zealand
Restoration Ecology and Ecosystem Management in New Zealand
Applied Directed Research in New Zealand
Conservation Genetics
Soil Ecology
Wetland Ecology and Management
Terrestrial Ecosystems
Tropical Ecology
Aquatic Ecosystems
Environmental Soil Chemistry
Community Ecology
Forest Health in a Changing World
Forest Communities of New Hampshire
Lake Ecology
Marine Ecology
Aquatic Plants in Restoration/Management
Insect Pest Management
Marine Invertebrate Evolution and Ecology
Biological Oceanography
Fisheries Biology
Ecology and Marine Environment
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.
Community Development Perspectives
Introduction to our Energy System and Sustainable Energy
International Energy Topics
Economics of Forestry
Environmental Policy, Planning and Sustainability in New Zealand
Ecological Sustainability and Values
International Environmental Politics and Policies for the 21st Century
Resolving Environmental Conflicts
Sustainable Living - Global Perspectives
Advanced Topics in Sustainable Energy
Globalization and Global Population Health
Applied Community Development
Fundamentals of Planning
Green Real Estate
Social Impact Assessment
Intermediate Microeconomic Analysis
International Economics
Economic Development
Women and Economic Development
Economics of Climate Change
Community Economics
Agricultural and Food Policy
Environmental Economics
Rural and Regional Economic Development
Political Ecology
American Environmental History
Comparative Environmental Politics and Policy
International Environmental Politics, Policy, and Law
Environmental Sociology
Communities and the Environment
Advanced Tools & Skills and Natural History
Select at least one course
Field Dendrology
Vertebrate Biology
Watershed Water Quality Management
Environmental Modeling
Quantitative Ecology
Forest Management
Forest Inventory and Modeling
Remote Sensing of the Environment
Digital Image Processing for Natural Resources
Geographic Information Systems in Natural Resources
Systems Thinking for Sustainable Solutions
Methods of Social Research
Field Studies in Lake Ecology
Lake Management
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:
Leadership for Sustainability
Option 2: Both seminars must be scheduled. At least one must be taken in the senior year.
Critical Issues in Sustainability: Sustainability as an Abundance Paradigm
and Critical Issues in Sustainability: Sense of Place
Option 3:
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
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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