The major in Ecosystem Science and Sustainability provides a strong scientific foundation in ecosystem ecology integrated with a broad knowledge of the cultural, social, economic, and political issues that are shaping the issue of sustainability. Students in the major learn to integrate science into real-world decision making, with the goal of developing sustainable strategies to maintain ecosystem services around the globe. We provide students with a broad base of experiential and collaborative learning opportunities, opportunities for research through our affiliation with the Natural Resource Ecology Laboratory, and the latest scientific knowledge about sustainability science and how organisms interact with their environments to form complex ecosystems. Opportunities to join in research, internships, practical and team exercises, and field experiences in the beautiful Rocky Mountains and beyond combine with an outstanding classroom education to build a solid foundation for applying sustainable resource management principles.

Learning Outcomes

Students in the major learn:

  • How to help people use natural resources in a sustainable way.
  • About environmental change at local to global scales.
  • The amazing connections between different earth system components.
  • How to conduct research or field work in a variety of settings addressing questions important to sustainability.

Potential Occupations

Completion of the undergraduate degree qualifies students for a wide variety of careers related to sustainability and natural resource science. Examples of possible careers include: sustainability coordinator, ecologist, environmental educator, invasive species specialist, biological science technician, climate change scientist, natural resource specialist, or corporate environmental consultant. Students completing the undergraduate degree in Ecosystem Science and Sustainability will also be well prepared to succeed in graduate education in a variety of disciplines.

Effective Fall 2018

Freshman
AUCCCredits
CO 150College Composition (GT-CO2)1A3
ESS 120Intro to Ecosystem and Watershed Sciences 1
ESS 129Information Management for Sustainability 1
ESS 130Intro to Systems Theory for Sustainability 1
Select one course from the following: 3
Introductory Cultural Anthropology (GT-SS3)3C 
Agricultural and Resource Economics (GT-SS1)3C 
Issues in Environmental Economics (GT-SS1)3C 
Principles of Microeconomics (GT-SS1)3C 
Principles of Macroeconomics (GT-SS1)3C 
American Government and Politics (GT-SS1)3C 
State and Local Government and Politics (GT-SS1)3C 
General Sociology (GT-SS3)3C 
Social Problems (GT-SS3)3C 
Select one group from the following: 4
Group A:
  
Principles of Animal Biology (GT-SC2)3A 
Animal Biology Laboratory (GT-SC1)3A 
Group B:
  
Attributes of Living Systems (GT-SC1)3A 
Select one group from the following: 5
Group A:
  
Fundamentals of Chemistry (GT-SC2)3A 
Fundamentals of Chemistry Laboratory (GT-SC1)3A 
Group B:
  
General Chemistry I (GT-SC2)3A 
General Chemistry Lab I (GT-SC1)3A 
Select one course from the following: 3
Foundations of Environmental Sustainability  
Environmental Conservation (GT-SC2)3A 
Environmental Conservation  
Select one course from the following: 4
Calculus for Biological Scientists I (GT-MA1)1B 
Calculus for Physical Scientists I (GT-MA1)1B 
Arts and Humanities3B3
 Total Credits 28
Sophomore
 
ESS 210/GR 210Physical Geography 3
LIFE 320Ecology 3
Select one course from the following: 4
Principles of Plant Biology (GT-SC1)3A 
Biology of Organisms-Animals and Plants  
Select one course from the following: 5
General Physics I (GT-SC1)3A 
Physics for Scientists and Engineers I (GT-SC1)3A 
Select one course from the following: 3
Introduction to Statistical Methods  
Introduction to Biostatistics  
Arts and Humanities3B3
Global and Cultural Awareness3E3
Electives 4
 Total Credits 28
Junior
 
ESS 311Ecosystem Ecology 3
ESS 312Sustainability Science 3
ESS 320Internship and Career Preparation 1
ESS 330Quantitative Reasoning for Ecosystem Science 3
GR 304/WR 304Sustainable Watersheds3A3
NR 322Introduction to Geographic Information Systems 4
Select one course from the following: 3
Writing in the Disciplines: Sciences (GT-CO3)2 
Writing in the Disciplines: Social Sciences (GT-CO3)2 
Professional and Technical Communication (GT-CO3)2 
Specialized Professional Writing2 
Historical Perspectives3D3
Electives 8
 Total Credits 31
Summer 
Professional Development and Engagement Requirement (see list below) 5
The timeline to complete this requirement may vary – plan in consultation with advisor.
  
 Total Credits 5
Senior
 
ESS 440Practicing Sustainability4C4
GR 323/NR 323Remote Sensing and Image Interpretation 3
NR 400Public Communication in Natural Resources 3
Select one course from the following: 3
Global Perspectives on Sustainabilty4A,4B 
Earth Systems Ecology4A,4B 
ESS Electives (see list below) 9
Electives1 6
 Total Credits 28
 Program Total Credits: 120

Professional Development and Engagement Requirement

The timeline to complete the Professional Development and Engagement may vary. Suggested completion of summer coursework (NR 220 and some department-approved study abroad programs) may occur between sophomore and junior years or between junior and senior years. ESS 487 has a prerequisite of ESS 320, so should be completed after junior year. ESS 220/ESS 221/ESS 298 may be completed during the academic year, ideally during junior or senior year, thus moving elective credits to freshman and sophomore years.

Select one group from the following:
Group A:5
Natural Resource Ecology and Measurements
Group B:5
Internship
Group C: 5
Research Skills for Ecosystem Science I
Research Methods for Ecosystem Science II
Research
Group D:5
Department-approved Study Abroad

Ecosystem Science and Sustainability Electives

Select a minimum of 9 credits not taken elsewhere in the program from the list below. A minimum of 5 credits must be from the ESS subject code. Additional coursework may be required due to prerequisites.

Select a minimum of 5 credits from the following courses:
ESS 400Global Perspectives on Sustainabilty3
ESS 411Earth Systems Ecology3
ESS 412Sustainable Cities3
ESS 471Special Topics in Ecosystem Sustainability1-6
ESS 486Ecosystem Practicum2
ESS 524Foundations for Carbon/Greenhouse Gas Mgmt3
ESS 542Greenhouse Gas Policies2
ESS 543Current Topics in Climate Change2
Select 0-4 credits from the following courses:
ANTH 329Cultural Change3
ANTH 330Human Ecology3
ANTH 415Indigenous Ecologies and the Modern World3
ANTH 453Impacts on Ancient Environments3
AREC 340/ECON 340Introduction-Economics of Natural Resources3
AREC 444/ECON 444Economics of Energy Resources3
ATS 350Introduction to Weather and Climate2
ATS 351Introduction to Weather and Climate Lab1
BSPM 302Applied and General Entomology2
BSPM 308Ecology and Management of Weeds3
BSPM 361Elements of Plant Pathology3
BSPM 365Integrated Tree Health Management4
BSPM 451Integrated Pest Management3
BZ 440Plant Physiology3
BZ 441Plant Physiology Laboratory2
BZ 450Plant Ecology4
BZ 471Stream Biology and Ecology3
BZ 472Stream Biology and Ecology Laboratory1
BZ 474Limnology3
F 311Forest Ecology3
F 322Economics of the Forest Environment3
F 324Fire Effects and Adaptations3
FW 204Introduction to Fishery Biology3
FW 260Principles of Wildlife Management3
FW 300Biology and Diversity of Fishes2
FW 375Field Wildlife Studies3
FW 400Conservation of Fish in Aquatic Ecosystems3
FW 477Wildlife Habitat Use and Management3
GR 303Mountain Geography3
GR 333Glaciers and Climate Change3
GR 348Biogeography3
GR 410Climate Change: Science, Policy, Implications3
GR 430Land Change Science and Remote Sensing3
GR 431Land Change Science Lab1
GR 448Forest Biogeography and Climate Change3
MIP 432Microbial Ecology3
MIP 433Microbial Ecology Laboratory1
NR 300Biological Diversity3
NR 326Forest Vegetation Management3
NR 330Human Dimensions in Natural Resources3
NR 353/BZ 353Global Change Ecology, Impacts and Mitigation3
NR 421Natural Resources Sampling3
NR 422GIS Applications in Natural Resource Management4
NR 425Natural Resource Policy and Sustainability3
NRRT 231Principles-Parks/Protected Area Management3
NRRT 262Principles of Environmental Communication3
NRRT 270Principles of Natural Resource Tourism3
NRRT 320International Issues-Recreation and Tourism3
NRRT 330Social Aspects of Natural Resource Management3
NRRT 360Group Decision Making in Natural Resources3
NRRT 361Natural Resources and the Media3
NRRT 362Environmental Conflict Management3
NRRT 401Collaborative Conservation3
POLS 361U.S. Environmental Politics and Policy3
POLS 362Global Environmental Politics3
RS 300Rangeland Conservation and Stewardship3
RS 331Wildland Plants and Plant Communities3
RS 432Rangeland Measurements and Monitoring2
RS 452Rangeland Herbivore Ecology and Management3
RS 470Rangeland Economics and Analysis2
RS 471Rangeland Planning and Grazing Management2
RS 478Ecological Restoration3
SOC 320Population-Natural Resources and Environment3
SOC 461Water, Society, and Environment3
SOCR 322Principles of Microclimatology3
SOCR 400Soils and Global Change: Science and Impacts3
SOCR 420Crop and Soil Management Systems I3
SOCR 421Crop and Soil Management Systems II4
SOCR 441Soil Ecology3
SOCR 442Forest and Range Soils3
SOCR 455Soil Microbiology3
SOCR 456Soil Microbiology Laboratory1
WR 416Land Use Hydrology3
WR 417Watershed Measurements3
WR 418Land Use and Water Quality3
WR 419Water Quality Laboratory for Wildland Managers2
WR 474Snow Hydrology3
Freshman
Semester 1CriticalRecommendedAUCCCredits
CO 150College Composition (GT-CO2) X1A3
ESS 120Intro to Ecosystem and Watershed Sciences   1
ESS 129Information Management for SustainabilityX  1
Select one group from the following: X 4
Group A:    
Principles of Animal Biology (GT-SC2)  3A 
Animal Biology Laboratory (GT-SC1)  3A 
Group B:    
Attributes of Living Systems (GT-SC1)  3A 
Select one course from the following:   3
Environmental Conservation (GT-SC2)  3A 
Environmental Conservation    
Foundations of Environmental Sustainability    
Arts and Humanities  3B3
 Total Credits   15
Semester 2CriticalRecommendedAUCCCredits
ESS 130Intro to Systems Theory for SustainabilityX  1
Select one group from the following: X 5
Group A:    
Fundamentals of Chemistry (GT-SC2)  3A 
Fundamentals of Chemistry Laboratory (GT-SC1)  3A 
Group B:    
General Chemistry I (GT-SC2)  3A 
General Chemistry Lab I (GT-SC1)  3A 
Select one course from the following: X 4
Calculus for Biological Scientists I (GT-MA1)  1B 
Calculus for Physical Scientists I (GT-MA1)  1B 
Select one course from the following:   3
Introductory Cultural Anthropology (GT-SS3)  3C 
Agricultural and Resource Economics (GT-SS1)  3C 
Issues in Environmental Economics (GT-SS1)  3C 
Principles of Microeconomics (GT-SS1)  3C 
Principles of Macroeconomics (GT-SS1)  3C 
American Government and Politics (GT-SS1)  3C 
State and Local Government and Politics (GT-SS1)  3C 
General Sociology (GT-SS3)  3C 
Social Problems (GT-SS3)  3C 
CO 150, and AUCC 1B (MATH) must be completed by the end of Semester 2.X   
 Total Credits   13
Sophomore
Semester 3CriticalRecommendedAUCCCredits
ESS 210/GR 210Physical GeographyX  3
Select one course from the following:X  4
Principles of Plant Biology (GT-SC1)  3A 
Biology of Organisms-Animals and Plants    
Global and Cultural Awareness  3E3
Electives   4
CHEM 107 and CHEM 108 or CHEM 111 and CHEM 112, as well as BZ 110/BZ 111 and BZ 120 or LIFE 102/LIFE 103, must be completed by the end of Semester 3.X   
 Total Credits   14
Semester 4CriticalRecommendedAUCCCredits
LIFE 320Ecology   3
Select one course from the following: X 5
General Physics I (GT-SC1)  3A 
Physics for Scientists and Engineers I (GT-SC1)  3A 
Select one course from the following: X 3
Introduction to Statistical Methods    
Introduction to Biostatistics    
Arts and Humanities  3B3
 Total Credits   14
Junior
Semester 5CriticalRecommendedAUCCCredits
ESS 311Ecosystem EcologyX  3
GR 304/WR 304Sustainable Watersheds  3A3
NR 322Introduction to Geographic Information Systems X 4
Historical Perspectives  3D3
Electives   3
 Total Credits   16
Semester 6CriticalRecommendedAUCCCredits
ESS 312Sustainability ScienceX  3
ESS 320Internship and Career PreparationX  1
ESS 330Quantitative Reasoning for Ecosystem ScienceX  3
Select one course from the following:   3
Writing in the Disciplines: Sciences (GT-CO3)  2 
Writing in the Disciplines: Social Sciences (GT-CO3)  2 
Professional and Technical Communication (GT-CO3)  2 
Specialized Professional Writing  2 
Electives   5
 Total Credits   15
Semester 7CriticalRecommendedAUCCCredits
Professional Development and Engagement Requirement (see list on Requirements tab) X 5
The timeline to complete this requirement may vary – plan in consultation with advisor.
    
 Total Credits   5
Senior
Semester 8CriticalRecommendedAUCCCredits
GR 323/NR 323Remote Sensing and Image InterpretationX  3
Select one course from the following: X 3
ESS 400 (Spring only)
Global Perspectives on Sustainabilty  4A,4B 
Earth Systems Ecology  4A,4B 
Ecosystem Science and Sustainability Elective (See Department List on Concentration Requirements tab)   6
Elective   3
 Total Credits   15
Semester 9CriticalRecommendedAUCCCredits
ESS 440Practicing SustainabilityX 4C4
NR 400Public Communication in Natural ResourcesX  3
Ecosystem Science and Sustainability Electives (See Department List on Concentration Requirements tab)X  3
ElectiveX  3
ESS 400 or ESS 411 MUST be completed by the end of Semester 9.X   
The benchmark courses for the 9th semester are the remaining courses in the entire program of study.X   
 Total Credits   13
 Program Total Credits:   120