Interdisciplinary Ph.D. Emphasis and Program in Environment and Sustainability

Goal and Description:

We believe the key to solving environmental problems begins with training the next generation of researchers to engage in interdisciplinary collaborations. To that end, the SWG will propose a new interdisciplinary Ph.D. Emphasis in Environment and Sustainability. The new Emphasis will allow students to get a degree in an established program, but take additional seminars to satisfy Emphasis requirements.

This vision is an extension of recommendation #3 of the working Environmental Issues Task Force chaired by Keith Clarke in 2005: “That UCSB support the establishment of a new Ph.D.-level Emphasis on Environment and Society.” We will continue work toward this common end, and we strongly suggest that the campus revisit the Clarke Report as a source of inspiration for other ideas that would capitalize on the unrealized strengths of UC Santa Barbara in addressing the interface between the human and natural environment.


Discussions in 2009-2010 identified key goals and an initial set of required seminars. At least one seminar will be required to cross the natural/social science divide, i.e., students earning a degree in natural sciences would be required to take additional courses in social sciences or humanities and vice versa. Graduate students will also be required to participate in common core seminars in Epistemology, Methodology, and one project-based seminar. In spring 2010 the SWG identified more than thirty faculty interested in graduate education in sustainability from across campus and invited them to a meeting to participate in formalizing the proposal. These individuals met in June 2010, and most will join the SWG of 2010-2011 as a special sub-committee to finalize the proposal beginning fall 2010.


Draft of Core Courses

Guidelines for Establishing an Optional Graduate Emphasis

Examples of Other PhD Emphases

Proposal and Letter (Below)

Attachment Size
Current Draft Proposal and Letter 34 KB