Global Environmental Change and Sustainability

Major & Minor

The interdisciplinary, interdepartmental GECS major and minor introduce students to both the science of the Earth and its living and nonliving systems and how humans interact with Earth and its natural systems. GECS is solution-focused on how humans can use powerful tools, such as policy, business, and communication to help those systems. The goals are to advance understanding of the interrelationships, magnitude, and consequences of global environmental change while training the next generation of problem-solvers to live more sustainably on our planet. Students will be exposed to the practical applications of theory and research from a variety of disciplines throughout their coursework. Professionals' backgrounds are typically specialized within traditional disciplines; a primary purpose of this major is to develop the ability of students to venture beyond the confines of any one discipline, applying knowledge and skills from many disciplines to create solutions to the global environmental problems we face.

Highlights of the Hopkins Program

To further enhance students' perspective of the global nature of the issues and differences in world views of different cultures, the major will cultivate and nurture relationships with international institutions to provide a variety of culturally and academically challenging opportunities abroad to augment the JHU experience. After completing core requirements, GECS majors choose to concentrate either in the Natural Sciences or Social Sciences. Both concentrations have fundamental requirements, including courses in both environmental science and social science; the proportion depends on the concentration. A GECS minor is available for students desiring to complement their major with knowledge about environmental sustainability. All GECS majors complete a senior capstone experience consisting of projects, research, internships, and field trips that give students "hands on" experience. These projects could be coordinated with other activities at JHU, including those of the Hopkins Office of Sustainability, and could also lead to greater outreach activities.


Sample First Semester Schedule

Environmental Science focus:

  • AS.270.103 Introduction to Global Environmental Change
  • AS.030.101 Introductory Chemistry I
  • AS.030.105 Introductory Chemistry Lab I
  • AS.110.106 or 108 Calculus I
  • Elective Course

12-17 credits

Social Science focus:

  • AS.270.103 Introduction to Global Environmental Change
  • AS.110.106 Calculus I
  • AS.180.101 Elements of Macroeconomics
  • AS.190.209 Contemporary International Politics
  • Elective Course

12-17 credits

Career Exploration

Skill Set

The “real world” skills you’ll develop with this major:

  • Collecting and analyzing samples and data
  • Working both indoors and outdoors
  • Developing and planning environmental programs
  • Working as part of a team
  • Seeing relationships among factors
  • Reporting results orally and in writing

Career Center

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