Earn your BS in Environmental Policy and Planning

Are you committed to environmental protection and stewardship? The interdisciplinary environmental policy and planning (EPPL) major trains students to tackle environmental problems through action, advocacy, and compliance. It is excellent preparation for a career in environmental law. The planning track provides tools for working in city, county, or regional planning, or in land and resource use assessment. The policy track offers training for positions in the public or private sector.

The EPPL major integrates a group of courses to comprise a coherent approach to the study of the human dimensions of environmental problems. The major provides a recognizable, meaningful label to a concentration of courses that are customized by the student, thus making graduates viable as potential employees or candidates for graduate education. The major is managed by the Department of Geographical and Sustainability Sciences.


The BS with a major in environmental policy and planning requires the following coursework:

Course typeSemester hours
Introductory courses17-18
Intermediate courses 12 
Methods courses13-14 
Capstone course/research project1-4 
Track courses12 
Total hours55-62

Course numberCourse nameSemester hours
All of these:
ECON:1100Principles of Microeconomics4
ENVS:2010Interdisciplinary Environmental Seminar1
GEOG:1070Contemporary Environmental Issues3
GEOG:2013/BUS:2013/URP:2013 Introduction to Sustainability 3
One of these:
GEOG:1046/ANTH:1046/GWSS:1046 Environmental Politics in India3
ANTH:2261Human Impacts on the Environment3
One of these:
EES:1080/ENVS:1080Introduction to Environmental Science3-4
EES:1085/ENVS:1085Fundamentals of Environmental Science4
GEOG:1020The Global Environment3

Course numberCourse nameSemester hours
Two of these:
POLI:1400Introduction to Comparative Politics
POLI:3111American Public Policy
GEOG:3400Iowa Environmental Policy in Practice
GEOG:3780/GHS:3780U.S. Energy Policy in Global Context
HIST:3230American Environmental History
One of these:
ANTH:3103Environment and Culture3
GEOG:3300Envisioning Future Worlds: Sustainable Development and Its Alternatives 3  
NAIS:1290Native American Foods and Foodways
One of these:
CNW:2740The Art and Craft of Writing about the Environment
JMC:1800Environmental Communication
PBAF:3560Public Policy and Persuasion
RHET:3700Advocacy and Sustainability: Crafting Stories of People, Place, and Resilience3

Course numberCourse nameSemester hours
All of these:
GEOG:2050Foundations of GIS3
GEOG:3520GIS for Environmental Studies3
STAT:2010Statistical Methods and Computing 3
One of these:
STAT:3120/IGPI:3120Probability and Statistics 4
POLI:3000Analyzing Political Data
ANTH:5110Anthropological Data Analysis 
STAT:4143/PSQF:4143Introduction to Statistical Methods 

Students complete a capstone course or research project requirement. Capstone or research project courses are typically taken by students during their senior year. Students who choose GEOG:3992 Undergraduate Research must make arrangements with a faculty advisor.

Course numberCourse nameSemester hours
One of these:
ENVS:3010/EES:3010/GEOG:3003Interdisciplinary Environmental Seminar1
GEOG:3992Undergraduate Research (consult advisor)
Honors students choose from the following options: 
One of these:
GEOG:4995Honors Thesis 3
POLI:4601Honors Senior Thesis
ANTH:4995Honors Research Seminar 
Or, both of these:
HIST:3995History Honors Research Seminar 
HIST:3996Honors Thesis 3

Students who earn a second major in anthropology, geography, political science, or history must complete a minimum of 12 semester hours of coursework in the second major that they do not also count toward the major in environmental policy and planning. The 12 semester hours of courses must be offered by the second major's administrative home: anthropology (prefix ANTH), geographical and sustainability sciences (prefix GEOG), or political science (prefix POLI). This requirement applies whether students earn the same degree (BA or BS) with both majors or earn a BA with one major and a BS with the other. However, honors students in environmental policy and planning may count their honors thesis credit toward this 12 semester hours requirement. Students may not use a course to satisfy more than one requirement of the major.

EPPL majors may also earn minors in geography and geographic information science (GISci).

Major tracks

Students choose either the planning track or the policy track and complete their track's required coursework.

The planning track requires 12 semester hours. Some of these courses have prerequisites; students must complete all of a course's prerequisites before they may register for the course or seek permission of the instructor.

Course Requirements for Planning Track
Course numberCourse nameSemester hours
One of these:
ECON:3625/URP:3135Environmental and Natural Resource Economics3
GEOG:3800Environmental Economics and Policy3
Three of these:
ECON:3640/URP:3134Regional and Urban Economics
GEOG:2410Environment and Development
GEOG:2930Water Resources
GEOG:3210/OEH:3210Health, Work, and the Environment
GEOG:3315Ecosystem Ecology3
GEOG:3340Ecosystem Services: Human Dependence on Natural Systems3
GEOG:3350Urban Ecology3
GEOG:3400Iowa Environmental Policy in Practice3
GEOG:3760/GHS:3760Hazards and Society
GEOG:4770Environmental Justice3
NAIS:1290/AMST:1290/GHS:1290/HIST:1290Native American Foods and Foodways 
URP:3001/GEOG:3920Planning Livable Cities3
URP:3350/ECON:3750/GEOG:3940Transportation Economics

The policy track requires 12 semester hours. Some of these courses have prerequisites; students must complete all of a course's prerequisites before they may register for the course.

Course Requirements for Policy Track
Course numberCourse nameSemester hours
One of these:
GEOG:4750Environmental Impact Analysis
POLI:2417Comparative Environmental Policy 
Three of these:
ANTH:3237/MUSM:3237Politics of the Archeological Past
ANTH:3240Cultural Resources Management Archeology: Practice and Practicalities
CPH:3400/GEOG:3210Health, Work, and the Environment
GEOG:2331Human Dimensions of Climate
GEOG:3400Iowa Environmental Policy in Practice
HIST:3128Topics in Global Environmental History3
HIST:3230American Environmental History
NAIS:1290/AMST:1290/GHS:1290/HIST:1290Native American Foods and Foodways 
POLI:3100American State Politics
POLI:3102The U.S. Congress
POLI:3110Local Politics
POLI:3111American Public Policy
POLI:3117Bureaucratic Politics and Public Administration 
POLI:3118Interest Groups
POLI:3123State Politics in Iowa (section EXW)
POLI:3126Environmental Policy
POLI:3128Politics of the U.S. National Parks System3
POLI:3204/SOC:3525Public Opinion
POLI:3424Global Development
POLI:3408Chinese Politics and Society

Courses may not be used to satisfy more than one requirement. * For the policy electives, the course POLI:3125 Perspectives on Contemporary Iowa must be taken concurrently with POLI:3124 Political Science Des Moines Internship Program. Credit from POLI:3124 does not count toward the major

Majors in Environmental Policy & Planning may minor in Anthropology, Geography, Political Science, or Geographic Information Science (among others); no more than 6 semester hours can count toward both the major and the minor.

Create your academic path

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Current course list

The MyUI Schedule displays registered courses for a particular session and is available to enrolled students. The list view includes course instructors, time and location, and features to drop courses or change sections.

Honors in the major

Students have the opportunity to graduate with honors in the major. Honors students in the program must maintain a cumulative UI GPA of at least 3.33 and a GPA of at least 3.33 in all work for the major. They must be admitted to the major's honors program by the first semester of their senior year or earlier.

Honors students pursue study beyond the typical undergraduate level. They work under the direction of a faculty member to conduct original research and then prepare and present an honors thesis based on their research. The thesis is reviewed by a committee of at least three faculty members. Students earn credit for the thesis by registering for GEOG:4995 Honors Thesis or POLI:4601 Honors Senior Thesis, or for both ANTH:4995 Honors Research Seminar and ANTH:4996 Honors Research.

View honors coursework