AcademicsUndergraduate AcademicsEnvironmental Studies

BA in Environmental Studies

Bachelor of Arts in Environmental Studies

Learn the theories of ecopsychology, economics, and politics as they relate to earth-based change, engage with social justice issues, and participate in contemplative exercises that interact with the sacred nature of our planet in Naropa’s BA in Environmental Studies.

Program Overview

Naropa’s environmental studies program combines Western-based natural and social sciences with elements of contemplative education, social justice, and world wisdom traditions. This transdisciplinary approach empowers students by equipping them with a comprehensive knowledge base and skill set for tackling complex environmental issues.

Through this BA in Environmental Studies, students will gain a deep understanding of the living world through studying science, systems, sacred ecology, historical and contemporary environmental movements, diverse perspectives and wisdom, and contemplation, as well as engaging in hands-on, community-based work. 

The BA in Environmental Studies program combines different courses with a contemplative approach and different insights. You will gain knowledge of food policy, practice nature-based awareness, and even learn skills for surviving in the wilderness.

Naropa’s BA in environmental studies stands out due to its contemplative approach. Fostering a personal bond with nature becomes essential in leading communities and societies toward a deeper connection with the environment.

Naropa’s environmental studies program goes beyond conventional classroom instruction, providing opportunities to learn permaculture, survival skills, and field ecology along with participating in a contemplative nature retreat.

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Quick Facts

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Program Format

Naropa University’s undergraduate program is a four-year, fully accredited Bachelor of Arts degree program. The BA in Environmental Studies is a 39-credit major designed to empower students to develop the knowledge base and skill set needed to address complex environmental issues. 

Within the Environmental Studies curriculum, students delve into the intricate connections between the natural world, human culture, and individual experiences. The program examines these connections through five intertwined themes: field science, sacred ecology, sustainability, permaculture, and the history and justice of the environment.

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Course Spotlight

Permaculture Design

Students solidify their understanding of permaculture and build competence in using ecological design principles and practices to create regenerative human living environments. Students gain practical skills for building living soils, harvesting runoff rainwater, designing ecological pest control, and the development of sustainable food-producing landscapes. Each student designs a final project modeling permaculture principles and ecological soundness.


A Bachelor of Arts degree (120 credits) consists of a Core Curriculum (30 credits) and at least one major, as well as minors and/or elective courses of the student’s choosing. 

The Environmental Studies Major involves a total of 39 credit hours.

Environmental Studies Major Requirements

  • ENV370, Environmental Philiosophy & Ecopsychology (3)

  • ENV411, Science for Sustainability (3)

  • ENV350, Nature, the Sacred, and Contemplation (3)

  • ENV401, Environmental Leadership Skills (3)

  • ENV355 Environmental Justice (3)

  • ENV215, Sustainability (3)

  • ENV223, Field Ecology (3)

  • ENV238, Survival Skills (3)

  • ENV260, Introduction to Permaculture (3)

  • ENV341, Contemporary Environmental Movements (3)

  • ENV342, Permaculture Design (3)

  • ENV490, Special Topics: Activism (3)

  • ENV361, Spiritual Ecology (3)

  • ENV490, Special Topics: Contemplative (3)

  • ENV100, Earth Systems, Cosmology, and Gaia Theory (3)

  • ENV207, History of the Environmental Movement (3)

  • ENV253, Solidarity Economies (3)

  • ENV490, Special Topics: Theory (3)

Choose 6 Credits (from any of the courses listed above or below)

  • PAX335, Socially Engaged Spirituality (3)

  • REL351, Theories of Alternative Spiritualities & New Religious Movements (3)

  • ART355, Eco-Art (3)

  • REL250, Spirituality & Creative Expression (3)

  • ART200, The Contemplative Artist (3)

  • COR130, Roots & Branches (3)

  • REL160, Meditation Practicum I (3)

  • REL346, Wisdom & Compassion (3)

  • TRA120, Ikebana/Kado (3)

  • TRA133, Yoga I: Foundations (3)

  • COR150, Diversity Seminar (3)

  • INTD310, Feminist & Queet Theory Methods of Inquiry (3)

  • PAX250, Intro to Peace & Conflict (3)

  • PAX340, Conflict Transformation (3)

  • WRI210, Experimental/Activist Lit (3)

  • EDU300, Nature & Education (3)

  • COR222, Sustainability Seminar (3)

  • PSYB208, Embodying Process & the Individual (3)

  • PSYB209, Herbal Medicine (3)

  • PSYB329, Approaches to Healing (3)

  • PSYB354, Transpersonal Psychology (3)

  • COL450, Internship (3)

  • COR440, Capstone II (3)

Why Choose Naropa?

Green Campus & Nature

When you major in environmental studies at Naropa, your education will take you beyond the classroom. Students are required to actively engage in the university community and beyond, exploring Naropa’s green campus, hiking the Colorado outdoors, and engaging with the local sustainability community.

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Sustainability Community

At Naropa, you will find a like-minded community of peers and faculty as you dig into an undergraduate environmental studies curriculum rich with sacred ecology, contemplation, and community action. Ecology conversations, events, and earth-centered experiences abound in Naropa’s community.

Unique Methodology

Students who crave a deeper connection with nature and want to learn more about the natural sciences have found the right place. You'll explore environmental challenges through the perspectives of social justice, politics, community dynamics, and introspection.

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How this Program Prepares You

Internship and Senior Project

The Environmental Studies program collaborates with community organizations, enabling students to secure internships and create independent study opportunities that enhance the curriculum. BA majors must undertake a senior project in their final year, which can be a traditional thesis or a community-based initiative, fulfilled through ENV480, Senior Project.

Environmental Perspective

Upon completing the BA in environmental studies, graduates gain a comprehensive perspective on environmental issues, viewing them through the prisms of social justice, politics, community dynamics, and personal reflection. This journey enhances their understanding of the natural sciences and fosters a profound bond with nature. 

Environmental Engagement

Naropa’s environmental studies major pushes learning outside traditional classrooms, urging students to immerse themselves in both the university community and wider environments. Within a learning lab like the Williams D. Jones Community Greenhouse, students encounter firsthand applications of permaculture principles on campus.  

What You'll Learn


Obtain both physical and mental techniques to manage climate-related distress and worry, readying yourself for future uncertainties. Participate in nature-focused reflective exercises to deepen your bond with the wider environment.


Participate in activities and acquire abilities that enhance both internal and external capabilities needed for responsible involvement in various environments.


Demonstrate knowledge and application of environmental theories and concepts


Investigate how environmental crises affect marginalized communities and articulate strategies that prioritize these communities in addressing injustices.

Ecology & Climate Change

Show understanding of ecological principles and practical, applied skills.

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Career Opportunities with a Degree in Environmental Studies

After obtaining a degree in environmental studies from Naropa, graduates are well-equipped to explore diverse career avenues that align with their expertise and abilities. Opportunities abound, including roles as holistic health practitioners, organic farmers, environmental educators, landscapers, stormwater coordinators in local government, wilderness guides, and many other professions. 

Hear from a Graduate


Social justice, our environment, peace studies, and diversity have always been a big piece of my life. Naropa fosters a space for these issues to be talked about and acted out.

Candice Kearns Orlando

BA in Environmental Studies

FAQs About the
Environmental Studies

The difference between a Bachelor of Science (BS) and a Bachelor of Arts (BA) in environmental studies primarily lies in their academic focuses and curricular structures.
A BS program typically places a stronger emphasis on the scientific and technical aspects of environmental studies. A BA program in environmental studies often adopts a more interdisciplinary approach, blending natural sciences with social sciences, humanities, and policy studies.

The difference between environmental studies and environmental science lies in their focus and approach. While environmental science emphasizes natural systems and employs technology to safeguard the environment, environmental studies examines the interactions between humans and nature, emphasizing the intersections of science and policy.
With a degree in environmental studies, you can further your education and pursue careers such as holistic health practitioner, specialist in organic agriculture, urban food coordinator, early childhood educator, garden firm manager, landscape designer, nonprofit organization director, artist, environmental educator, art teacher, interior design consultant, writer/editor, local government stormwater coordinator, and wilderness expedition leader.
Pioneering contemplative education in the West and recognized as one of the 2020 Best Colleges for Environmental Science in Colorado, Naropa offers an unparalleled experience for environmental studies undergraduates. Naropa’s BA in Environmental Studies gives you the chance to dive into a transformative journey where nature deepens your understanding. Beyond classrooms, you will explore Naropa’s eco-friendly campus, embrace Colorado’s stunning landscapes, and engage with a thriving local sustainability community.

Learn More About the Program

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with your counselor

Rachel Thompson

Assistant Director of Undergraduate Admissions 

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with your counselor

Jenna Priest

Undergraduate Admissions Counselor

Prospective students last names H-Z

Ready to Apply?

Admission Requirements

Naropa University places a high emphasis on academic excellence and the commitment to introspective exploration.

Learn more about admission requirements and the application process for undergraduate students.

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  • Students with a 3.0 GPA or Higher

Applicants with excellent academic performance are welcome with minimal requirements.

  • Students with Less than 3.0 GPA

If your academic record hasn’t been the strongest, but you wish to apply to Naropa, we strongly encourage you to submit your application. Contemplative practice matters to us just as much as academic excellence.

  • Apply as a transfer student

Present an official college transcript on top of your application to apply to Naropa as a transfer student, and transfer 60 or more transferable credits.

Discover all requirements for first-time and transfer students at our admission requirements page.

Our university values inclusivity and celebrates different cultures. We know that having a mix of people makes our community strong, and we’re excited to hear the unique ideas each student will bring to our active and energetic campus.

Learn more about applying to Naropa as an international student.

Costs and Financial Aid

Naropa prioritizes making education accessible to a wide array of students. Explore our page on undergraduate expenses and financial support to have insights on tuition, scholarships, grants, and other available resources.
You can use our cost calculator to estimate your potential costs at Naropa.

Undergraduate Scholarship Opportunities

Scholarships are a great way to help with the costs of going to school. Naropa University offers an array of scholarship opportunities to undergraduate students. Students may be eligible to receive scholarships through their admissions application, by applying for scholarships, or by being nominated for a scholarship. For more detailed information about the different scholarships available and how to receive them, please review our undergraduate scholarship page.
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This is where experiential learning meets academic rigor. Where you challenge your intellect and uncover your potential. Where you discover the work you’re moved to do—then use it to transform our world.

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Naropa Campuses Closed on Friday, March 15, 2024

Due to adverse weather conditions, all Naropa campuses will be closed Friday, March 15, 2024.  All classes that require a physical presence on campus will be canceled. All online and low-residency programs are to meet as scheduled.

Based on the current weather forecast, the Healing with the Ancestors Talk & Breeze of Simplicity program scheduled for Friday evening, Saturday, and Sunday will be held as planned.

Staff that do not work remotely or are scheduled to work on campus, can work remotely. Staff that routinely work remotely are expected to continue to do so.

As a reminder, notifications will be sent by e-mail and the LiveSafe app.  

Regardless of Naropa University’s decision, if you ever believe the weather conditions are unsafe, please contact your supervisor and professors.  Naropa University trusts you to make thoughtful and wise decisions based on the conditions and situation in which you find yourself in.