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.

A young woman wearing a black tank top and glasses. She looks deep in thought and is standing somewhere outside. Tree branches can be seen in the foreground and background.

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 (24 credits) and at least one major, as well as minors and/or elective courses of the student’s choosing. 

The Environmental Studies Major includes 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.