Overall Rating Platinum - expired
Overall Score 86.82
Liaison Richard Demerjian
Submission Date March 28, 2018
Executive Letter Download

STARS v2.1

University of California, Irvine
AC-3: Undergraduate Program

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 3.00 / 3.00 Jessica Debats Garrison
Administrating Director
UCI Environment Collaboration
"---" indicates that no data was submitted for this field

Does the institution offer at least one sustainability-focused major, degree program, or the equivalent for undergraduate students (I.e. an interdisciplinary academic program that concentrates on sustainability as an integrated concept)?:

Name of the sustainability-focused undergraduate degree program:
B.A. in Environmental Science

A brief description of the undergraduate degree program:

Environmental professionals with training in the natural sciences, social sciences, economics, and public policy are needed to address issues such as the Gulf oil spill, global climate change, and drought and water supply. The Environmental Science major in the Department of Earth System Science prepares students interested in solving environmental problems by linking an understanding of natural science with socioeconomic factors and public policy. The curriculum combines a quantitative understanding of environmental science, chemistry, and biology with studies of social science, policy, and macro- and microeconomics to provide a foundation for careers in environmental policy, resource management, education, environmental law, and related fields. Graduates are prepared for careers in government, non-profit, and private industry that involve both science and policy.

The Environmental Science program provides students with a solid foundation to recognize the impacts of human activities on the environment, and in turn the impacts of environmental change on society. Students study the mechanisms by which key institutions, policies, and regulations impact ecosystems and the physical environment. Classes cover local and global environmental issues, sustainability, and climate change, and each student completes a senior project in sustainability. Once the core course work is complete, students are encouraged to focus on a particular area within Environmental Science and to choose electives that build a coherent core of knowledge. Focus areas include, but are not limited to planning, policy and design, sociology, economics, climatology, water resources, water quality, air pollution, resource management, and atmospheric sciences.

The website URL for the undergraduate degree program:
Name of the sustainability-focused, undergraduate degree program (2nd program):
B.A. in Urban Studies

A brief description of the undergraduate degree program (2nd program):

Humanity is at a turning point: a majority of the world's population now lives in cities. With increasing urbanization, global challenges have become more pressing than ever. The Urban Studies major in the Department of Urban Planning and Public Policy is an interdisciplinary program for students who want to learn how to foster more equitable, inclusive, sustainable, and livable cities. It integrates theories, analytical tools, and experiences from the fields of planning, policy, and design to investigate the causes, prevalence, and consequences of urban challenges and to develop approaches for addressing them.

The Urban Studies major builds on the School of Social Ecology's social-ecological foundation by teaching students how to discover, engage, and transform complex urban systems. Majors learn about:
o Theoretical frameworks for assessing the social, institutional, and cultural contexts of human-environment relations within cities
o Conceptual and analytical tools for understanding complex and interconnected urban processes and systems across multiple spatial scales
o Critical perspectives on historic and contemporary planning and governance strategies to address challenges including social inequality, sustainability/resilience, and inclusiveness
o Technical and communicative skills for developing and implementing solutions to urban problems which are sensitive and responsive to local conditions, needs, and aspirations

The Urban Studies major provides a solid foundation for employment in urban and regional planning, community development, environmental management, social welfare, or related fields; or preparation for graduate and professional training in planning, public policy, geography, law, political science, urban design, and many other disciplines. The Urban Studies program provides an opportunity for students to develop many transferable skills - analytical, organizational, leadership, and communication - that are essential for a broad range of career trajectories. Graduates play an important role in changing the way cities work - as professional planners, project coordinators, GIS specialists, urban design experts, transportation analysts, etc.

The website URL for the undergraduate degree program (2nd program):
Name of the sustainability-focused, undergraduate degree program (3rd program):

A brief description of the undergraduate degree program (3rd program):

The website URL for the undergraduate degree program (3rd program):

The name and website URLs of all other sustainability-focused, undergraduate degree program(s):

Does the institution offer one or more sustainability-focused minors, concentrations or certificates for undergraduate students?:

Name of the sustainability-focused undergraduate minor, concentration or certificate:
Minor in Global Sustainability

A brief description of the undergraduate minor, concentration or certificate:

The interdisciplinary minor in Global Sustainability prepares students to consider the challenges of meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs, with emphasis upon addressing the extreme poverty that afflicts at least 20 percent of the world's current population. The Earth is a complex system comprised of interactions between its various physical, biological, social, and political components, and human populations have initiated many global trends that cannot be sustained indefinitely. Some of these trends are physiochemical or biological in nature (the depletion of fossil fuels, the accumulation of ozone-depleting chemicals, the destruction of wildlife habitat, and high rates of species extinction), while others are social and political (accelerating urbanization, population displacement, and regional economic imbalance).

As a result, the vitality of the Earth depends upon interdisciplinary and collaborative approaches that draw on the strengths of multiple fields. In this program, students become aware of the main drivers of climate change, both natural and human-induced, the intrinsic as well as the resource values of species, ecosystems, and communities, and how the loss of cultural diversity and a growing income gap between nations leads to additional pressure for biological resource exploitation. Students become familiar with foundational sustainability concepts in social practice, governance and allocation, the physical sciences, and the biological sciences to better understand and effectively deal with contemporary environmental and social equity crises.

The minor is open to all students. In addition to introductory courses, electives, and methods courses, students are required to complete a year-long senior capstone seminar sequence on global sustainability.

The website URL for the undergraduate minor, concentration or certificate:
Name of the sustainability-focused undergraduate minor, concentration or certificate (2nd program):
Concentration in Geosciences Education with a Secondary Teaching Certification

A brief description of the undergraduate minor, concentration or certificate (2nd program):

Students pursuing a B.A. in Environmental Science or B.A. in Earth System Science may choose to earn a bachelor's degree and complete the required course work and field experience for a California Preliminary Single Subject Teaching Credential at the same time. UCI CalTeach, a unique academic program that recruits talented undergraduate science and math majors to prepare for a teaching career, is jointly sponsored by the School of Biological Sciences, School of Physical Sciences, and School of Education.

The website URL for the undergraduate minor, concentration or certificate (2nd program):
Name of the sustainability-focused undergraduate minor, concentration or certificate (3rd program):
Minor in Urban Studies

A brief description of the undergraduate minor, concentration or certificate (3rd program):

The Urban Studies minor offered by the Department of Urban Planning and Policy prepares students to:

o Clean the air
o Build affordable housing
o Reduce traffic congestion
o Make cities safer
o Make democracy work

Urban planners design cities that thrive, manage government agencies that deliver, and build a better tomorrow for citizens in communities large and small. They work locally, regionally, and globally as transportation planners, economic development specialists, city managers, landscape architects, urban designers, community health workers, and regional planners.

Students from any major can benefit from minoring in Urban Studies. Social scientists will learn public management and community organizing. Engineers will learn about urban infrastructure systems, including water supply and transportation. Humanities majors will discover that planning thought draws heavily on critical analyses of race, class, and ethnicity. Science majors will find that planners apply knowledge of statistics, engineering, and environmental systems to solve complex problems.

The website URL for the undergraduate minor, concentration or certificate (3rd program):
The name and website URLs of all other sustainability-focused undergraduate minors, concentrations and certificates:

Additional documentation to support the submission:


In addition to the undergraduate programs listed above that meet the definition of sustainability-focused (B.A in Environmental Science, B.A. in Urban Studies, Minor in Global Sustainability), UC Irvine offers a number of other sustainability-related degree programs and minors, including those listed below.

DEGREE PROGRAMS (sustainability-related):

B.S. Civil Engineering

B.S. Earth System Science

B.S. Ecology & Evolutionary Biology

B.S. Environmental Engineering

B.S. Mechanical Engineering

B.A. Public Health Policy

B.S. Public Health Sciences

B.A. Social Ecology

MINORS (sustainability-related):

Minor in Civic and Community Engagement

Minor in Earth and Atmospheric Sciences

Minor in Public Health

Minor in Social Ecology

Minor in Urban Studies

Minor in Urban and Regional Planning

The information presented here is self-reported. While AASHE staff review portions of all STARS reports and institutions are welcome to seek additional forms of review, the data in STARS reports are not verified by AASHE. If you believe any of this information is erroneous or inconsistent with credit criteria, please review the process for inquiring about the information reported by an institution or simply email your inquiry to stars@aashe.org.