Writing in Environmental Studies

Environmental studies is a broad discipline that explores humans and their relationship with the natural environment. The discipline encompasses ecology and environmental science, as well as policy, law, economics, and sociology. It is important to remember that nearly any topic can be studied in terms of its relationship with the natural environment, which is why the field is interdisciplinary.

Given this interdisciplinary nature, writing in environmental studies is also quite interdisciplinary. Common types of writing you may encounter include lab reports, response or reflection papers, research papers, and practicum write-ups. This page contains some tips and strategies that will hopefully prove useful as you come across these different kinds of writing in your ENVS classes.

The Four ENVS Tracks

There are four tracks for Environmental Studies at the University of Vermont:

  • College of Agriculture and Life Sciences- B.S. focused in natural/social sciences
  • College of Arts and Sciences- B.A. focused in liberal arts
  • Rubenstein School of Environment and Natural Resources- B.S. focused in natural resource labs and ecology
  • College of Education and Social Services- B.A. focused in environmental education

Courses are taken across numerous departments: up to 30 credits can be non- ENVS, environmentally related courses.

All Tracks are Writing Intensive

All four tracks must follow the ENVS core courses, developing strong writing and communication skills:

  • Weekly writing assignments involving reflections, analysis of environmental writing, and research papers
  • Professional development writing, involving self-reflection, research, resumes, and academic plans
  • Senior Capstones- option of doing thesis (the most writing intensive track), a project/internship (and writing an extensive paper as well), or three 200-level ENVS courses (least writing intensive)

Writing Expectations across all ENVS courses

  • In-depth reflection and systems thinking
  • Cross-disciplinary perspectives
  • Strong communication and persuasion skills
  • Individual research and hands-on research, along with a synthesis of information and data collected
  • Holistic understanding of environmental issues, and the way that environmental studies permeates all aspects of life (ecology principles that all things are interdependent and connected)
  • Analysis of personal values and cultural norms across the globe
  • Awareness of writer’s own perspective and understanding of how writer’s experience influences their own worldview

Papers usually involve

  • Controversial topics and intense issues with multifaceted viewpoints
  • International and cultural themes
  • Scholarly research
  • The use of APA style citation