Earth, Society, & Environmental Sustainability

Major Description

Earth, Society, and Environmental Sustainability (ESES) offers a unique, multidisciplinary program in which students will learn about the interconnectedness of environmental, economic, and social systems of the world; the implications of our actions on the environment; factors that determine the sustainability of human institutions, organizations, cultures, and technologies; finding solutions through innovative approaches; and expanding future options by practicing environmental stewardship. Following the classical definition of sustainability, the aim is to develop citizens, businesses, and societies that meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to do the same.


Students select one concentration in consultation with an academic advisor:


A rigorous scientific program in the geophysical and ecological sciences focused on the complexity and interactions of natural systems.

 balanced cross-disciplinary social science/humanities education, emphasizing the political, socio-cultural, economic, and historical dimensions of sustainability.

Courses That Introduce the Major:
  • ESE 100 — Sustainable Earth
  • ESE 200 — Earth Systems
  • ESE 210 — Social & Environmental Systems
  • ESE 222 — Big Rivers
  • ESE 289 — Environmental & Sustainability Field Studies

Students should consult with an academic advisor regarding course selection prior to the advanced registration period.

Possible Career Opportunities:

ESE students have gone on to graduate programs across the country - in Medicine, Law, Biology, Public Affairs, Journalism and more - and careers for organizations large and small, including positions in environmental consulting, business consulting, sustainability management, teaching, wetlands restoration, the Peace Corps and environmental engineering.

  • Analyze data
  • Communication
  • Data collection
  • Plan investigations
  • Teamwork
  • Understand and interpret information including quantitative data
  • Environmental Communications Expert
  • Environmental Consultant
  • Environmental Lawyer
  • Environmental Legislative Liaison
  • Environmental Manager
  • Environmental Planner
  • Environmental Policy Analyst
  • Environmental Researcher
  • Environmental Specialist
  • Sustainability Consultant
  • Sustainability Officer
  • Urban Planner

Some careers may require education beyond an undergraduate degree.

Enhancing Your Academic Experience:
  • Participating in undergraduate research
  • Applying for a study abroad experience
  • Utilizing resources of The Career Center
  • Joining a Registered Student Organization (RSO) related to this major, such as:
    • Students for Environmental Concerns: educates and informs students and community members about environmental issues and works towards positive environmental change on a national, statewide, and local level.
    • Eco Illini Supermileage Vehicle Team: designs and fabricates a highly fuel efficient car to compete annually in the Shell Eco-Marathon Americas Competition.
    • Student Sustainability Committee: Funds environmental and sustainability projects across campus
Further Information:

There are several professional organizations dedicated to Earth, Society and Environmental Sustainability.  Their websites might be able to provide a glimpse in the world of Earth, Society and Environmental Sustainability.  These organizations include Ecological Society of AmericaNational Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, and National Council for Science and the Environment.