Academic Requirements (80 total units)
8 Core Courses (30 units) to develop breadth
- ESM 201 Ecology of Managed Ecosystems
- ESM 202 Environmental Biogeochemistry
- ESM 203 Earth System Science
- ESM 204 Economics of Environmental Management
- ESM 206 Statistics & Data Analysis for Environmental Science & Management
- ESM 207 Environmental Law and Policy
- ESM 210 Business and the Environment
- ESM 241 Environmental Politics and Policy
Electives courses in a specialization (36 units) to develop depth
Varies by specialization
Master’s Group Project or Eco-Entrepreneurship Project (14 units) to develop professional problem-solving skills
- ESM 401 ABCD Masters Group Project
- ESM 402 ABCD Masters Eco-E Project
- Elective courses in a second specialization
- Elective courses in Environmental Innovation and Entrepreneurship focus
- Elective courses in Strategic Environmental Communication and Media focus
Courses marked with an asterisk (*) will be offered every other year.
ESM 201 Ecology of Managed Ecosystems
Principles of individual ecology, population ecology, community ecology, and ecosystem ecology. Emphasis on applications (conservation, resource management, ecological effects of pollution and habitat fragmentation, etc.).
ESM 202 Environmental Biogeochemistry
Biogeochemical processes as applied to the Earth’s atmosphere, oceans, land, and inland waters, and applications to environmental issues such as eutrophication, toxic pollution, carbon sequestration, and acidification.
ESM 203 Earth System Science
Interactions among the atmosphere, oceans, and land and models of Earth’s climate and hydrology. Application of knowledge about the Earth System in environmental management and policy.
ESM 204 Economics of Environmental Management
Environmental regulation (incentives, command, and control), asymmetric information (cost revelation and auditing), regulatory incidence, dynamics and discounting, exhaustible and renewable resources, valuation, environmental macroeconomics, trade and the environment, and comparative regulatory analysis.
ESM 206 Statistics & Data Analysis for Environmental Science & Management
Develop skills and conceptual framework to effectively use data to solve practical problems. Topics include descriptive statistics, hypothesis testing, experimental design, exploratory data analysis, probability and uncertainty, time series analysis, and spatial stats. Emphasis of case studies from environmental problems.
ESM 207 Environmental Law and Policy
Basic elements of the legal system as it specifically relates to environmental issues. Study of the different stages and different institutions involved in environmental policy making.
ESM 210 Business and the Environment
Introduces students to business objectives and structure and discusses new business models and tools that incorporate principles of environmental management and corporate performance. It highlights corporate strategies that deliver value to shareholders while responding to environmental concerns.
ESM 211 Applied Population Ecology
Examination of the application of population ecology to conservation of rare species and management of harvested populations. Topics include populations regulation, population viability analysis, fisheries management, metapopulation dynamics, and populations monitoring.
ESM 212 Biological Community Survey & Analysis
This spring break intensive course will introduce students to the principles and practice of designing and executing field sampling campaigns to characterize, map, and inventory plant and animal communities. The course will review basic sampling theory, introduce survey methods for terrestrial vegetation, terrestrial vertebrates and invertebrates, as well as aquatic invertebrates. Students will gain experience with multivariate analysis of community data, as well as methods for vegetation and species habitat mapping and modeling. Learning objectives and activities will be primarily field-based, and will take place at UCSB’s Sedgwick and Coal Oil Point Reserves.
ESM 214 Biological Waste Treatment *
Concepts and approaches to correct and alleviate the effects of environmental pollution using biological processes. Biochemical, ecological, and physiochemical aspects of remediation and mitigation. Assessing and monitoring applicability/efficacy of biological treatment. Natural and engineered methods for adversely affected biological resources.
ESM 215 Landscape Ecology
This course will explore emergent patterns in landscape structure (physical, biological, and cultural) and linkages to ecological processes. The role of ecosystem pattern, for both landscapes and seascapes, will be explored via mass and energy transfers, disturbance regimes, species’ persistence, applications of remote sensing, and GIS for landscape characterization and modeling.
ESM 219 Microbial Processes in the Environment *
Microbes are the most abundant organisms on earth and are responsible for most biogeochemical cycling. Who and where are they, what do they do, and how? This course provides an integrated understanding applicable to managing the environment and natural resources.
ESM 222 Pollution Risk Management
Transport and biogeochemical transformation of pollutants in the environment. Review of pollutant properties and media characteristics that affect transport, accumulation, and degradation of pollutants. Basic tools for managing pollutants in the environment, including prevention, detection, and remediation.
ESM 224 Sustainable Water Resources Management
Integrates environmental science and management to address sustainable watershed management. Learn the elements of a watershed management plan and become familiar with the planning process that takes into consideration various issues and concerns and provides concrete actions to address them. Addresses both water quantity and quality issues in a comprehensive approach.
ESM 225 Water Policy
Water policy broadly comprises the structures, processes, rules, and institutions that we use to manage water resources. This course will provide an overview of water policies at global, national, statewide, and local scales, across public and private sectors. The course will look back into history at how and why these policies were developed, and forward into the future at how they can be improved to meet 21st century realities, particularly climate change.
ESM 228 Monitoring & Evaluation *
Evidence-based programming and policymaking are now priorities for many nonprofit organizations and public agencies, including those that deal with environment, energy, climate change, and natural resource management. At the heart of this approach is monitoring and evaluation, which help organizations learn about the effectiveness of policies and programs so that they can make better decisions about using scarce resources. This course provides an overview of the considerations and techniques involved with setting up monitoring and evaluation systems within public and nonprofit organizations that are designed to promote learning about the efficacy, effectiveness, and impact of policies and programs.
ESM 229 Economics & Policy of Climate Change
Anthropogenic climate change is one of the biggest challenges facing modern society. Economics provide a powerful intellectual foundation for understanding and analyzing many of these challenges. This course employs insights and tools from economics to understand climate change impacts, the design of mitigation and adaptation policies, and the consequences of these policies. Special attention will be paid to how climate impacts and policies could exacerbate or alleviate existing social inequities. Lectures are designed to help students become critically-minded practitioners of climate policy by using empirical evidence and economic reasoning. Problem sets expand students’ skillsets in statistical analysis and numerical modeling.
ESM 230 Strategic Planning for Social Impact *
Developing a strategic direction for a nonprofit, government agency or philanthropic organization. Topics include the strategy development process, stakeholder analysis, vision and mission, strategic positioning, plan implementation and measuring success.
ESM 231 Creating Value through Environmental Solutions
In this practicum, students explore environmental challenges faced by a specific corporation and identify opportunities to improve environmental impact through business model innovation. Working on a team with an industry mentor, students evaluate the financial potential, expected social/environmental impact and innovation risks of their ideas. Practical application of theory and tools from ESM 281.
ESM 232 Environmental Modeling
Introduction to the development, evaluation, interpretation, and presentation of models as applied to environmental problems. Course will consist of theory and many practical examples building and interpreting models using computers.
ESM 233 Testing Innovation Opportunities and Organizational Readiness
In this practicum, students test a business model innovation designed to improve environmental impact for a specific corporation. Working on a team with an industry mentor, students conduct customer and market research to validate their idea and assess their corporation’s innovation culture. Practical application of theory and tools from ESM 281.
ESM 235 Watershed Analysis
Hydrologic and geomorphic basis of environmental management problems concerning land surfaces and channels in small drainage basins, particularly the effects of land use and engineered alteration to stream channels. Emphasis placed in the integrated application of both theory and field methods to analyze existing conditions, evaluate the potential effectiveness of alternative solutions, and understand the limitations imposed by intrinsic watershed conditions and other human constraints. Implications for in-stream biota and water quality are acknowledged but not emphasized in this course.
ESM 237 Climate Change Impacts and Adaptation
Global climate change may dramatically alter water resources and the ecosystems that depend upon them. This course will provide an overview of research on current and projected future hydro-ecological impacts of a changing climate at local to global scales.
ESM 240 Climate Change Biology *
Biological changes in response to climate, their causes, emerging conservation responses and policy implications.
ESM 241 Environmental Politics and Policy
The politics of environmental policy-making from agenda formation to the stages of implementation, assessment, and reforms. Emphasis on national and state level policy-making in the U.S. coupled with a consideration of interactions across levels of social organization and comparisons across socio-political systems.
ESM 242 Natural Resource Economics and Policy
Economic principles and policy issues in the use of exhaustible and renewable resources including fossil fuels, water, minerals, fisheries, forests, and biodiversity. Management of resource markets on a regional or international scale.
ESM 243 Environmental Policy Analysis
Developing and analyzing environmental policies involves balancing social, political, and economic considerations. Course covers this process, including problem identification, formation of alternative policy response, and methods of analyzing and selecting the most appropriate policy response, and effective communications of results to clients/policymakers.
ESM 244 Advanced Data Analysis
Learn to use specialized data analysis techniques commonly employed in ESM. Topics include: environmental monitoring, incorporating methods for censored data and for time series; spatial data interpolation and prediction; and multi-criteria decision analysis.
ESM 245 Cost-Benefit Analysis and Non-market Valuation
Economic theory of environmental policy, with special emphasis on the role of cost-benefit analysis. Techniques for estimating economic values for non-market environmental resources. Case studies involving ecosystem protection, pollution control, and other topics to illustrate the necessary analytical tools.
ESM 248 Environmental Institutions
Comparative study of management systems or regimes addressing natural resources and environmental concerns and operating at scales ranging from local to global. Topics include characterization of individual regimes and factors affecting the formation, evolution, and effectiveness of these institutional arrangements.
ESM 254 Coastal Marine Ecosystems, Quantitative Fisheries Science Edition
Fisheries science and the quantitative methods developed for producing scientific advice for management are excellent case studies for students seeking to work at the forefront of solving critical environmental problems. This course demonstrates that quantitative marine ecology can transcend traditional and siloed academic exercises to be used to serve the communities that rely on living marine resources.
ESM 256B Value Proposition Design for New Environmental Ventures
In this course, students develop concepts for new environmental ventures. Topics include customer discovery, industry analysis, market opportunity assessment and value proposition design.
ESM 257 Coastal Marine Policy & Management
Conceptual approaches and analytical tools used in marine ecosystem management, marine biodiversity protection, and integrative watershed planning. Review of relevant international, federal and state marine policies and programs.
ESM 260 Applied Marine Ecology
The application of ecological science to environmental problem-solving in marine ecosystems. Emphasis on marine ecological theories, processes, and methods necessary to distinguish the ecological impacts caused by human activities from those caused by natural disturbance and other processes. Students focus on the presentation, interpretation, and analysis of data, read primary scientific literature and a few key textbook chapters, produce a grant proposal, and present their grant ideas orally. There are no exams in this course.
ESM 262 Computing for Environmental Science and Management
Introduction to computing for data management, analysis and modelling for environmental applications. The course provides MESM students with the basic computing and programming skills used in data science. Topics include: the basic computing environment (hardware and operating systems); programming language concepts; program design; data management, data structures and implementation; software tools; workflows, version control, and reproducibility; generic analytical techniques (relational algebra, graphical analysis, visualization, etc.); and specific characteristics of environmental information.
ESM 263 Geographic Information Systems
Advanced introduction to GIS theory and technology, emphasizing spatial analysis and cartographic presentation. Typical algorithms and data structures. Role of GIS in environmental information management. Integration of GIS with other analytical tools.
ESM 269 Survey Design and Environmental Public Opinion
Issues of survey design, including sampling, questionnaire design, data collection and data processing. Students will design and field an original survey, analyze the survey data and report the results.
ESM 270 Conservation Planning & Priority Setting
Analytical approaches that can be used to direct energy and resources toward conservation that yields the greatest return on investment. Case studies of how government agencies, international multilateral institutions and non-governmental agencies identify where to invest their conservation efforts.
ESM 270P Conservation Planning Practicum
In depth development and analysis of a specific conservation plan, from start (goal setting) to finish (spatially explicit recommendations). Practical application of theory and tools from ESM270. If appropriate, MESM Group Project locations can be used as the case study.
ESM 271 Carbon Footprints & Carbon Accounting
Using the BSI’s PAS 2050, the WRI’s GHG Protocols, and the ISO14067, basic skills and knowledge necessary to establish corporate carbon accounts and to calculate carbon footprints will be covered.
ESM 273 Life Cycle Assessment
Advanced introduction to life cycle assessment (LCA) tools and practice. Students will conduct an LCA according to ISO 14040/44 (2006) using professional LCA software. Goal and scope definition, parametric life cycle inventory modeling, impact assessment, sensitivity analysis, reporting.
ESM 277 International Environmental Law *
This short course provides a general introduction to international environmental law and policy. After reviewing the rise of the international environment agenda, the course concentrates on how societies have responded to global-scale environmental challenges, including biodiversity loss, climate change, ozone depletion, and the loss of living marine resources. The principal response to date has been in the area of international environmental law and policy, where a major new field of law and diplomacy has developed and new multilateral institutions created.
ESM 279 Financial Management and Environmental Accounting
Corporate financial management and reporting and environmental accounting. Function of stock markets, discounted cash flows, investment appraisal and decisions, valuation of bonds and stocks, the capital structure decision, the accounting model, management and control of enterprises, financial reporting and financial statement analysis.
ESM 281 Corporate Environmental Management
Prepares students to use creatively conceptual tools and management strategies to improve the environmental performance of firms. Corporate, societal, and political barriers to implementing these innovative strategies will be analyzed and methods for overcoming these constraints discussed.
ESM 282 Pollution Prevention
An alternative to pollution control or remediation is to prevent it in the first place. This can be achieved through increased efficiency, material and technology substitution, and reuse and recycling. This course introduces pollution prevention through theory building and case studies. It also teaches and applies pertinent concepts and tools from industrial ecology.
ESM 284 Sustainable Product Development *
Product development includes conceptualization of customer needs and product ideation, user-based market research, competitive benchmarking, and consideration of product specifications, supply chains, and production characteristics to launch successful products. This course leverages this approach but with the application of environmental criteria, metrics, and impact estimation to identify product solutions that address both market and environmental needs, including through the use of materials and process environmental datasets, life-cycle and systems thinking, green design principles, comparative analysis, and the leveraging and application of environmental certification criteria.
ESM 287 Energy Demand Analysis
Develop an in-depth understanding of past and future societal demand for energy across major end use sectors (buildings, transport, industry); develop and apply fundamental analysis techniques and systems modeling skills to construct energy demand forecasts and alternative scenarios considering possible technological, behavioral, and policy interventions for more sustainable energy use.
ESM 288 Energy, Technology and the Environment
Covers the main physical principles of energy conversion and the environmental impacts related to it. Also explores the balance between resource availability and demand, and the relationship between energy use and technology.
ESM 293 Advanced Special Topics in Climate and Energy
Advanced topics in climate and energy.
ESM 293-1S Advanced Special Topics in Climate and Energy: Energy Economics and Markets
The energy sector is undergoing a profound transition as we move towards lower carbon resources, phase out fossil fuels, and increasingly electrify end-uses. The direction and pace of this transition to a large extent, will depend on technology development and its economics, regulations, and markets. This course will cover the evolving economics of different energy technologies and fuels, and the markets and regulations that govern different energy subsectors. Topics include electric power systems and wholesale markets, energy project valuation, electricity planning and resource adequacy, auctions, rate design, externalities, energy equity and justice, fossil fuel markets, and more. Activities include an electricity markets simulation game and other group projects.
ESM 294 Advanced Special Topics in Environmental Law
Advanced, special topics in environmental law. May be repeated for credit with changes in content.
ESM 295A Equity and the Environment
This seminar-style course provides an overview and foundational understanding of environmental justice. We begin by examining different attempts to define “environmental justice,” finding ways to start applying it, and understanding it in the context of environmental racism, history, and colonialism. The remaining classes are devoted to exploring special topics in environmental justice, such as water, energy, pollution, coastal resources, conservation, and corporate management. Each class is discussion-based, relying on case studies, relevant papers, student presentations, and guest lecturers. The ultimate goal of this course is to help you identify and define environmental injustices you see.
ESM 295B Advanced Topics in Environmental Justice
This course considers what it means to rectify environmental injustices and create meaningful change. Understanding historic and systemic oppression, silenced voices, colonialism, racism, and lack of representation of marginalized groups is essential knowledge for anyone working in the environmental field. But where do we go from here? This course considers ways that we can co-develop equitable solutions and share power and access responsibly—with sensitivity, creativity, and resourcefulness. Building on concepts introduced in ESM 295A: Equity & Environment, this course challenges students to collaborate and create smart responses to some difficult social and environmental realities, through case studies, group work, and guest speakers.
ESM 296 Advanced Special Topics in Environmental Management
Advanced, special topics in environmental management. May be repeated for credit with changes in content.
ESM 296-1F Advanced Special Topics in Environmental Management: Science and Management for Forest Sustainability
This course provides a graduate-level introduction to forest sustainability from an applied interdisciplinary research and environmental problem-solving perspective. The course meets weekly, with each week covering a different aspect of forest science (e.g., forest ecohydrology) or management (e.g., wildfire policy). The material will be covered through readings as well as lectures and discussions led by faculty experts from the Bren School and beyond. In addition, students will develop a research proposal (PhD) or group project proposal (MESM) related to forest sustainability. Students will present their proposal in the final week of the course; in the past, many of the proposals have been selected to launch as Group Projects the following spring.
ESM 296-1S Advanced Special Topics in Environmental Management: Corporate Environmental Management Seminar
This course introduces students to practical applications of corporate environmental management through 3-hour sessions, each taught by a practicing sustainability executive. For each session, students will be presented an environmental problem that the visiting speaker is currently working on. During the course sessions, the class will workshop the problem with the visiting speaker, looking for creative ways to help solve the problem.
ESM 296-2F Advanced Topics in Environmental Management: Conservation Results
This seminar actively engages students in understanding how to accomplish conservation outcomes through 1) governmental processes – passing legislation/ballot measures and creating protected areas, 2) nonprofit organization initiatives – conserving landscapes, and 3) multi-party negotiations. The course uses case studies, actively engages students in discussions, and includes conservation experts to share practical experiences and lessons learned. Objectives are to understand ways to create durable solutions for conservation, learn how to navigate critical public and private processes, and gain valuable insights from perspectives of many different players. The course integrates diverse perspectives and issues related to equity and inclusion throughout the course and in the discussions.
ESM 296-2S Advanced Special Topics in Environmental Management: Environmental Planning
This 2-unit seminar is intended to introduce students to the principles and practice of environmental planning with an emphasis on environmental planning in the United States. Specific objectives include: a general understanding of planning processes and tools, exploration of the relationship between planning and public policy, and exposure to environmental planning in practice in California.
ESM 296-3S Advanced Special Topics in Environmental Management: Conservation Management In Practice
This short course uses case studies, group discussion and lecture to survey and examine the practice and realities of conservation. Students will gain insight into the challenges faced in implementing conservation as a profession and how to accomplish tangible results, and will leave with resources, ideas and perspectives to help them pursue their goals and achieve impact. Different potential career paths will be discussed, with an emphasis on non-profit organizations and their activities. This course is designed for students considering a career in conservation who may not have extensive practical experience, or for those re-examining their career focus.
ESM 297 Advanced Special Topics in Environmental Policy
Advanced, special topics in environmental policy. May be repeated for credit with changes in content.
ESM 298 Advanced Special Topics in Environmental Innovation & Entrepreneurship
Advanced, special topics in environmental innovation and entrepreneurship. May be repeated for credit with changes in content.
ESM 299 Advanced Special Topics in Environmental Science
Advanced, special topics in environmental science. May be repeated for credit with changes in content.
ESM 401A Masters Group Project
First quarter of a year-long group study of an environmental problem. Includes in-class training sessions to develop skills necessary to efficiently and effectively conduct the study.
ESM 401B Masters Group Project
Second quarter of a year-long group study of an environmental problem.
ESM 401C Masters Group Project
Third quarter of a year-long group study of an environmental problem. Requires completion of a final report, and defense.
ESM 401D Masters Group Project
Fourth quarter of a year-long group study of an environmental problem. Requires completion of a policy brief, poster, and public presentation.
ESM 402A Business Model Development for New Environmental Ventures
Teaches students how to practice evidence-based entrepreneurship and rigorously evaluate a business idea that could make a positive and measurable environmental impact. Students test their assumptions and gather evidence to reduce risk and uncertainty, in order to develop a viable business model.
ESM 402B Masters Eco-E Project
Second quarter of a year-long team project to develop a new environmental venture.
ESM 402C Masters Eco-E Project
Third quarter of a year-long team project to develop a new environmental venture. Requires completion of a final report and defense.
ESM 402D Masters Eco-E Project
Fourth quarter of a year-long team project to develop a new environmental venture. Requires completion of marketing communication materials and a public presentation.
ESM 410 Internship Practicum
Students complete a summer internship, prepare a short paper, and present internship experiences to the Bren School community through an informal presentation.
ESM 425 Workshops in Communication
Special workshops to help Bren students strengthen communication skills.
ESM 430 Workshops in Environmental Science & Management
Workshops to develop professional skills for careers in Environmental Science & Management.
ESM 437 Writing Skills for Environmental Professionals
This course will provide you the skills to write effectively across academic and applied genres in the environmental sciences. A focus on writing mechanics and the principles of good scientific and analytical writing will help you de-clutter and streamline your work. We’ll review the importance of thesis, audience, tone, organization and structure, document design, and citations. We will also cover writing styles and formats you’ll likely encounter in your career, such as research and project proposals, evaluations and data summaries, policy analyses, writing for the public, and professional correspondence. You will practice “two kinds of thinking” essential to effective writing: free-form and creative brainstorming, followed by critical assessment and revision of your work. Classes will include lectures, discussions, in-class activities, and peer review workshops.This class is also designed to help nonnative English speakers improve accuracy and fluency in academic and applied writing in the environmental sciences; it is strongly encouraged for all incoming international students.
ESM 438 Presentation Skills for Environmental Professionals
This five week, graduate level course is an intensive dive into public speaking skills for environmental professionals. In lectures, all 20 students will learn about various topics around giving presentations (e.g., appropriate tone, designing slides, outlining talks, answering questions) and practice these skills through individual and group active learning exercises. Prior to and during labs, groups of 10 students will prepare and practice presentations on components of their environmental science research projects (introduction, methods, conclusions), giving and receiving feedback to improve delivery and design. Each lab will sequentially build, culminating in a full 12-15 minute talk per student.
ESM 440 Strategic Environmental Communication
Successful environmental communication is not just about getting the facts right. Before tackling an issue, it's critical to consider the intended audiences and their values and attitudes--and to use effective storytelling to reach them. To learn to message effectively, students will study the theory behind persuasion and decision-making, including how reason, emotion, and social influence work, and practice writing for a diversity of audiences, including the general public, policymakers, and funders. Students will also learn how to develop compelling stories from good ideas, using conflict, drama, and character, and gain an understanding of the complex media environment in which their messages compete for attention.
ESM 440A Strategic Environmental Communication
Successful environmental communication is not just about getting the facts right. Before tackling an issue, it's critical to consider the intended audiences and their values and attitudes. In this class you will study communication theory, including how logic, emotion, persuasion, and social influence work. You will also learn about strategic messaging and outreach to achieve your communication goals.
ESM 441 Introduction to Environmental Media Production
This course is designed to give students the basic skills needed to conceptualize, capture, edit, and deliver short-form video content with an environmental theme. Industry standards of cinematography, sound, lighting, and digital editing are covered. Through lectures and practical demonstrations of production equipment and techniques, students will gain an introductory understanding of video production.
ESM 442 Communication for Civic Engagement & Grassroots Organizing
Reviews the role and effectiveness of grassroots environmental efforts on local, statewide, and national scales. Students will explore organizing strategies and tactics based on various theories of change, addressing topics such as community outreach and collaboration, policy campaigning and more.
ESM 449 Environmental Communication Practicum
This capstone course will give students the opportunity to apply their knowledge and communication skills in a practical setting. Working in teams with diverse skills, students will develop and implement their own information campaign in association with an environmental firm, organization, local or regional government, or other institution. Students may choose to use the environmental issue(s) explored in their Group Project or Eco-Entrepreneurship Project, or another topic.
ESM 596 Directed Readings and Research
Independent study under the supervision of a Bren School faculty member (a faculty member from another department cannot supervise an ESM 596 course). Registration requires an ESM 596 Petition approved and signed by the supervising faculty member and the Assistant Dean before the start of the quarter. No petitions will be accepted after the 3rd week of the quarter. The ESM 596 Petition can be found on the Bren School website on the Class Schedule page. Registration in ESM 596 requires an “instructor code” that can be found on the Bren School website on the instructor's individual page. ESM 596 may be taken for a letter grade or S/U (as agreed upon by the instructor and the student). ESM 596 is a variable unit course; MESM students may apply a maximum of 4 units of ESM 596 towards their MESM degree requirements.