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.
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.).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Examines the principles and tools for groundwater management and stewardship of groundwater resources in the US and includes examples drawn from global groundwater management challenges.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
This course will examine the science of climate change with a focus on those issues most relevant to policy makers. Professor Lea will draw on his experience serving as science advisor to the Special Envoy on Climate Change in the U.S. Department of State. Topics include: Climate Forcing Agents and their Efficacy; Climate Sensitivity and Feedbacks; Anthropogenic Climate Change; Extreme Events; Energy and Greenhouse Gas Emissions; Global Temperature Limits and Mitigation Scenarios; and Geoengineering. Discussion will focus on topical issues at the nexus of climate policy and science, such as mitigation of short-lived climate pollutants like black carbon.
Biological changes in response to climate, their causes, emerging conservation responses and policy implications.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Examination of physical, chemical and geological processes in coastal ecosystems, including estuaries, that are influenced by human activities. Focus centers on dynamical processes that control biological communities and resources, and the relationship of the science to marine resource management and policy.
In this course, students develop concepts for new environmental ventures. Topics include customer discovery, industry analysis, market opportunity assessment and value proposition design.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
This course explores the law and policy of how we use nature - timber, mining, bioversity, fisheries, water rights, and agriculture. It describes the historical and constitutional geography of American public lands: the national parks, forests, wilderness system, and grazing lands, and disputes over federal versus local control of these. There is special attention to the historical and political origins of our competing ideas of how nature matters and what we should do with it, from economically productive use to outdoor recreation to preserving the natural world for its own sake.
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.
Introduces students to practical applications of business sustainability across a range of companies and problems. For the class sessions, students will be presented with an environmental problem currently faced by a corporate environmental manager. Students will prepare potential solutions and workshop the problem with the manager during the class session, looking for creative ways to help solve the problem.
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.
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.
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.
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 the evolving economics of different energy technologies and fuels, and the markets and regulations that govern different energy subsectors. Drawing on concepts, methods, and examples from engineering and economics, we will cover a range of topics including wholesale electricity and fossil fuel markets, electric power systems, energy project valuation, electricity planning and resource adequacy, auctions, retail rate design, externalities, and energy equity and justice.
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.
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.
Advanced topics in climate and energy.
Advanced, special topics in environmental law. May be repeated for credit with changes in content.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Advanced, special topics in environmental policy. May be repeated for credit with changes in content.
Advanced, special topics in environmental innovation and entrepreneurship. May be repeated for credit with changes in content.
Advanced, special topics in environmental science. May be repeated for credit with changes in content.
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.
Second quarter of a year-long group study of an environmental problem.
Third quarter of a year-long group study of an environmental problem. Requires completion of a final report, and defense.
Fourth quarter of a year-long group study of an environmental problem. Requires completion of a policy brief, poster, and public presentation.
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.
Second quarter of a year-long team project to develop a new environmental venture.
Third quarter of a year-long team project to develop a new environmental venture. Requires completion of a final report and defense.
Fourth quarter of a year-long team project to develop a new environmental venture. Requires completion of marketing communication materials and a public presentation.
Students complete a summer internship, prepare a short paper, and present internship experiences to the Bren School community through an informal presentation.
Special workshops to help Bren students strengthen communication skills.
Workshops to develop professional skills for careers in Environmental Science & Management.
This course is intended to build off other Bren courses and focus on current issues pertaining to the National Environmental Policy Act (“NEPA”) and California Environmental Quality Act (“CEQA”). The instructor will also provide a brief overview of the statutes to support the case illustrations that will be discussed in class. For case studies the instructor has selected local issues involving threats from on- and offshore oil development, as well as logging. The instructor will discuss the application of NEPA and CEQA to these issues, and provide examples of how the public can invoke the requirements of NEPA and CEQA to ensure that environmental concerns are considered by decision-makers. In addition to the lecture, the instructor will provide related optional reading materials.
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.
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.
Explores how people perceive and interpret graphical representations, and how information visualization frameworks can apply to design intuitive and impactful data visualizations. Students explore storytelling with data -- integration of visual elements and text in a way that is clear, concise and engaging. Assignments involve applying such frameworks and concepts in critique of existing visualizations, and in creation of data visualizations using Tableau and students’ preferred software.
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.
Environmental solutions are only as effective as your ability to communicate them-- and story is one of the most important tools you have to engage your audiences. In this course you will learn how to develop compelling stories using conflict, drama, and character. You will also gain an understanding of the complex media environment in which your messages compete for attention. To build skills, you will also practice messaging for different audiences, and craft your own stories.
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.
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.
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.
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.