Environmental and Natural Resource Economics

How can we create a sustainable society that protects the environment while maintaining a prosperous society? Why have humans caused environmental degradation on local, regional, and global scales, and what can we do about it? Public officials, nonprofit organizations, and private businesses need professionals who can answer these questions in order to design a new sustainable world.

As a major in environmental economics, you will learn tools that can help answer these questions.  The environmental economics major integrates the natural sciences with economics to help us understand why many of earth’s natural resources are under threat and how we can design policies to address these threats. This major teaches students to weigh options and make important decisions concerning the protection, restoration, development, and use of our natural resources. The major prepares students for graduate school or for careers in the public and private sector that address environmental and natural resource management, business, or public policy. Professionals in these fields play an important role in coordinating interdisciplinary teams to address such complex problems. Graduates gain an understanding of both natural sciences and the economy.

The degree requires a minimum of 120 credits, including 24 credits in concentration credits. In addition to satisfying the general education requirements, students need 9 credits in introductory professional courses, including natural resource conservation (NRS 100), introductory resource economics (EEC 105), and resource management (EEC 205). The major also requires a minimum of three credits in communication skills beyond the general education requirements.  It is also possible to get a double major in Environmental Economics and General Business, which we call the Green Business double major.

The major is comprised of two options: Green Markets and Sustainability (GMS) and Environmental Economics and Management (EEM). The two options are discussed below.

Option 1: Green Markets and Sustainability (GMS). This option is for students who wish to develop a deep understanding of social and economic systems as they relate to a sustainable environment. This option is designed to provide considerable flexibility so students can focus their studies to meet their professional goals. Twenty-four credits in concentration courses are required at the 300 level or above, including 15 credits in environmental and natural resource economics (EEC), three credits in microeconomic theory (ECN 328), and 6 credits in other concentration courses selected by students, selected in consultation with their advisors. Up to 9 concentration credits may be in economics (ECN) or business (BUS). A minimum of 21 credits in basic and supporting sciences are required, including three credits in mathematics, introductory geology (GEO 100 or 103), introductory biology (BIO 101/103 or 105), and introductory chemistry (CHM 100, 101, or 103). Introductory calculus (MTH 131) is strongly recommended, especially for students who are considering going to graduate school. Supporting sciences can be selected from a broad range of subjects including business (BUS 210 and 212 only), mathematics, statistics, computer science, natural resources science, physics, genetics, plant physiology, biology, ecology, chemistry, geology, or oceanography. An additional 25–27 credits in supporting electives allow the student either to develop a closely related focus area (e.g., green business) or to sample from a broad set of relevant courses.

Option 2: Environmental Economics and Management (EEM). This option is for students who seek a balanced focus on environmental sciences and environmental economics. The option requires 36 credits of basic sciences, including at least eight credits in general biology (BIO 101/103, 102/104); four credits in general chemistry (CHM 101/102 or 103/105); introductory soil science (NRS 212); 3 credits in introductory ecology (BIO 262); 4 credits in introductory geology (GEO 103); 3 credits in introductory calculus (MTH 131); and 3 credits in introductory statistics (STA 308). The 24-credit concentration includes a minimum of 12 concentration credits in environmental and resource economics (listed under EEC), including economics of natural resource management and policy (EEC 310) and a capstone course in environmental economics and policy (EEC 432), as well as six additional credits  selected to meet the student’s particular interests. Students are also required to take a minimum of 12 concentration credits selected from ecology, soils and watersheds, and geosciences. Students choose a minimum of 20 credits in supporting electives and 8 credits in free electives.

Green Business. The Department of Environmental and Natural Resource Economics and the College of Business Administration offer a double degree in environmental economics and general business. This program is designed for those interested in corporate sustainability, energy efficiency, non-profit management, green marketing, renewable energy, global environmental challenges, environmental policy, and energy finance. Students earn a B.S. in Environmental and Natural Resource Economics from the College of the Environment and Life Sciences and a B.S. in Business Administration from the College of Business Administration. More details on this program can be found at web.uri.edu/enre/double-major-in-business-and-environmental-economics.