Stanford has fundamentally changed the way it conducts research and education on issues related to the environment by emphasizing interdisciplinary research. Just as the Stanford Woods Institute serves as a hub for researchers working across disciplines, various academic units on campus provide interdisciplinary environmental education. Some examples of continuing education courses associated with the Stanford Woods Institute include:

  • ANTHRO 160/260: Social and Environmental Sustainability: The Costa Rican Case: Seminar focused on issues of tropical sustainability with a particular emphasis on the Osa Peninsula of Costa Rica. Offered in conjunction with the Osa Initiative in the Woods Institute for the Environment, the course highlights issues of human development in the tropics, through such means as agricultural development, ecotourism, conservation efforts, private and indigenous reserves, and mining. The course will draw from diverse disciplines including anthropology, rural sociology, conservation biology, geosciences, history, political science, and journalism. In addition to weekly discussions, students will development a research paper throughout the term which will be presented to a panel of selected Woods' Faculty during the final week of the term.
  • ENVRINST 109 (EARTHSYS 109): Creating a Green Student Workforce to Help Implement Stanford's Sustainability Vision: Examination of program-based local actions that promote resource resource conservation and an educational environment for sustainability. Examination of building-level actions that contribute to conservation, lower utility costs, and generate understanding of sustainability consistent with Stanford's commitment to sustainability as a core value. Overview of operational sustainability including energy, water, buildings, waste, and food systems. Practical training to enable students to become sustainability coordinators for their dorms or academic units.
  • ENVRES 220: The Social Ocean: Ocean Conservation, Management and Policy: This interdisciplinary seminar examines current ocean issues and ideas through a series of readings, discussions, and guest lecturer presentations of seminal works about the complex relationships of human beings to the marine world. Through the lenses offered by several classic readings, we will examine and reinterpret the challenges of fisheries collapse, climate change, shipping, marine spatial planning, biodiversity conservation, and the management of land-sea interactions. Though the seminar is open to all undergraduate and graduate students, our course is designed especially for those with a particular interest in studying and solving key issues of ocean policy and management, from coastal adaption to fisheries management to cumulative impacts assessments. In addition to this interest, students must be willing to take the time to dig deeper into the foundations of environmental thinking about the relationship of human beings and the sea.
  • ENVRINST 260: Water in the West: Challenges and Opportunities: This 3-unit course explores challenges and opportunities in the management of water resources to protect the economic, ecological, and social values of the American West. Lectures and readings will cover a wide array of subjects and take an interdisciplinary approach to issues affecting water supply, water quality, and ecosystems with an emphasis on applications to policy and practice. Invited speakers from Stanford, other universities, government agencies, business, and non-governmental organizations will discuss relevant topics such as climate change, agricultural and urban water demand, impacts on business, management of freshwater ecosystems, markets and pricing, and other topics to be determined. Class discussion will focus on potential solutions in the areas of policy, markets, technology, and other interventions. Assignments will require students to applying knowledge from readings, lectures, and discussions to practical, real-world scenarios in the form of public comments, editorials, plans, or proposals. Through this course, students will gain an understanding of the complex water landscape of the American West, how decisions affecting water resources in the West are made and may be influenced, and be able to discuss the trade-offs between different various solutions. Limited enrollment. Prerequisite: consent of instructor.

Learn more about these and other environmental courses offered by other interdisciplinary programs in the Stanford Bulletin or scan courses offered by the following programs at Stanford: 

  • Earth, Energy & Environmental Sciences (EEES)
    EEES is an academically flexible program of study that fosters interdisciplinary scientific research between the three departments within the School of Earth Sciences. It is intended for students wishing to draw on the knowledge, tools and approaches that span the breadth of research being conducted within the School. Related courses.
  • Emmett Interdisciplinary Program in Environment and Resources (E-IPER)
    Courses offered by E-IPER are listed under the subject code ENVRES in the Stanford Bulletin. E-IPER students combine academic disciplines, including natural and earth sciences, engineering, economics, humanities, social sciences, law, health, policy and business to yield new insights and novel solutions to urgent global problems, such as energy use, climate change, food security, freshwater availability, depletion of ocean resources, land degradation and biodiversity loss. Related courses.
  • Energy Resources Engineering
    Courses offered by the Energy Resources Engineering Program are listed under the subject code ENERGY in the Stanford Bulletin. Known as Petroleum Engineering until 2006, Energy Resource Engineering offers BS, MS, Engineer, and PhD degrees in Energy Resources Engineering and MS and PhD degrees in Petroleum Engineering. The program’s goal is to teach courses and perform research relevant to the production and transformation of energy resources. Related courses.
  • Earth Systems Sciences (ESS) 
    The Department of Earth System Science offers PhD and MS programs in a wide range of fields, including hydrogeology; ocean circulation; land-use change; sustainable food and water practices; climate, tectonics, and landscape evolution; ocean biogeochemistry; climate and earth system dynamics; soil and environmental biogeochemistry; molecular microbial ecology; and, geostatistics. The size and the breadth of interest of the department's faculty provide numerous opportunities for field-based research and laboratory and numerical experiments and for the most modern applications of instrumental analysis and spectroscopy to problems in the earth sciences. Related courses.
  • Geological and Environmental Sciences (GES) 
    In GES, fields of research and education encompass the entire planet from its deep interior to the surface, throughout the long span of geological time up to the human timescale. The scale of view ranges from global to atomic. Physical, chemical and biological processes as well as the unique history of the Earth are within the program’s broad scope. Related courses.