The program in Natural Resources and Environmental Science is designed to provide students with the knowledge and skills needed for a career in the rapidly growing fields of environmental science, natural resource management, and environmental policy. With global climate change and an inter-connected world economy, the conservation and management of our natural resources and sustainability of our natural environment is becoming an issue for all societies. This curriculum provides students with exposure to a broad array of disciplines that are essential in approaching issues of natural resources, environmental quality, and environmental sustainability. Experiential learning is a key component in the curriculum. As a result, graduates have the capacity to integrate perspectives and diverse bodies of knowledge in dealing with environmental resource management problems.
All students in the program take a common core of major requirements which is designed to provide exposure to technical and socioeconomic dimensions of natural resource management and policy. Important components of the core requirements are a required three-week summer camp, a pre-professional internship or research experience, and a senior capstone course that is problem based. In addition to the core requirements, all students must complete nine hours of course work in both an Analytical Skill Development Area (ASD) and an Environmental System Emphasis Area (ESEA). This allows students to match analytical skills to an area of particular interest in conservation biology, natural resource planning, environmental soil science, water resources, forestry, wildlife management, agricultural sustainability, geological processes, or related areas. Courses completed for the ASD and ESEA are selected from a list of choices in each area. Students are required to complete an off-campus internship or a research experience that is related to their ESEA and/or ASD. NRES majors have completed internships in several foreign countries, although most are conducted within the U.S. with organizations such as the National Park Service, the U.S. Forest Service, with local nature preserves, an Alaskan salmon recovery program, a national laboratory, environmental consulting firms, private corporations, and both state and local governments. All seniors apply their course work and experiential learning to the senior capstone course which focuses on a well-defined natural resource issue, requires group collaboration and problem-solving, and involves actual stakeholders.
Graduates of the Natural Resources and Environmental Science degree program move on to graduate work or careers. Many graduates continue their studies in Masters or Ph.D. programs or go on to law school. Most graduates begin careers as aspiring environmental professionals in both the public and private sector. Additional employment opportunities exist in environmental education, journalism, and work with nonprofit organizations which have environmental concerns.
To earn a Bachelor of Science in Natural Resources and Environmental Science, a student must complete at least 120 semester hours of credit with at least a 2.0 cumulative grade-point average. A minimum of 45 credits must be from upper division courses (300-level and above). Remedial courses may not be counted toward the total degree hours. In addition to the UK Core requirements, students must complete College requirements, premajor and major requirements, and complete an internship or research experience. With advisor approval, students select and Analytical Skill Development and an Environmental System Emphasis Area which focuses course work in a student’s area of interest.