Environmental Policy

Environmental policy is forged at the intersection of scientific and political systems. At Drake, you will become familiar with the institutions and practices that reconcile conflicts involving science and politics.

Working extensively in the field, you will emphasize “doing” over “knowing” as you learn to understand the connections between human beings and the Earth’s environment, and to engage in the crossroads of social and natural sciences that result in decision-making, policy formulation and implementation, adaptive management, and critical thinking.

Through hands-on experience, you’ll learn the theory and application of environmental policies, and study the sociological effects and impact of those policies on cultural justice. You’ll develop an understanding of organisms and their environments, the inner-workings of an ecosystem and the make-up and process of our atmosphere—all of which are fundamental to formulating policy that protects air, land, water, and biodiversity.

Our expert faculty, all of whom hold the highest degrees in their fields, are dedicated to teaching courses at every level of the curriculum and to helping you succeed. Their areas of expertise include water resources, hydrology, geology, conservation biology, insect biology, economic and environmental modeling, and climate change. Where appropriate, guest instructors teach courses in areas where they have more specialized experience, including geographic information systems, animal reintroduction, and restoration ecology.

Your years of study in Drake’s environmental policy program will culminate in real-world application. Internship opportunities are numerous, and a senior capstone project includes a group service-learning experience in which you and your classmates will serve as environmental consultants for a local or regional client.

Careers and Internships

As an environmental policy major, you’ll be well prepared to work in governmental and non-governmental capacities on environmental issues and policy-making.

Des Moines offers a wealth of internship opportunities. Environmental policy students are well prepared for legislative and administrative internships at all levels of government, as well as with non-governmental organizations working on environmental issues. Recent internship locations include the Iowa National Heritage Foundation, the Ape Cognition and Conservation Initiative, Student Conservation Association, and Iowa Department of Natural Resources.

Student Organizations

Drake offers more than 160 student organizations focusing on a wide variety of issues and interests. Students in the environmental science and policy program often join the Drake Environmental Action League (DEAL) and the Drake Outdoor Leadership Club, and become involved with off-campus groups such as the Iowa Environmental Council. Students in these groups not only make friends, they make a difference: Recently, DEAL members and others implemented a food recovery program called NextCourse that has donated thousands of pounds of unserved leftover food from Drake's dining hall and catering services to shelters around the city.

Major Requirements

A minimum 50 credit hours in areas such as biology, politics, economics, as well as environmental policy are required for a major. Featured courses may include One Earth: Global Environmental Science; Environmental Case Analysis; Environmental Politics and Policy; Urban Environmental Story; and Ecological Economics.

Minor Requirements

A minor in environmental policy provides students with an opportunity to develop familiarity with the science and policy in environmental issues and formally establish an interdisciplinary link from related professions. All minors must have an adviser in the program and must successfully complete 23 credit hours. 

Honors and Accreditations

  • Dennis O'Brien Environmental Science Award
  • Award for Promise in Environmental Science and Policy
  • Environmental Policy Scholar/Citizen Award
  • Environmental Science and Policy Outstanding Research Award
  • Central Iowa Mineralogical Society Award


Drake img
Do Something Drake
I came to Drake because I could combine my interests