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Minor in Environmental Studies

Ashoka’s minor in Environmental Studies is designed to have both a science and policy dimension that will allow students to adapt a variety of theoretical concepts in the practiced world. The purpose of courses in the minor is to explore and improve the dialogue between the physical and the social sciences as it plays out within the framework of environmental policy.

Format of the Minor

The minor is divided into six courses, each of which covers a range of interdisciplinary topics that allow for instruction from faculty and professionals in the field. Several of these courses will have two instructors, one from the physical sciences and another with a social science or policy emphasis. The syllabus encourages guest lecturers from the public, private, and non-governmental sphere. All courses will be a mix of faculty-led sessions, guest lectures, and site visits.


Over the course of the minor, students can expect to take six courses that will fall broadly into the following fields:


  • Air: Basic principles of the physics and chemistry of the atmosphere and its components; air pollution and its interaction with meteorological factors; a history of clean air laws and policy initiatives; emerging policy issues

  • Water: Basic principles of the hydrological cycle; issues of water supply and quality in urban and rural areas; sanitation; emerging trends and policy urgencies in water policy

  • Land: Basic principles of the carbon cycle; implications of changing forest cover and agricultural practices, including the impact of climate change; waste management and policy issues

  • Energy: Fossil fuels and renewable sources of energy; energy access and equity; demand driven by urbanization and its implications; policy issues for meeting urban and rural power supply

  • Policy: History of the environmental movement and policies in India; a broad contextualization of global environmental policy trends; interfacing policy making with environmental risks and uncertainty; the interaction of science, economics and politics to influence public policy

  • Communication: Role of scientists; role of civil society; role of the media; communication of scientific knowledge and uncertainty and its necessity for public policy making; ways to create a more effective and rigorous dialogue for robust policy making.