Degree Requirements (MPS/MA in ECM)

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Degree Requirements for the ECM MPS/MA

Completion of the MPS/MA will take 18 months (three semesters).


Students admitted into the program must have earned a Bachelor's degree with a minimum 3.0 GPA. See FAQs for GRE and TOEFL requirements.

Core Courses and Credit Requirements

Students must complete 18 credits worth of coursework in the following core courses:

  • ECS 501  Contemporary Media Representations of the Environment
  • ECS 502  Technology and Human Behavior
  • ECS 503  Nature, the Anthropocene, and Visual Anthropology  
  • ECS 504  Environmental Communication, New Media & Policy
  • 6 credits  Research Thesis (MA) or Internship Report (MPS)

The 12 remaining credits are chosen electives that align with each student’s interest.


ECM Core Course Descriptions

ECS 501 -- Contemporary Media Representations of the Environment (Fall semester) – 3 credits

This course will combine media studies, environmental studies, and critical theory to give students a broad introduction to ways in which screen media are used today to represent both the natural world and also environmental issues such as climate change, animal extinction, and natural resource use. From more conventional media such as feature fiction films (e.g. Wall-e, The Day After Tomorrow, Avatar), documentary films (e.g. An Inconvenient Truth, HBO’s Gasland), and television news coverage, to more niche formats like Google Earth’s global mapping and in-dash monitors that depict miles-per-gallon, screen technology has long been and is increasingly used to mediate our relationship with surrounding ecosystems. Students will look at mainstream television channels (e.g. Discover, National Geographic, and the Weather Channel) alongside the digital campaigns of agencies and institutions directly aimed at conservation efforts, including the ecotourism industry, non-profit environmental groups, and governmental bodies such as the National Parks Service. In addition, this course will investigate the increasing role of interactive media in museums and science centers, as well as the rising power of social media in disseminating news regarding environmental issues.

ECS 502 -- Technology and Human Behavior (Fall semester) – 3 credits

This course will explore the social aspects of technology use and cultural adaptation through cross-cultural ethnographic research on science and traditional beliefs. From the adoption of chainsaws in Amazonian forestry to the use of smart watches in Japanese cities, technological choice will be examined through psychological theories of behavior, socio-cultural perspectives, and institutional and economic forces. Reflecting the rising social, cultural, scientific, and political importance of emerging digital culture (e.g. virtual reality, smart devices, artificial intelligence), a key focus of the second half of the course will focus on philosophical notions of post-human cyborgism. Students will be introduced to recent research on the cognitive issues of social media use and consumption, including social media addiction and other neurological impacts of chronic screen use. Coursework will connect historical understandings and larger social analysis of digital media use and encourage students to participate in an ongoing exploration of their own technological choices and media practices. Students will also be exposed to multidisciplinary theories and research on risk perception and the psychology and effectiveness of environmental messaging in order to address how various media technologies impact individual and collective thinking and action. 

ECS 503 -- Nature, the Anthropocene, and Visual Anthropology (Spring semester) – 3 credits

Different cultural and historical contexts have conceived of humanity’s relationship to the natural world in vastly different ways, from ‘sacred and part of’ to ‘separate from’ and ‘steward over.’ A culture's techniques of representation, use of imagery, and ways of seeing are a key part of the shaping of its worldview and cognitive framework of shared ideas and beliefs. This course is an opportunity for students to use an anthropologist’s eye to actively engage with the human production of knowledge about the natural world through visual culture. Rather than approaching visual anthropology with its usual divide between ‘anthropological content’ and ‘aesthetic composition,’ this course will foster both approaches as it examines human perceptions of the environment from prehistoric cave paintings to modern day street art. Key elements of visual anthropology will be introduced, including symbols and symbolism, reflexivity, visual data of everyday life, art analysis, ethics, society-as-text paradigm, urban visual data, and ways of conceiving systems of visual representation. Representations of Other will be analyzed through theories of the exotic, gender, race, post-colonialism, nationalism, and heritage studies.

ECS 504 -- Environmental Communication, New Media & Policy (Spring semester) –3 credits

From the political ramifications of echo chambers on Facebook and Twitter to the rhetorical film essay documentaries that have waged ideological wars over the past twenty years, screen and new media are an increasingly powerful force in the shaping of policy, political awareness, and popular ideological views of the environment. This course will draw on critical approaches of media theory, rhetoric, and political science to study and interpret the political use of visual media. Just as FDR’s WPA used film to propagandize the agricultural importance of public works, and Hollywood has been harnessed for ecological causes from natural conservation to climate change, today screen and digital media (e.g. television commercials, podcasts, social media blasts) are the driving force of PR campaigns for both governmental bodies and private companies that greatly impact environmental understanding and policy.  From information to misinformation, viral content streams constantly onto screens across the world, whose apps are also used for activism and citizen science—students will look at what strategies of circulation and rhetoric are used to wage digital campaigns to communicate and shape ecological values and policy.

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MPS in Exploration Science

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Degree Requirements for the MPS in Exploration Science

Completion of the MPS will take 18 months (three semesters) and includes an internship.

For More Information on Requirements and Core Course Descriptions visit: