Interdepartmental Ph.D. Emphasis in Environment and Society

Moraine Lake

Valley of the Ten Peaks and Moraine Lake, Banff National Park, Canada.

The Interdepartmental Ph.D. Emphasis in Environment and Society (IEES) is a new PhD emphasis, launched in 2014, with goal of providing UCSB doctoral students in participating departments an opportunity to receive training and mentorship in interdisciplinary environmental studies and sciences beyond the normal scope of their degree programs. Students that join the emphasis and complete all of the requirements will receive a certificate analogous to an undergraduate minor. IEES is administered by an advisory board of faculty from across campus, and is based in the Environmental Studies Program.

What are the benefits to participating graduate students?

  • Provide student participants with the interdisciplinary tools—including methods, concepts, vocabularies, analytical frameworks, and critical thinking skills—necessary to communicate across disciplines and undertake dissertation projects that address complex environmental issues;
  • Provide a structured opportunity to develop an area of conceptual depth or methodological expertise not available in their home department by engaging with faculty in any of the 15 departments participating in the emphasis;
  • Open up new opportunities for mentorship from a faculty member from another discipline through participation on their dissertation committee (participating students must have one faculty member from outside their discipline on their committee);
  • Introduce participants to new ways of thinking about the environment and provide them with guidance on how to integrate these perspectives into their research and writing;
  • Create an opportunity to participate in an interdisciplinary and interdepartmental community of students exploring diverse and interconnected questions about the environment and society; and
  • Improve competitiveness in the academic job market where interdisciplinary training is often sought after.

What are the requirements?

To earn the emphasis certificate, students must complete the following requirements:

  • All students in the emphasis must register for a Core Seminar, offered each fall, which will bring together that year’s cohort for an interdisciplinary discussion with faculty from across campus about key issues, concepts, problems, and methods in interdisciplinary environmental studies and sciences.
  • All students in the emphasis must take three elective courses in departments and disciplines other than their own. Students may choose these electives from a standing list, or they may design a more tailored elective curriculum, with proper justification.
  • All students in the emphasis must have one outside member on their dissertation committees, selected from the list of faculty affiliated with the emphasis.
  • All students must attend the IEES annual symposium, where beginning and continuing students will present their research.
  • All students must include some aspect of interdisciplinary environmental studies as a substantial component of their dissertations. There are many ways to fulfill this final requirement.

Who may apply?

Any UCSB PhD student in a participating department may apply, though most applicants will probably be students going into their second or third years of doctoral study. To be accepted into the emphasis, applicants must demonstrate that (1) they have a strong
interest in and commitment to interdisciplinary environmental studies and sciences, (2) participation in the emphasis will advance their intellectual development, research agendas, and career goals, (3) they are well‐situated to assume the additional workload and responsibilities of the emphasis, and (4) they have the full support of their dissertation chair or appropriate graduate advisor.

Which departments are involved?

Doctoral students from the following campus units are welcome to apply:

  1. Anthropology
  2. Bren School of Environmental Science and Management
  3. Earth Science
  4. East Asian Languages Cultural Studies
  5. Ecology, Evolution, and Marine Biology
  6. English
  7. Environmental Studies Program
  8. Film and Media Studies
  9. Geography
  10. Global International Studies
  11. History
  12. Interdepartmental Graduate Program in Marine Science
  13. Political Science
  14. Psychology
  15. Sociology

Other departments will likely join the emphasis over time.

How may I apply?

To apply for the fall 2014 cohort, submit the following materials to Katie Maynard
by July 1, 2014:

  • A cover sheet listing the following information: your full name, department, the number of years you have completed in your current program, and your status in that program (how much coursework remains, whether you have advanced to candidacy, etc.)
  • A letter of application describing your program of doctoral study and research at UCSB, including your dissertation topic, and addressing each of the four considerations for admission listed in the “Who may apply?” section above
  • A curriculum vitae
  • A letter of recommendation from your dissertation committee chair, or appropriate substitute if you do not yet have a chair, endorsing your application and indicating that the recommender understands the requirements of the emphasis

What if I have questions?

Please feel free to send any questions to the emphasis Director, Peter Alagona.