Whether you want to pursue a career in sustainable design and architecture or help advance the development of renewable energy technology, you can customize your education with the Individualized Contract emphasis.

Program Overview

Tailor your education to your passion and purpose.

One of the unique opportunities at Western Colorado University is the ability to customize your education to find your purpose and meet your goals. In the Environment & Sustainability (ENVS) program, you can design your own Individualized Contract that complements your major and is tailored to your specific interests. Pursuing this emphasis will help you become immersed in the interdisciplinary ENVS experience and dive deeper into the perspectives, disciplines and fields that will serve you professionally.

Carving out a niche expertise and gaining hands-on experience will also help you stand out in the competitive work force. In the ENVS program at Western, you can learn how to construct a self-sustaining building in the Earthship Academy or experiment with sustainable food systems at the Coldharbour Institute in the Gunnison Valley.

Coldharbour Institute

Western students learn about holistic ranching, community farming, green building and alternative energy at Coldharbour Institute, a 350-acre ranch in the beautiful Gunnison Valley.

Program Requirements

At Western, course rotations are crafted to encompass a variety of subject fields for a comprehensive education and versatile degree. For required courses and degree plans, visit the official University Catalog. Below is a general overview of courses at Western Colorado University related to this area of study.

Program Requirements

This Emphasis allows students to design a curriculum in consultation with an Environment and Sustainability advisor and with the approval of the Environment and Sustainability Council. A minimum of 57 credits is required including the 39-credit Standard Major.

ENVS 100Introduction to Environment and Sustainability (GT-SS2)3
ENVS 200Writing the Environment3
ENVS 301Science of Sustainability and Resilience3
ENVS 350U.S. and Western Environmental Politics3
ENVS 390Environmental Monitoring4
ENVS 400Applied Sustainability3
ENVS 410Environmental Ethics3
Select one of the following:3
ENVS 360
Global Environmental Policy
ENVS 370
Water Policy and Politics
ENVS 375
Seminar in Water Topics
Required Supporting Courses
BIOL 130Environmental Biology (GT-SC2)3
BIOL 135Environmental Biology Laboratory (GT-SC1)1
PHYS 125Energy and the Environment (GT-SC2)3
ECON 215Environmental Economics3
One of the following:1
HWTR 200
This Is The Headwaters
HWTR 398
Headwaters Conference
And one of the following:3
ECON 216
Statistics for Business and Economics
MATH 113
Statistical Thinking (GT-MA1)
MATH 213
Probability and Statistics
SOC 211
Quantitative Research Methods
Total Credits39

Proposals for an Individualized Contract should be developed before the second semester of the junior year, and applicants must have a minimum of a 3.200 GPA in the major and a 3.000 overall GPA. Consult an Environment and Sustainability advisor for details.

Capstone Course Requirement

The following course in the Environment and Sustainability Major fulfills the capstone course requirement: ENVS 400 Applied Sustainability.

Graduation Requirements

Undergraduate programs require a minimum of 120 semester credits for graduation.  Of those 120 credits, 40 credits must be in upper-division courses (those marked 300 and above).  Fifteen of these 40 upper-division credits must be earned in courses that are part of the standard or comprehensive major program being pursued. 

Students are expected to review all graduation requirements, which can be found in the Western Undergraduate Catalog: Graduation Requirements

Plan of Study Grid
Year One
BIOL 130 Environmental Biology (GT-SC2) 3
BIOL 135 Environmental Biology Laboratory (GT-SC1) 1
ENG 102 Academic Writing (GT-CO1) 3
ENVS 100 Introduction to Environment and Sustainability (GT-SS2) 3
HWTR 100 First Year Seminar 1
Gen Ed General Education Courses 3
COM 202 Academic Writing and Inquiry (GT-CO2) 3
MATH 113 Statistical Thinking (GT-MA1) 3
PHYS 125 Energy and the Environment (GT-SC2) 3
Elective Elective/Minor 3
Gen Ed General Education Courses 3
Year Two
ENVS 200 Writing the Environment 3
HWTR 398 Headwaters Conference 1
Gen Ed Natural Sciences 3
Gen Ed Arts & Humanities or Social Sciences 3
Elective Elective/Minor 6
ECON 215 Environmental Economics 3
Gen Ed Arts & Humanities or Social Sciences 6
Elective Elective/Minor 6
Year Three
ENVS 301 Science of Sustainability and Resilience 3
ENVS 350 U.S. and Western Environmental Politics 3
IC Individualized Contract Requirement 3
Elective Elective/Minor 6
ENVS 360
or ENVS 370
or ENVS 373
Global Environmental Policy
or Water Policy and Politics
or The Water Planet
ENVS 390 Environmental Monitoring 4
IC Individualized Contract Requirement 3
Elective Elective/Minor 6
ENVS 499 Internship in Environmental Studies (Recommended but optional) 1-6
Year Four
ENVS 410 Environmental Ethics 3
IC Individualized Contract Requirement 6
Elective Elective/Minor 6
ENVS 400 Applied Sustainability 3
IC Individualized Contract Requirement 6
Elective Elective/Minor 6
 Total Credits122-127

Faculty & Staff


Career preparation starts your first year at Western and is the primary focus of every degree.

Visit Career Services in Library 120 or online to discover your interests, define your goals, and land the career of your dreams.

The data below is automatically collected by Burning Glass Technologies, a firm that sources job market data and provides analytics. The statistics illustrate general trends in U.S. careers, but do not precisely represent every job and salary.


Alumni Association Future Alumni Scholarship

The Alumni Association Scholarship is a one-time scholarship of $1,000 and is applicable for the student’s junior or senior year at Western.

Any child or grandchild of an alumni is eligible to receive the Future Alumni Scholarship.

  • This is a one-time non-renewable scholarship of $1,000.
  • Only one Future Alumni Scholarship will be awarded per academic year.
  • GPA must be 3.2 or above (college).

Due date has been extended to April 15 for 2021. An Alumni selection committee, appointed by the Alumni Advisory Board, will review applicants and select awardee by June 1.


Alumni Legacy Scholarship

The Alumni Legacy Scholarship is a one-time non-renewable scholarship and is only applicable for the student’s first year at Western (incoming freshman or new transfer students are eligible).

Do you have a son or daughter looking at college? Have they considered attending Western? As an alumni, your son, daughter and/or grandchildren are eligible for certain benefits distributed through this scholarship, as follows:

  • This is a one-time scholarship of $1,000.
  • Nominee must be an incoming freshman or new transfer.
  • The cost of orientation is reduced by half (a $45 value).
  • The admission application fee is waived (a $30 value).
  • GPA must be 2.5 or above (high school or college of transfer).

The applicant must fill out the application form found here (click). Application forms are accepted year-round. If the applicant meets the GPA guidelines, the scholarship will be awarded.


Mountaineer Alumni Recommendation Scholarship

The Mountaineer Alumni Recommendation Scholarship is a one-time non-renewable scholarship and is only applicable for the student’s first year at Western. This scholarship is not available to midyear transfers or students beginning in the spring semester.

Are you an alumni or employee of Western and know a prospective (or incoming) student who would be a great fit at Western? A recommendation from alumni and employees can support any new student and provide them a $500 scholarship their first year. (Western employees may not recommend a spouse or dependent receiving tuition benefits).

  • Any Western alumni/employee may nominate only one student per academic year to receive the $500 scholarship (distributed $250 per semester).
  • The scholarship is good for the first year only and is non-renewable.
  • The recommended student must be a full-time undergraduate student, attending Western for the first time.

The applicant must fill out the application form found here. The nominating alumni/employee must fill out the application form and submit the required documents by June 1. The recommended student must meet university admissions acceptance standards and complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

The Presidential Promise is guaranteed to students who have received a scholarship through the Denver Scholarship Foundation (DSF) and/or GearUp—and are eligible for a Pell Grant.

For students who meet these criteria, Western will cover the cost of tuition and fees through the combination of federal, state and institutional aid. For more information on the Presidential Promise, visit our scholarships page.


The Western Presidential Honors Scholarships, established by the Jack and Marilyn MacAllister Foundation shall be an elite class of scholarships awarded to Western’s highest achieving and most deserving students, celebrating the ideals of academic excellence and service to the campus and community. Recipients of the Scholarships will be members of the Western Colorado University Honors Program.

There are eight Presidential Honors Scholarships of $2500 each. Each year two new Presidential Honors Scholarships will be awarded to two incoming freshmen.

Western Undergraduate Exchange (WUE) or Central Plains (CP) tuition represents a substantial savings relative to normal, out-of-state tuition. Students eligible for the WUE or CP program will be charged 150% of Western’s total in-state tuition. For 2018-19, total in-state tuition was $8,934. WUE/CP tuition was $13,401. The WUE/CP discount is valued at $4,695.

For more information about the WUE and CP geography-based programs, visit Western’s Tuition Discount Programs Page.

Immediately upon acceptance at Western, every student is considered for a merit scholarship worth between $2,500-$4,500 per year for in-state students and $8,000-$10,000 for out-of-state students. The amount is based on the student’s GPA and ACT/SAT scores. Visit our Net Price Calculator at western.edu/cost to determine whether you qualify for a merit scholarship.

For more information about merit scholarships at Western, visit our scholarships page.

Get Involved

Maximize your educational experience at Western.

Pursue your passions, manifest your ideas and get hands-on experience in your field by participating in the wide variety of extracurricular activities Western offers.

  • Clubs & Organizations: Join the Organics Guild, Sustainability Coalition or Wildlife Society.
  • Coldharbour Institute: Experiment with sustainable building design, resilient food systems or community organizing in the Gunnison Valley.
  • Conferences: Attend the Headwaters Conference, the Colorado Water Workshop and Sage Grouse Spring Symposium.
  • Earthship Academy: Learn how to construct a self-sustaining building capable of producing food and saving energy.
  • High Country News: Check out the independent news source’s new satellite office located in Kelley Hall.
  • Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory: Find a research assistantship at one of the premier biological research stations in the world.
  • Solar Energy International: Engage in the local, regional or global conversation about the renewable energy era.

Chipeta garden

Students tend to the Chipeta garden on campus, which is maintained by The Organic Guild. Harvests from this garden are used when hosting Western’s annual farm-to-table event.

Additional Resources

ENVS Network

The ENVS Network documents people, organizations, and projects involved with the School of ENVS. Each year, Master in Environment Management students complete a 600 hour project, connecting people and organizations worldwide.

Learn More


John C. Hausdoerffer, Ph.D.

Dean, Clark Family School of Environment & Sustainability

Contact Information



Campus Location

1 Western Way
Gunnison, CO 81230