The Joint Environment & Sustainability Program A degree in development and currently under review
Individuals must take action in the next decade to determine the future of the Earth’s inhabitants. Recognizing the urgency and complexity of our call to care for our “Common Home,” The Earth Commons and the Georgetown University College of Arts & Sciences have teamed up to prepare the next generation of leaders in Environment and Sustainability through transformational interdisciplinary learning experiences. This planned degree, the Joint Environment & Sustainability Program (JESP), will prepare undergraduates for a lifetime of environmental changemaking.
The JESP is the first of its kind at the University and among a growing list of opportunities at Georgetown that will prepare you for a future helping tackle some of the most important environmental issues of our time. The JESP aims to educate students not only about the environment but also the impact human behavior has on the natural world and how we can live more sustainably with our planet. In addition to knowledge and skills from scientific and humanist lenses, the program also emphasizes looking inward, addressing the need for a broader transformation in individual mindset and behavior, starting with ourselves. JESP highlights various dimensions such as theoretical, technical, and applied knowledge, interdisciplinary research, ecological belonging, inner transformation, global consciousness, cultural humility, theories of change, and personal formation and wellbeing. Bringing all of these topics together under a single program, the JESP is our unique and cutting-edge approach to caring for our Common Home.
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The JESP’s interdisciplinary and integrative design builds on the University and College Cores, drawing on five defining features of a liberal arts education:
Curricular freedom to explore courses, issues, and topics beyond the formal requirements of one’s major
Space to explore a diverse range of disciplinary perspectives, worldviews, theoretical frameworks, and methodologies
Context to critically engage the self, communities, cultures, and the human condition from a humanistic perspective
Capacity to link learning to civic issues and enduring questions as citizens of the world and stewards of the environment
Access to opportunities and experiences encouraging formation of personal commitments within the context of global challenges
2 + 2 = JESP
The JESP degree will be a four-year degree built on a liberal arts core, designed to culminate either in a significant capstone project—like a research thesis or other impact project—and/or integrate with a fifth-year Master’s degree and research thesis.
The JESP has an innovative structure that differs from most other college degrees. Instead of exploring in your first two years and then committing to a structured track in your final two years, the JESP will be relatively structured in the first two years and quite flexible in the third and fourth years. This will allow you to be exposed to many new environmental topics and concepts and then follow your interests down diverse pathways, like research, internships, and international immersions. JESP students will also integrate into DC’s vibrant and fast-paced downtown by spending two years at the Capitol Campus, which will include one or more immersion experiences within DC, or at a local, regional, or international location, and also get the best of the Hilltop with two years on Georgetown’s Main Campus. Because this degree is committed to an interdisciplinary and holistic approach to student learning, a significant portion of credits are dedicated to credit-bearing experiential education and personal/professional formation throughout all four years.
The JESP is an innovative new degree concept the university developed over several years of planning with leaders in education, environment and sustainability fields. We expect the JESP degree to be approved at the University level later in the Fall of 2023, but you can enroll now in the exciting classes that can help you in this or any degree.
The first year’s class in the JESP program on the Capital Campus will be one of the initial cohorts of undergraduates studying full time at Georgetown’s newest campus. This means that there will be unique circumstances and experiences during your time in the program, and that services will be evolving during these first years. What’s exciting is that all students will have the opportunity to shape this new experience for those that follow in this program. By participating in the JESP, you can not only help shape the degree and the future of our university, but also the world.
Watch the Info Session
We encourage enrollment in the following JESP Core Courses beginning Fall 2023 to facilitate declaring the JESP major in Fall 2024.
Ready to take the next step with JESP? Interested first years and second years can get a head start on the JESP by enrolling in proposed the core courses, which also meets Georgetown’s Science for All (SFA) requirement:
Foundations of Environment and Sustainability Science, ENST-1010-01,-02,-03
Interested first years and second years can get a head start on the JESP beginning Fall 2023 to facilitate declaring the proposed JESP major in Fall 2024 by enrolling in proposed core courses like Environment & Sustainability Science (ENST 1010)—which also meets Georgetown’s Science for All (SFA) requirement.
The JESP is currently a proposal undergoing university review with anticipated launch in the Fall of 2023. We are currently seeking first years to indicate their interest in enrolling in the program by completing an application and registering in the new courses, which will include a SFA requirement, an introduction to ethics course, and interdisciplinary elective credits in the first year. Students who ultimately decide to pursue a different major will be on track with the core requirements common to all degrees by the end of the first year.
This proposal is the result of a continuous series of discussions, classes, and research first initiated in Spring 2021. From the beginning, the goal was to create a complete liberal arts degree in environment and sustainability that was innovative and forward-facing, as well as rooted in Ignatian principles of education and environmental consciousness.
The proposal was developed along two intersecting tracks. One track involved faculty and educational design staff working together on interdisciplinary curriculum development and program building. This included faculty listening and visioning sessions, a core design team, and wider faculty input on iterations of the proposal.
A second closely aligned track involved 20 undergraduate students (15 from the College) in a year-long credit-bearing design course (AY 2021-22) imagining and developing key dimensions of the proposal, with a particular focus on the student experience, the connections between Hilltop and Capitol Campus locations, and the infusion of wellbeing, equity, and high-impact learning practices. Since June 2022, several undergraduates have continued to work on building out dimensions of the proposal, particularly those focused on the student experience.
Home to the Georgetown Law Center for nearly 50 years, the university’s growing campus in the shadow of the Capitol, at the heart of Washington, D.C., offers exceptional opportunities to work, learn, and serve in a city that shapes the world. Georgetown’s Capitol Campus recently expanded with the acquisition of 500 First Street—a building now home to select interdisciplinary centers from the law school, main campus, and medical center, as well as select undergraduate programs.
The degree will be relatively structured in the first two years, and quite flexible in the junior and senior years. This is different from most College pathways (with the exception of pre-med), where there is a lot of room for exploration in the lower division and relatively structured in the upper division with major(s) and minor requirements.
The degree aims to have a highly specified set of Core requirements that integrate University Core, College Core and Core courses distinctive to the JESP. Most of the Core requirements will be designed to reflect an environmental focus.
Experiential learning (credit-bearing) is threaded throughout the curriculum beginning in year one, including research-based learning, Earth Commons rotations, a DC internship, an environmental immersion in an international or alternative US location, and a capstone project.
Because the degree proposal is committed to an interdisciplinary and holistic approach to student learning, a significant portion of credits are dedicated to both experiential learning and professional formation throughout all four years. The Professional Formation (ProForm) component of the degree includes credit-bearing formal roles for upper-division students, as peer leaders (mentors and teachers) to support lower-division students, that are integral to the overall design of the degree.
Considering how environment and sustainability touch on all aspects of life, JESP graduates will be prepared to pursue a wide range of careers in the environmental and sustainability fields and beyond. Some potential career paths include working in environmental consulting, government agencies, non-profit organizations, or the private sector. Graduates may also choose to pursue further education in related fields such as law, public policy, or environmental science.
Yes, students in the JESP program will have opportunities to study abroad, and are strongly encouraged to do so through multiple pathways and participate in environmental fieldwork. The program will offer various international study and research opportunities, as well as internships and field experiences in the Washington, D.C. area.
JESP students will be encouraged to undertake research projects that address pressing environmental and sustainability challenges facing society. Students will have the opportunity to work with faculty mentors on individual or group research projects, and may also participate in research projects with other institutions or organizations.
There are no specific prerequisites for the JESP program as students are encouraged to join in their first year, but interested students are encouraged to have a strong academic background in science, social science, or humanities. Interested students should also demonstrate a strong interest in environmental and sustainability issues.
The JESP program is committed to addressing issues of environmental justice and social equity in its curriculum and research. Students will be exposed to topics such as the disproportionate impact of environmental degradation on marginalized communities and the role of public policy in promoting social equity.
Yes, JESP students will have opportunities to engage with environmental advocacy or policy work during the program. Students can participate in internships with environmental organizations, government agencies, or businesses, and may also have the opportunity to engage in advocacy or policy work through coursework or research projects.
The JESP program addresses issues related to climate change and global sustainability through its curriculum and research. Students are exposed to topics such as renewable energy, climate policy, and sustainable development, and are encouraged to undertake research projects related to these issues. The program also collaborates with other organizations and initiatives focused on climate change and global sustainability, such as the Georgetown Climate Center.
Sign up for updates
We’re excited to offer you the opportunity to get started down the JESP path and gain the skills and experience you need to make a difference for the environment. Sign up for updates on the JESP program and Earth Commons today.