Environmental studies is a multidisciplinary academic field which systematically studies human interaction with the environment in the interests of solving complex problems. Environmental studies brings together the principles of the physical sciences, commerce/economics and social sciences so as to solve contemporary environmental problems. It is a broad field of study that includes the natural environment, the built environment, and the sets of relationships between them. The field encompasses study in basic principles of ecology and environmental science, as well as associated subjects such as ethics, geography, anthropology, policy, politics, urban planning, law, economics, philosophy, sociology and social justice, planning, pollution control and natural resource management. There are also many degree programs in Environmental Studies including the Master of Environmental Studies and the Bachelor of Environmental Studies.
The New York State College of Forestry at Syracuse University established a BS in environmental studies degree in the 1950s, awarding its first degree in 1956. Middlebury College established the major there in 1965.
The Environmental Studies Association of Canada (ESAC) was established in 1993"to further research and teaching activities in areas related to environmental studies in Canada". ESAC's magazine, A\J: Alternatives Journal was first published by Robert A. Paehlke on 4 July 1971.
The Association for Environmental Studies and Sciences (AESS) was founded in 2008 as the first professional association in the interdisciplinary field of environmental studies in the United States. In 2010, the National Council for Science and the Environment (NCSE) agreed to advise and support the Association. The Association's scholarly journal, the Journal of Environmental Studies and Sciences (JESS), commenced publication in March 2011.
In the United States, many high school students are able to take environmental science as a college-level course. Over 500 colleges and universities in the United States offer environmental studies as a degree.