Overview

At a time when the world's environmental challenges are growing in number, complexity, and magnitude, the Bren School of Environmental Science & Management at UCSB has emerged as an important center of teaching and leading-edge research while becoming known for its highly integrated, comprehensive approach to environmental management.

The mission of the Bren School is to solve environmental problems.

The Bren School develops interdisciplinary solutions to environmental problems, trains environmental leaders, and works for a sustainable future. (more)

Underscoring the school's mission is the understanding that human systems and Earth’s natural systems are inextricably linked and that any effort to address sustainability of Earth's systems requires simultaneous study of the human actions that profoundly affect them. This is reflected in the Bren curriculum, which grounds students not only in the natural sciences, but also in the economic, legal, management, and policy perspectives of environmental issues.

Bren Hall rooftop solar panels overlooking the ocean
Rooftop solar panels at work atop Bren Hall

A wide-ranging curriculum brings together these diverse areas of knowledge in a solution-centered, application-focused program that prepares talented students to assume leadership roles as scientists and environmental managers who will bring a multidisciplinary perspective to solving the most important environmental problems of our time. This balanced, integrated approach sets the Bren School apart.

Home to an international student body comprising approximately 175 master's students and 40 PhD students, the school also supports the teaching and research of 20 of the most outstanding cross-disciplinary permanent faculty to be found in the area of environmental and natural resources research. Some faculty members are affiliated with or have joint appointments linking them to the College of Engineering; the departments of Geography, Earth Science, Economics, and Political Science; and the Department of Ecology, Evolution and Marine Biology. Adjunct professors and visiting lecturers from industry and other leading universities complement the full-time faculty and extend the school's academic reach while enhancing the real-world relevance of the curriculum.

Group of students working at an outdoor study area
A Group Project team convenes at one of Bren Hall's open-air work areas.

UCSB, which is recognized for the quality of its interdisciplinary academic offerings and has produced five Nobel Prize winners, is the ideal setting for such an approach to Environmental Science & Management.

Students benefit further from the school’s affiliations with a half-dozen university research institutes and eight interdepartmental programs and initiatives that bring together graduates, undergraduates, and members of the greater Santa Barbara community.

The school extends its intellectual reach and enhances its multidisciplinary focus through engagement with a number of programs and initiatives, as well as government, business, and nonprofitentities. The increasing number of Bren students interested in new media benefit from the school's linkages with the Environmental Media Initiative. The Bren School has also joined the Department of Economics to provide a PhD emphasis in Economics and Environmental Science, and has partnered with the College of Engineering's Technology Management Program to offer an Eco-Entrepreneurship focus that can be incorporated into any of the six master's specializations at Bren. Further relationships have been developed with the Center for Nanotechnology in Society and the California Nanostystems Institute, and Bren faculty hold leadership positions in the UC Center for the Environmental Implications of Nanotechnology. Bren scientists and economists have worked extensively with their colleagues at the Marine Science Institute on a variety of research projects related to sustainable fisheries management.

Professor and student working in laboratory
Counting tree rings in Prof. Frank Davis's lab

The school connects with the local community through the Dean's Council and a Corporate Partners program comprising more than 40 corporations and non-governmental organizations that share our commitment to sustainable enterprise, pioneering research, and high-quality educational programs. These groups provide numerous opportunities for our students and help to guide, promote, and support the School, which shares leading-edge research with our partners through publications, dialogs, presentations, summits, seminars, and student research projects.

Students attend classes, manage and work with research data, and perform lab work in Bren Hall, a physical manifestation of the school’s commitment to providing human environments in an environmentally responsible way. Since being recognized as the “greenest” laboratory facility in the nation by the U.S. Green Building Council, the award-winning building has raised the bar on environmentally friendly building practices. Cutting-edge construction and site preparation techniques were employed in erecting Bren Hall, and new technology, equipment, and design fill its laboratory, study, teaching, and meeting places.

Students and alumni receive crucial personalized assistance from the school's highly regarded Career Development Program. The career-development staff offer a full range of individualized support for prospective students, including support in finding and landing internships and jobs, and instruction in such crucial skills as resume writing, intereviewing, and salary negotiation.

Students in kitchen and locker area
Student kitchen and lockers, Bren Hall

The Bren School is located a few miles west of the beautiful small city of Santa Barbara, at the edge of the Pacific Ocean and with a view to Channel Islands National Park. A wintering ground for monarch butterflies is nearby, resident dolphins and seals and migrating whales regularly cruise

 

the near-shore waters, and an array of bird species inhabit the shores and wetlands on and around the university. The area's ecological diversity provides an inspiring context for our students, who bring talent, focus, commitment, and vision to the challenge of managing the environment to serve both humanity and the natural world.