MEM Foundational Knowledge Guidance

In order to excel in one’s program of study at YSE as well as a career in environmental management, all MEM students are expected to be conversant in four Foundational Knowledge areas.

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    The MEM Foundational Knowledge areas are:

    • Physical Science
    • Human Science
    • Ecology
    • Microeconomics

    Each fall semester, four thoughtfully designed courses – tailored specifically for incoming MEM students – are offered for students to learn, refresh, and deepen their understanding in each of these knowledge areas. In the process, students lay a strong foundation to engage with the rigorous MEM curriculum and approach complex problems through an interdisciplinary lens.

    For incoming students with substantial academic or professional experience in any of the four areas, waiver exams will be made available each spring and summer preceding enrollment at YSE. Students may make two attempts to pass a waiver exam. For those students who are able to demonstrate sufficient proficiency in a Foundational Knowledge area through passing an exam, a waiver will be provided.

    Students who do not take or pass a waiver exam will be auto-enrolled by the Registrar to complete the required Foundational Knowledge course(s). These courses must be completed during a student’s first Fall semester. More information about the courses can be found by clicking on the following links:

    Foundational Knowledge Preparation

    The following are some examples of recommended undergraduate courses that will help prepare incoming students for the MEM curriculum:

    Physical Science

    • Earth science course covering geosphere, atmosphere, and hydrosphere
    • Hydrology
    • Soil science
    • Environmental chemistry
    • Climate science

    Human Science

    • Environmental Governance
    • Environmental Anthropology
    • Environmental History
    • Environmental Justice
    • Environmental Sociology
    • Human Geography
    • Political Ecology
    • Religion and Ecology


    • General Ecology
    • Biodiversity Science
    • Population or Community Ecology
    • Ecosystem Science or Ecosystems Ecology


    • A course in the Principles of Microeconomics