Immerse yourself in the intersection of environmental issues and human affairs, and discover how this intersection creates "wicked problems" without easy solutions.

Degree requirement: None
Semester: Spring, fall
Program length: 3 university semesters
Format: Hybrid (online and in-person)
More detailed information below.

Students holding soil

The Certificate in Wicked Environmental Problems is designed to let students confront "wicked problems" that emerge from the intersection of the environment and human affairs. Wicked problems are stubborn and intractable, and they are difficult to solve for many reasons: incomplete or contradictory information; values conflicts among stakeholders; multiple constraints in different spheres (political, economic, environmental); incompatible framing of both solutions and problems; connections to other problems. Wicked problems abound in natural resources and environmental sciences -- from climate change, to pollution, to environmental justice, and invasive species.

This certificate highlights NRES classes that specifically center these wicked problems, and it allows students from across the University to bring their own individual and disciplinary knowledge to bear on these problems. It is open to students of all majors.

This combination of courses, along with the courses that students select in their major course of study, will give students a unique perspective on some of the most pressing environmental challenges that confront humanity, and it will allow them to reflect on the complexity and multi-dimensional nature of potential solutions to these problems. With a combination of spring and fall course offerings, and a selection of both in-person on online classes to choose from, the Certificate in Wicked Problems in NRES is a flexible course of study that can be completed with as little as 9 credit hours. Successful completion of this certificate will help students become better problem-solvers as they embark upon their future careers.


How to Get Started

Complete the certificate application form.


  • Complete at least nine credit hours
  • Take courses for academic credit and earn a "B" or better for all courses
  • Please see the list below for specific course requirements for each certificate specialization

Course Requirements

  • Complete NRES 287 - Environment and Society (3 Hours, offered every spring)
  • Complete 6 additional hours of coursework from the following list:
    • NRES 103 - The Great Lakes: Freshwater Wonder at Risk (3 Hours, offered every fall)
    • NRES 105 - Climate Change Impacts on Ecological Systems (3 Hours, offered every spring)
    • NRES 224 - Social Justice and Environment (3 Hours, offered every fall)
    • NRES 362 - Ecology of Invasive Species (3 Hours, offered every spring)
    • NRES 418 - Wetland Ecology and Management (3 Hours, offered fall of even years)
    • NRES 420 - Restoration Ecology (4 Hours, offered every spring)
    • NRES 423 - Politics of International Conservation and Development (3 Hours, offered every spring)
    • NRES 428 - Valuing Nature (3 Hours, offered every fall)
    • NRES 439 - Environment and Sustainable Development (3 Hours, offered fall of odd years)
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Register and Enroll

Get started today!

Once you are ready to commit to the certificate program, complete the College of ACES application for non-degree seeking status. Please note that you are applying for admission to the certificate program.



Estimated tuition and fees for the Professional Development Certificate depend on the number of courses and hours taken. See Illinois Online for tuition and fee information.

Obtaining your Certificate

Upon successful completion of certificate requirements, complete this form.

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