Group 3 Group 4 Subjects

Overview: Environmental Systems and Societies (ESS)

This article discusses the parameters that surround the course of Environmental Systems and Societies (ESS) from Group 4. I aim to help students infer whether or not the course is a good fit for them!

What is ESS?

As stated by the IBO, the Environmental Systems and Societies (ESS) interdisciplinary course “is firmly grounded in both a scientific exploration of environmental systems in their structure and function, and in the exploration of cultural, economic, ethical, political and social interactions of societies with the environment”. 

We look into environmental issues from a societal perspective (relating to political, cultural, economic and etcetera affairs).

To inform yourself more about the course’s curriculum and requirements, you may check the following link.

Topics in the ESS Syllabus:

  1. Foundations of environmental systems and societies
  2. Ecosystems and ecology
  3. Biodiversity and conservation
  4. Water and aquatic food production systems and societies
  5. Soil systems and terrestrial food production systems and societies
  6. Atmospheric systems and societies
  7. Climate change and energy production
  8. Human systems and resource use

In my honest opinion as an ESS student, it is easier to understand Topics 3 to 8, if you fully understand and apply your own knowledge from Topics 1 and 2. I believe this is because most fundamentals are taught in the first 2 topics. This may give you a more holistic view of the topics the course will cover next. Therefore, I recommend reading your textbook, writing summaries, and asking your ESS teacher for more background information.

The course may be right for you if you like:

1. Researching

 If you desire to find new ways of locating the information you wouldn’t typically find, this is your course-to-go! I always found myself looking for new ways to find data. Consequently, I have managed to improve my research skills immensely, thanks to ESS!

2. Writing Essays

This course will demand you to excel in your descriptive and analytical skills, as well as redacting coherent ideas. While this may seem like a good reason not to enter the class, but as an IB student, it is essential for you to improve your writing skills. This may be an opportunity to enhance such skills and improve as time goes on!

3. Discussing Current Issues

Whether or not you agree or disagree with the committed actions towards a problem, it would be best if you learn more about past and recent issues our society is facing due to poor management. To some it may appear “boring”, but in reality, this may be helpful  when debating important issues that may one day impact your future.

Is ESS easy or difficult?

In comparison to the other science-related subjects, ESS is an interdisciplinary course that aims to analyze today’s management towards the various environmental issues our kind has imposed. This may give a wrong vibe to prospective IB students and lead them to think that it’s the easiest course. Be wary, because it isn’t. I’ve seen many students in nearby IB schools struggling, due to the fact that they decided to take ESS as a filler subject. Unfortunately, this was their downfall. A course shouldn’t be taken to “fill the spots” or because “it doesn’t demand as much as others”; it should be selected with the objective of learning out of the box and exploring topics that outreach social parameters.

That being said, take this subject if you truly desire to navigate through extensive research of the truth behind our society’s management in today’s problems, affecting communities, wildlife, and nature itself.

Personally, this course has been really interesting and helped me understand the environmental problems we face, no matter our nationality, religion, gender, or age. I hope you’ve enjoyed learning about the basics of what you’ll need to do in this course, as well as understanding or finally deciding whether this subject will be good for you! And even if you choose another subject, in the end, I hope for the best accomplishments for you in the near future.

Best of luck!

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