Environmental Studies Program
ENVIRONMENTAL STUDIES IS AN INTERDISCIPLINARY INQUIRY into the relationship between humans and the environment. It draws on work in natural science, life science, social science, humanities and the arts, to help students gain a deeper understanding, both of the environmental problems facing the world and of proactive opportunities for change.
Among issues of concern and investigation are:
- resource utilization
- the impact of technology on ecosystems
- relationships between the environment and sociocultural systems
- geographic information systems analysis
- environmental economics and policy
- conservation of biological diversity
- nature writing, alternative dispute resolution
- environmental psychology
- environmental ethics
- and many others
The Environmental Studies Major and Minor
Both a major and a minor are available to students who have an interest in rigorously studying these issues. The major requires students to develop a specific environmental focus as a concentration, in addition to the environmental core and distribution courses. The minor allows students to integrate an environmental perspective into their major field of study.
In 2009, the University instituted slight changes to the Environmental Studies (ENVS) major and minor. These changes aim to extend the range of perspectives and approaches students acquire as part of their Environmental Studies coursework. Instead of requiring specific courses, the revised requirements provide a broader range of courses for students to choose from in order to complete an ENVS major or minor.
Please see ENVS Major Minor Checklist 2013 [pdf] for additional information about the ENVS major and minor.
For any further questions please contact Brenda Franks
The Mission of the Environmental Studies Program is Threefold:
1. To educate our students in the interdisciplinary framework of understanding and responding to global, regional, and local environmental challenges
2. To help our students delineate topical specialties where they can become familiar with the knowledge base of the interdisciplinary framework
3. To develop in our students the problem-solving skills necessary to frame, analyze, describe, and ultimately offer realistic solutions to environmental challenges
As an interdisciplinary inquiry, it is neither practical nor appropriate for ENVS to itemize specific theoretical foundations that students are universally expected to master. Students whose orientation is in the social sciences, for instance, will approach the issues with a different perspective than will those in the natural sciences; it would be unrealistic, and indeed, unwise, to portray the field as a monolithic entity.
The interdisciplinary framework inherently means that we promote no single avenue to impart basic knowledge, to solve problems, or to develop particular skills. Rather, under this heading, ENVS fosters a "bridging" function that utilizes the best of many traditional disciplines. For instance, there is no single perspective that can be employed adequately to understand an issue like water pollution: it involves biology, chemistry, sociology and anthropology, geology and geography, economics, political science, communication, etc. Our job is to involve the relevant specialties and to equip our students with literacy in the intersection of these specialties for the problem at hand.
In order to prevent the obvious dangers of superficial dabbling in numerous disciplines, ENVS requires its students to identify particular areas, either by topical interest or disciplinary boundaries, within which they develop depth of understanding. In particular, students are responsible for:
* a fundamental comprehension of philosophical roots,
* theoretical positions,
* essential arguments,
* methodologies, and
* fundamental assumptions in that area.
They are able to apply that field to environmental issues in a thoughtful and useful manner. This knowledge base in a particular specialty is imperative to help students parse out research questions for senior research projects and other culminating experiences in the major.
Perhaps most importantly, ENVS emphasizes the integration of problem-solving into the basic interdisciplinary framework and the depth component so that our students are qualified to:
* develop research questions,
* operationalize hypotheses,
* design and carry out empirical research,
* perform statistical tests,
* evaluate alternative solutions, and
* both document and defend policy options through clear written and spoken presentations.
With these critical skills, our students will have the rigorous and multifaceted education that will enable them to contribute usefully to the environmental field.
What do environmental studies majors do after college?
Recent graduates in environmental studies have followed many different paths:
- Suzanne Humphrey '10, Graduate student, Ohio State University
- Lindsay Ehrhart '09, Campus Organizer, U.S. PIRG, University of Maryland
- Miranda Carter '09, Green Corps Community Organizer, Lexington
- Sarah Kafer '07, Environmental Education Specialist, Girl Scouts of Ohio's Heartland, Columbus
- Laramie Bowron '07, Assistant Planner for Moore & Associates
- Kathleen McNeill '06, Individual Giving Manager from the Environmental Law Institute
- Molly Flanagan '02, Environment Program Officer at the Joyce Foundation, Chicago
- Jack Hopkins '99, Ph.D. candidate in Ecology, Montana State University, Bozeman
Seniors who major in Environmental Studies complete either a one-semester Senior Project or a full-year Senior Research paper to fulfill graduation requirements. The following are some of the many research endeavors undertaken by environmental studies majors in recent years:
- "Brownfields, Public Health, and Environmental Justice in Ohio"
- "The Denison University Biological Reserve: A Study of Use, Rule Compliance, and Sustainability"
- "Food, Faith and Farming: Catholic Involvement in Sustainable Solutions for Hunger"
- "Growing Foodsheds through Community Supported Agriculture"
- "An Analysis of Future Land Use Change in Licking County: An Application of an Interactive GIS-Based Planning Support System"
- "Sustainable Development and Corporate Culture: Green Consideration in Corporate USA"
- "Evaluating the effect of Genetically-Modified Organisms on Organic Farming: Assessing Issues, Cultivating Solutions"
- "Rough Waters: North and South Tensions and Environmental Education of the Galapagos Fishing Sector"
- "Impending Urban Sprawl: Impacts and Responses of Urban Sprawl on Small Colleges and Universities"
- "Sustainable Urban Development in Asian Mega-Cities"
Many students pursue off-campus summer internships. Here are some examples of recent internships:
- Danielle Isaacson '12 - Intern, Student Conservation Association
- Thomas Schultz '11- Environmental Policy Intern, Ohio Environmental Council, Columbus, OH
- Caitlin Splawski '10 - Sustainable Agriculture Intern at the Rodale Institute, Kutztown, PA. Read more about Caitlin's internship experience [pdf]
- Milica Dzelatovic '05 - intern with the Ministry of Energy in Belgrade, Yugoslavia; worked with the planning department on environmental issues
- Lindsay Michael '05 - Parks Planning Assistant with Pittsburgh's Natural Systems Study; assisted with data collection
- Mihkel Allpere '04 - Environmental Education summer intern at The Great Smoky Mountain Institute; taught natural history and science at summer youth camps
- Melanie Houston '04 - coordinator of an organic gardening project for court-involved youth
- Adam Klein '04 - intern with The Delta Institute; assisted with the implementation of a watershed management plan
- Elizabeth Jackson '04 - educator with The Blue Ocean Society; worked on whale-watching boats with a naturalist