From ancient Sumer to the present, ecological realities have required human beings to reflect on their values and their responsibilities to nature. Citizens of the 21st century need a truly broad foundation to deal with the complexities of current environmental issues. By examining environmental issues and their interactions with our society, students learn to recognize cultural ties to the environment, food production, urban planning, biodiversity, and society’s energy and water requirements.
About The Program
Environmental studies draws on the diverse perspectives of the liberal arts tradition. The program integrates frames of references from the natural and social sciences and the humanities in order to understand the interrelationships between science, society, technology, culture, and nature. It is hoped that this program will engender a critical understanding of the interdependencies of all life and the necessity of moving human society toward sustainability.
Major: Environmental Studies (BA)
Minor: Environmental Studies
All students in the program can conduct an intensive study of the environment through an internship or independent research project. The internship is a practiced, supervised experience in which students apply their knowledge and skills to the workplace. Practical and applied learning in an applied setting gives the student a “competitive edge” for future community and workplace contribution. Placements can include educational settings, grassroots activism, public policy, and habitat management. Independent research can include a variety of potential topics under the mentorship of a VWU faculty member.
ENVS 283: Seminar in Alaska: Sustainability
Description: The majestic landscape of southeast Alaska provides the backdrop for this field-based course and allows hands-on exploration of the complex relationships between people and environments. "Live the text" as you learn about climate change while walking on a retreating glacier, study the life cycle of salmon while rafting the Chilkat River, identify plants and animals during a hike through a temperate rainforest, and discuss ancient and contemporary concepts of sustainability with native Tlingit people.
The environmental studies program prepares students well for a variety of diverse career fields. Students have gone on to pursue careers in law, public policy, scientific research, environmental literature, and teaching.