Home > Academic Catalog > 2011-13 Academic Catalog > Academic Programs > Environmental Studies

Environmental Studies

Program Director: John Van Hoesen, Ph.D.
Division of Environmental Studies & Management

Programs offered:

  • BA in Environmental Studies

  • Minor in Environmental Studies

The Bachelor of Arts in Environmental Studies
Environmental Studies at Green Mountain provides students with a solid understanding of ecological processes and a broad background in the range of disciplines, which study human interactions with the environment. The major provides all students with basic information and skills from the natural sciences, environmental policy, and economics, and it provides the opportunity for students to pursue their interests in one of four concentration areas: environmental policy, sustainable design and energy, natural sciences, and environmental education and communications.

Learning Outcomes for Environmental Studies Core Curriculum
The successful student will:

  • Students will demonstrate the ability to integrate science, economics and policy when solving social and environmental problems creatively in a professional setting.

  • Students will understand and be able to articulate different perspectives regarding the origins and solutions to social and environmental problems, and develop appropriate processes to resolve differences and bring about positive change.

Our strong emphasis on regional issues and our deep commitment to interdisciplinary studies prepares students to effectively address the complexities of environmental problems. Vermont’s rich environment provides laboratories for the natural science courses, and local issues engage students in ethics and policy classes. With diverse ecosystems close to campus, rich opportunities exist for field study and outdoor adventure. Off-campus field courses broaden students’ perspectives and a variety of courses address the global dimensions of environmental problems, including climate change, loss of biodiversity, and habitat degradation.

Environmental Studies students pursue an internship as their capstone experience, usually completed during the summer following their junior year. Internship proposal guidelines are sent electronically to all majors, and they are available from any faculty advisor. Proposals must be approved by faculty advisors and then submitted for review to the Environmental Studies Committee by April 25 for summer or fall interns, and by November 24 for winter or spring interns. On rare occasions, the Environmental Studies Committee approves proposals for a research capstone experience.

During their junior year students take a course titled The Environmental Professional. In addition to preparing for internships and honing interpersonal skills essential to success in environmental fields, students in this course assess their strengths and areas for development in anticipation of their final year of undergraduate education. To prepare for this junior year assessment, all Environmental Studies majors should keep a portfolio of their academic work.

Departmental Honors
To graduate with honors in the Environmental Studies major, students must have a cumulative GPA of at least 3.3 in all courses and have a GPA of at least 3.5 in the major. Candidates must successfully petition to the Environmental Studies Committee to be considered for honors. Petitions will be considered only from students who have completed 75 credits. Candidates must form a three-person honors committee to evaluate an honors research project. The committee should include two faculty members who teach in the Environmental Studies concentration in which the research takes place and one person from outside the department. Candidates must also do a substantive honors research project in the major, write up the project in an honors thesis, and defend the thesis in a public forum. Candidates must take 21 credits in the major at the upper level.

Block Courses
Environmental Studies periodically offers special interdisciplinary block courses, from six to fifteen credits that focus on complex environmental issues in the region and often involve overnight field trips. These have recently included The Northern Forest, The Lake Champlain Basin, The Hudson River, The Adirondacks, Renewing Civil Society, The Promise and Peril of Biotechnology, The Vermont Wilderness Debate, Soil Ecology, and Food, Agriculture, and Community Development in the Northeast.

Requirements for the BA in Environmental Studies
Environmental Studies Core:

**Students concentrating in Natural Sciences and the Environment must take General Chemistry. Environmental Chemistry is strongly recommended for all other concentrations.

By fall of their junior year, students declare one of these four areas of primary concentration:
1. Sustainable Design & Energy (24 credits)
2. Environmental Policy (18 credits)
3. Environmental Education & Communication (21 credits)
4. Natural Science (23 credits)

Credits: 18-23

General Electives:
Total General Electives may vary depending on credits taken in ENV Concentration.
Credits: 33-42

ELA Requirements:
See ELA section of this catalog for details
Credits: 36-37

Total credits for BA in Environmental Studies: 120

Environmental Studies Concentrations

1. Sustainable Design and Energy*
Mission of this concentration: By combining their experiences in the classroom and through hands-on renewable energy and sustainable design projects, students in this concentration will integrate innovative design and fabrication skills and knowledge with an interdisciplinary, liberal arts perspective to prepare them for further studies and/or careers in sustainable design and renewable energy.

Learning Outcomes:

  • Students will understand the social and environmental challenges of current domestic and global energy systems, and the solutions and regulatory reforms needed to create a sustainable energy future.

  • Students will understand and be able to apply ecological design principles to the built environment and will be prepared for further study and careers in renewable energy and sustainable design.

Concentration Core

Concentration Electives: Choose 9 credits *Students completing the concentration in sustainable design and energy automatically are awarded the REED Certificate.

2. Environmental Policy
Mission of the concentration: Students will understand how environmental goals are pursued and achieved through governmental organizations. Students will combine theoretical study, exposure to practitioners in the field, and hands-on experience in policy-setting settings to develop and hone managerial and advocacy skills. In this program students will learn the value of consensus, efficiency, justice and cross-cultural understanding in light of governing environmental concerns.

Learning Outcomes:

  • Students will understand and evaluate systems of domestic and international environmental law and policy, and the different philosophical frameworks that shape environmental decision-making.

  • Students will develop the analytical and advocacy skills appropriate to pursue graduate degrees and to directly engage in public policy processes in the public and private sectors.

Concentration Core:

Concentration Electives: Choose 12 credits
3. Environmental Education & Communication
Mission of this concentration: Education and communication serve to inspire and support effective environmental advocacy. In this interdisciplinary major, students will learn to engage diverse audiences while teaching and communicating environmental awareness, knowledge, and skills associated with sustainable interactions with the environment. Coursework and projects will focus on field-based interpretation, the development of learning modules, and the publication of media campaigns. Students will be able to lead, manage, and communicate educational- and advocacy-based programs that seek an informed resolution of environmental issues.

Learning Outcomes:

  • Students will be able to engage diverse audiences while teaching and communicating environmental awareness, knowledge, and skills associated with sustainable interactions with the environment.

  • Students will be able to lead, manage, and communicate educational- and advocacy-based programs that seek an informed resolution of environmental issues.

Concentration Core:

Concentration ElectivesChoose 9 credits
4. Natural Sciences
Mission of this concentration: The mission of the Natural Sciences focus area is that graduates understand patterns and processes in Earth’s ecosystems, demonstrate skill in field and lab study, and apply science to environmental problems in diverse career paths from research and education to resource management and planning to achieve sustainable human-ecosystem systems.

Learning Outcomes:

  • Students will demonstrate understanding of the biological, chemical, and geological bases for environmental problems and their possible solutions.

  • Students will understand quantitative field study, experimental design, and data analysis. Field study skills will include strong observational skills and the ability to identify organisms.

Students in the Natural Sciences focus area take introductory biology, general chemistry, geology and ecology, and an additional 15 credits as electives within the sciences. We encourage students to develop expertise in one area but also to take electives in other fields of science. We also encourage students to gain research experience, either through summer research opportunities or with GMC faculty.

Concentration Core:

Concentration Electives - Choose 15 credits

Environmental Studies Minor
The environmental studies minor is available to all Bachelor’s degree candidates. To fulfill the requirements for this minor, students complete at least nineteen credits in the environmental studies area. The following courses are required for the minor:

Environmental Studies Electives: 10-13
Credits selected from either the core or the concentrations listed in the Environmental Studies major. At least six of these credits must be at the upper level.

Total credits for a Minor in Environmental Studies: 19-22

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