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.
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.
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.