Washington University in St. Louis now offers a major in Environmental Analysis as part of the Environmental Studies in Arts and Sciences program. The Interdisciplinary Major is a response to the global demand for environmental and sustainability experts who are able to think critically, communicate clearly, and problem-solve collaboratively with their communities.
“When you look at the big issues facing humanity, they all touch on the environment – climate change, environmental justice, environmental health,” said David Fike, director of environmental studies, professor of environmental science. earth and planets in arts and sciences and associate. director of the International Center for Energy, Environment and Sustainable Development (InCEES). “The new major in environmental analysis will provide students with a foundation in the natural sciences, social sciences and humanities, and give them the skills to put this knowledge into a prospective analysis framework. It is an interdisciplinary approach that reflects what is happening in the real world.
Previously, arts and science students who wished to focus on the environment were largely limited to three main subjects: environmental earth sciences in the department of earth and planetary sciences; environmental biology in the Department of Biology; or environmental policy in the Department of Political Science. This new major offers a home – literally and figuratively – for students seeking both a more applied curriculum and cohort experience. The Faculty of Environmental Studies shares the second floor of the new Schnuck Pavilion with the Sustainability Office, where many students are working on university sustainability projects such as expanding solar power on campus, inventorying building energy use, and reducing food waste.
“The students were scattered around the campus, as were the professors,” Fike said. “Now the university has a strong, solid environmental program that includes not only academics and research, but also practice and commitment. “
Core disciplinary courses include “One Health: Making the Links Between Human, Animal and Environmental Health”, “Sustainability in Business” and “To Sustainability and Beyond: People, Life and the Environment”. planet, prosperity. ”
In addition, students are required to take courses in Analysis, Social Identity, and Communication, such as “Environmental Writing,” “Field Methods for Environmental Sciences,” “Social Inequalities in America” and “Solving environmental problems”.
Elective courses are offered in sociology, political science, anthropology and other disciplines. Fike said scientists need a fundamental understanding of social systems and political forces to move forward.
“Data, on its own, is never the complete answer,” Fike said. “All real world problems are rooted in communities. Making sure our students have skills in communication and awareness of community issues is how you make a real impact.
The environmental studies program is one of the few that has a dedicated community engagement coordinator. Carolyn Cosgrove Payne is currently in this role and has worked with past and current external partners including A Red Circle, Restorative Justice Movement Center, Missouri Coalition for the Environment, Green Cities Coalition, Metro and the City of St. Louis.
“This community-based experiential learning is one of the things that we do really well,” said, Eleanor Pardini, Deputy Director of Environmental Studies and Senior Lecturer. “We teach our students, it’s not just the work you do, but how you do it. Do you engage meaningfully with the community partner? Do you know how to tap into the expertise and knowledge of the community? You will have a better solution if you have more people and voices around the table.