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This major is interdisciplinary, designed for those with environmental interests and career goals. The program emphasizes experiential learning, commonly through field studies and outdoor education. Courses include real projects and original research participation. Students begin their curriculum with the development of a firm base in the sciences and mathematics. Each student develops an area of specialization by selecting a concentration from one of two options. Option I concentrations lead to a heavier emphasis in science and engineering, and include environmental biology, environmental geology, environmental engineering, environmental chemistry, and climate science. Option II concentrations result in a stronger emphasis in the social sciences, humanities and business, and include environmental policy & management, environmental law & protection, environmental writing, green design, and environmental education.
All environmental science majors take a pair of capstone courses involving an original research project and a seminar designed to synthesize their education and tie scientific thought to issues in society. The department houses a number of instruments for environmental monitoring and analysis, and students also have access to resources in their area of concentration.
The Environmental Science program is equipped with HACH field chemical analysis equipment, water and soil sampling equipment, and a field station for remote investigations of the Dog River Valley ecosystem. With our ICAP spectrometer lab, we conduct quantitative chemical analyses of soils and water from streams, lakes, and aquifers, while our mobile field equipment is used to collect water quality data. Geophysical tools include a gravity meter, seismograph, magnetometer, electromagnetometer, and ground penetrating radar that are used to investigate the impact of human activities on subsurface conditions. Scanning electron microscopy facilities allow for investigation of inorganic components of soils and X-ray diffractometry facilities allow for analysis of mineral deposits that preserve important records of past climate and environmental conditions. Equipment for the collection and analysis of sediment and soil is housed in the program with further analytical capabilities housed in associated programs on campus.