Environmental Sustainability Major

The environmental sustainability major focuses on an interdisciplinary approach to sustaining the quality of our natural world, with an emphasis on the interrelationships between the natural world and humanity. The environmental sustainability major at EMU is designed around an understanding that effectively addressing the pressing environmental problems of our times demands a multifaceted approach that requires both depth in an area of focus, and breadth in understanding the perspectives of different disciplines. Students gain depth by choosing to concentrate on either natural science or social science aspects of environmental sustainability. Students gain breadth through coursework that combines essential elements from social science and from natural science to bring a holistic and integrated perspective to complex social and environmental issues pertaining to sustainability.

Environmental Sustainability faculty
Professors from biology, sociology, peacebuilding, and development collaborate to offer students an inter-disciplinary approach to studying and practicing environmental sustainability.

The environmental sustainability curriculum recognizes a balance between technical training and the broad education of a liberal arts philosophy. Completion of the environmental sustainability major careers such as conservation, environmental monitoring, agriculture, international development, alternative energy promotion and development, sustainable development, agricultural extension, environmental advocacy, and environmental education. In addition, the curriculum prepares students for graduate work in many areas related to sustainability.

The environmental sustainability program at EMU is distinctly practice-oriented in a number of ways:

  • The curriculum is interdisciplinary, integrating different disciplines into their coursework in a way that gives students a holistic view of environmental issues
  • Diverse opportunities for practicum. All students fulfill a substantial practicum component that gives them experience in working with environmentally-related organizations. EMU’s location in the Shenandoah Valley gives students unique access to a wide range of organizations both in the valley and in nearby Washington D.C..
  • All students take a capstone course in which seniors from the two different tracks (science and social sustainability) work together to bring their knowledge to bear on a common project of local relevance.
  • Students are closely involved with the wide range of sustainability initiatives on campus, both in the context of their coursework and outside of their courses. In addition, sustainability is the focus of some of the EMU cross-cultural programs, such as the fall 2012 trip to New Zealand and the summer 2013 to Bolivia and the Galapagos.