in the field

Students at Au Sable InstituteEMU grad Trevor Weaver (right) and an Au Sable Institute classmate study environmental science in the field.

Student researches compostKate Nussbaum takes measurements on a dining hall waste pile during a composting research course. Learn more about research at EMU

Environmental Sustainability Major

Biology, sociology and peacebuilding professors work closely together on environmental sustainability courses that weave forward-thinking sustainability practices with issues of international and community development and conservation.

You’ll choose one of two tracks of study within the environmental sustainability major:

Environmental science concentration

Students focus on “traditional” environmental science courses from the disciplines of ecology, chemistry and physiology, but also learn the interdisciplinary nature of environmental research and issues while working with sociology, economics, and development professors.

Classes address local and global sustainability issues and include hands-on research projects. During a required internship, students work with a local environmental organization such as Shenandoah National Park, The Nature Conservancy or the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality.

Environmental and social sustainability concentration

This track combines traditional environmental science coursework with applied sociology courses that emphasize international and community development and conservation.

You’ll have hands-on opportunities to work in areas of personal interest like peace education, legislative and foreign policy advocacy, community organizing, restorative justice and mediation, social justice and peace advocacy, human rights and immigrants’ rights.

Examples of Washington, D.C. internships through EMU’s Washington Community Scholars’ Center :

Local internships in Harrisonburg, Virginia include:

Our graduate program in peacebuilding is also an asset to any undergrad in the fields of development and sustainability; dozens of grad-level international scholars flock to EMU each year to study at the Center for Justice and Peacebuilding. And many professors around campus have decades of experience working and living overseas advocating for those in the margins.

Students do hands-on research

In recent years science students presented research findings at the Virginia Academy of Sciences. Their abstracts appeared in the Virginia Journal of Science, and a peer-reviewed journal.

Biology professor Doug Graber-Neufeld has also worked with the National Science Foundation for years to take students to Cambodia and Thailand to work alongside local scientists on issues of drinking water quality and sewage treatment. Professor Jim Yoder collaborates in-the-field with Shenandoah National Park research botanists and several EMU undergraduate students on a study of rare plant species in the area.

Students in a green design course shared their findings with the EMU board of trustees for use in the soon-to-be-renovated Suter Science Center. Other hands-on courses have included a composting research class and a sustainable agriculture class that had a big impact on the campus garden and covered a range of agricultural topics like soil science and crop production from a sustainability perspective.

Learn more about EMU faculty-student research collaborations

See course descriptions and curriculum info.