The Skidmore College Environmental Studies Program (ES) builds upon and enhances the mission of the College. First, the program helps students become environmentally literate citizens. Such citizens as consumers, parents, voters, and community leaders will serve society by acting responsibly as we face the environmentally related challenges of the new century. Secondly, the program provides an understanding of the connections between academic fields and an interdisciplinary perspective in the preparation of students interested in environmentally oriented career paths in a wide diversity of disciplines.
Students and faculty in the ES program investigate the interrelationships among cultural traditions, social change, and institutions, and the physical and biological environment in which we live. Because of their increasing complexity, emerging environmental issues require knowledge, methods, and responses that flow from many disciplines. Hence the program depends heavily on an appropriately balanced understanding of many perspectives drawn from the natural and social sciences, humanities, arts, and pre-professional programs. The ES major culminates in a team-oriented capstone project, ES 375, that merges theory into practice by employing the student’s environmental skills and knowledge in the examination and presentation of an environmental issue. The Environmental Studies Major:
As a foundation for the major, all students must take ES100 and 105. As a capstone to the major, students must take ES367/368 Junior Seminar in Environmental Studies and ES375 Case Studies in Environmental Sustainability. In addition, ES majors must meet the core requirements for one of the two ES tracks (i.e., Social & Cultural Perspectives or Environmental Science). Students who major in ES and plan to attend graduate or professional schools are encouraged to design programs of study that meet admission requirements for graduate or professional schools of their choice. Honors:
ES Program honors are awarded to an ES senior who has maintained the required college and department grade averages and who, by the end of the first semester of the senior year, has either registered for or enrolled in ES376 Senior Thesis. The senior thesis proposal must be approved by the ES Steering Committee prior to enrollment in ES 376 Senior Seminar. In addition to the necessary grade averages and an A- or better on the ES senior thesis, the student must receive the recommendation of the ES program. See the ES Director or the ES Web page for additional information on senior thesis proposal submission. Social and Cultural Perspectives Track
The Social and Cultural Perspectives track draws upon disciplinary and interdisciplinary foundations in the social sciences, humanities, and arts to build understanding of how changes in the environment affect social organization and cultural development. Conversely, these courses also focus on how society and culture shape the environment and on the consequences of that influence. This track is well-suited for students interested in environmentally related activities in literature, journalism, education, sustainable development, policy and law, social service, public health, and resource management.
Students in the Social and Cultural Perspectives track must successfully complete at least thirty-nine to forty-two credits in approved courses that count toward the ES major. In addition to meeting the general requirements for the major, students take a series of core courses (no more than two courses from the same discipline; at least six credits at the 300 level): four to five courses from ES Cluster A: Culture, Society and the Environment (totaling at least fourteen credits); three additional courses from ES Cluster B1: Exploring the Natural World (at least one course with a lab; a total of ten to twelve credits); and one course from ES Cluster C: Interface of the Natural and Social Worlds (three to four credits). The faculty also strongly recommend that students take MS104E Introduction to Statistics prior to enrolling in ES367/368 Junior Seminar and take an appropriate methods course from the social sciences or humanities as preparation for the capstone project. Environmental Science Track
The Environmental Science Track affords study of the physical, chemical, and biological aspects of environmental issues, and to a significant degree, encourages exploration of how these aspects influence and are influenced by people and institutions. The courses in the core of this track provide students with a foundation in environmental issues as seen from the perspectives of the natural sciences and mathematics. This track is particularly well-suited for students interested in careers that require understanding of the scientific principles underlying environmental issues.
Students in the Environmental Science track must successfully complete at least forty-seven to fifty-six credits in approved courses that count toward the ES major. In addition to meeting the general requirements for the major, students take a series of core courses, which begins with CH112 Environmental Chemistry (or CH105 & 106 Chemical Principles I & II), GE207 Environmental Geology, and BI240 Environmental Biology (a total of eleven to fifteen credits). These three courses will provide a basis for understanding the breadth of environmental science by examining environmental issues through the lenses of the three natural science disciplines.
With this foundation in place, students will then explore the natural sciences in upper-level courses, but will have a firm comprehension of how the concepts apply to environmental science in particular. In order to build depth within the core, students will take a concentration of three courses within one natural science discipline (i.e., biology, chemistry or geology) from ES Cluster B2. Two of these courses must be at the 300 level, the third must at least be 200 level, and two of the three must be lab courses (a total of eleven to fourteen credits). In addition, students are required to take one 200- or 300-level course from ES Cluster B2 in a natural science discipline outside of the concentration discipline (three to four credits), one course from ES Cluster A: Culture, Society and Environment (three to four credits), one course from ES Cluster C: Interface of the Natural and Social Worlds (four credits), and MS104E Introduction to Statistics (four credits). The Environmental Studies Minor:
The minor requires completion of twenty-two to twenty-seven credit hours, including:
- Foundation course: ES100, Environmental Concerns in Perspective
- Cluster A courses: Culture, Society, and the Environment (six to eight credits)
- Cluster B1 courses: Exploring the Natural World (six to eight credits)
- Cluster C courses: Interface of the Natural and Social Worlds (three to four credits)
No more than two courses taken in a discipline may be counted for the ES minor. CLUSTER A: Culture, Society, and the Environment
Courses in this cluster examine the social and cultural dimensions of environmental issues. Drawing upon disciplinary and interdisciplinary foundations in the social sciences, humanities, and arts, these courses provide the student with an understanding of how changes in the environment affect social organization and cultural development. Courses in this cluster also examine how society and culture affect the environment and influence human response to environmental issues. Cluster A courses emphasize social and cultural perspectives (i.e., social sciences, humanities, and arts), although concepts in the natural sciences may be introduced as background material. Cluster A courses apply to the ES minor and both tracks of the ES major. CLUSTER B1 AND B2: Exploring the Natural World
Courses in this cluster examine the physical and biological aspects of environmental issues and, to a significant extent, examine how these aspects influence and are influenced by people. These courses offer students a scientific foundation in environmental issues by drawing on disciplinary and interdisciplinary courses in biology, chemistry, geology, mathematics, physics, and/or other disciplines. Cluster B courses emphasize the natural sciences, although social and cultural dimensions may be introduced as background material. Cluster B1 courses apply to the ES minor and the Social and Cultural Perspectives track of the ES major, whereas the extended list of B2 courses applies to the Environmental Science track of the ES major. CLUSTER C: Interface of the Natural and Social Worlds
Courses in this cluster examine the interdisciplinary dimensions of environmental issues by exploring the complex interrelationships of the social and natural worlds. Cluster C courses give students an interdisciplinary view of environmental issues by providing a nearly equal emphasis on social and cultural perspectives as well as natural science perspectives, and the relationship of these perspectives to one another. These courses develop an appreciation for and thoughtful response to environmental issues by developing knowledge and skills forged through learning and integration of the social sciences, natural sciences, humanities, and arts. Cluster C courses apply to the ES minor and both tracks of the ES major.
For course listings, please see the Skidmore College Catalog