Majoring in Environmental Studies

Environmental Studies Certificate

Overview

Our program is one of the first in the U.S., founded in 1968 by nationally known ecologists and long-time faculty members William A. Niering and Richard H. Goodwin. The program is part of a College-wide commitment to conservation and sustainability. As a major, you choose from two tracks – one focused on natural science, the other on social science. Your professors are your instructors, advisers and mentors, and they push you to tackle issues from multiple perspectives. For example, you might take an environmental policy course focused on a particular area of the world, along with a class on the region's ecology, geology and plant life. Many students enroll in a semester-long immersion program at the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, Mass. You can also serve on the Environmental Model Committee, join the Renewable Energy Club, work in the College's organic garden and get involved in numerous sustainability initiatives.

Research opportunities

You have many research opportunities with faculty from any of 10 departments. Many students do summer internships with faculty, write peer-reviewed articles and travel with them to conferences or symposia. Others complete College-funded internships off campus. You may also apply to one of the College's interdisciplinary certificate programs. Students in the Goodwin-Niering Center have interned at sites as varied as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in Boston and organic farms in Costa Rica and Panama.

Facilities

Our equipment and facilities include transmission and scanning electron microscopes, light microscopes, an extensive greenhouse, water quality instruments and a hydraulic flume that models stream and river hydrodynamics. Classes and research take full advantage of the College's Arboretum, including areas established for long-term study of vegetation change. Our freshwater ecology lab maintains interactive data on lakes in the northeastern U.S. as well as tools to identify microscopic algae.

What can you do with a majorcertificate in Environmental Studies?

Here are some of the positions our graduates have gone on to hold:

  • Assistant Staff Scientist, Environmental Business Solutions
  • Planning and Development Manager, Greater Jamaica Development Corp.
  • Geologist, Encana Oil and Gas
  • Curatorial Assistant, Harvard University Herbaria
  • Program Director, Massachusetts Clean Energy Center
  • Real Estate Development Project Manager, Habitat for Humanity of Suffolk County
  • Assistant Corporate Counsel, Pfizer Inc.
  • Physical Scientist, Cape Cod National Seashore
  • Graduate Student, Princeton University
  • Environmental Field Tech, The Nature Conservancy
  • Land Conservation Director, Connecticut Forest and Park Association
  • Environmental Scientist, Excel Environmental Resources
  • Highway Planner, Connecticut Department of Transportation
  • Sustainable Tourism Consultant, Emerald Planet
  • Staff Economist, Cardno Entrix
  • Annual Fund Manager, Audubon California
  • Biologist, MWH Americas Inc.
  • Community Outreach Coordinator, Clean Currents
  • Earth Science Teacher, Valley Stream Central High School
  • Education Coordinator, Lower Columbia River Estuary

Faculty

Robert A. Askins, Katharine Blunt Professor of Biology

Robert A. Askins, Katharine Blunt Professor of Biology
Ecology, ornithology • Impact of forest fragmentation on natural communities • Ecology of early successional birds • Conservation biology

Beverly A. Chomiak, Senior Lecturer in Geology, Senior Lecturer in Environmental Studies

Beverly A. Chomiak, Senior Lecturer in Geology, Senior Lecturer in Environmental Studies
Economic geology and geochemistry • Geographic Information Systems (GIS)

Andrew Davis, Adjunct Assistant Professor of Environmental Studies

Andrew Davis, Adjunct Assistant Professor of Environmental Studies
Environmental studies • Environmental law and policy • Marine pollution

Jane Dawson, Virginia Eason Weinmann '51 Professor of Government and Environmental Studies, Director of the Goodwin-Niering Center for the Environment

Jane Dawson, Virginia Eason Weinmann '51 Professor of Government and Environmental Studies, Director of the Goodwin-Niering Center for the Environment  (On sabbatical Spring 2015)
International environmental justice • International environmental politics • Comparative environmental activism and politics

James T. Downs, Associate Professor of History

James T. Downs, Associate Professor of History
Nineteenth-century United States history • African-American Studies • History of medicine and public health

William Frasure, Professor of Government and International Relations

William Frasure, Professor of Government and International Relations
United States Politics • Environmental Policy and Law • Law and Public Policy

Chad Jones, George and Carol Milne Associate Professor of Life Sciences

Chad Jones, George and Carol Milne Associate Professor of Life Sciences
Plant ecology • Plant succession • Invasive species • GIS and ecological modeling

David Patton, Professor of Government and International Relations

David Patton, Professor of Government and International Relations
Comparative politics • European politics • European Union • Federal Republic of Germany

Douglas M. Thompson, Professor of Geology, Physics, Geophysics, Astronomy Department Chair 2014-2015

Douglas M. Thompson, Professor of Geology, Physics, Geophysics, Astronomy Department Chair 2014-2015
Geomorphology • Hydrology • Hazards • Geology • Geography • Civil engineering

Derek Turner, Associate Professor of Philosophy, Associate Director of the Goodwin-Niering Center for the Environment

Derek Turner, Associate Professor of Philosophy, Associate Director of the Goodwin-Niering Center for the Environment
Philosophy of science • Philosophy of biology • Environmental philosophy • Bioethics

Gerald R Visgilio, Professor of Economics

Gerald R Visgilio, Professor of Economics
Microeconomics • Environmental and natural resource economics • An economic analysis of law

Student profile


Rhea Corson-Higgs Rhea Corson-Higgs

Environmental studies, dance


Q: Why Connecticut College?
A: I wanted to pursue my interests in both environmental studies and dance, and was drawn by each of those programs here.


Q: What is it like to be an environmental studies major at Connecticut College?
A: The program is high-quality because students on both the natural and social science tracks are required to take a broad range of courses. I am on the social science track and have taken chemistry, botany and ecology courses. All contributed substantially to my understanding of environmental issues and gave me the skills for research, internships and career opportunities.


Q: Did you study abroad?
A: I went to Chile the spring semester of my junior year to study its social, economic, political and educational systems. The last half of the program was dedicated to independent research. I investigated the Chilean national science curriculum and its effects on environmental awareness and consciousness of urban youth.

Selected courses


  • Environmental Studies as a Natural Science
  • Environmental Studies as a Social Science
  • Hydrology
  • Environmental Activism and its Political Impact around the Globe
  • U.S. Environmental Policy and Politics
  • Introduction to Geographic Information Systems
  • Freshwater Ecology
  • Plant Ecology
  • Earth Surface Processes and Landforms
  • Coastal Dynamics of Southern New England
  • Geologic Hazards and Humans
  • Sustainable Agriculture
  • Law, Science and the Environment
  • Environmental Economics
  • Thinking Philosophically about the Environment

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Student research


Communities vs. Coal: A Comparative Analysis of the Movements against Surface Mining in Australia and the United States
By: Jessie Mehrhoff '14
Advising Faculty: Jane Dawson

Valve Shape in Eunotia: Comparing Modern and Fossil Floras to Determine Impacts of Greenhouse Climates
By: Jordan Bishop '14
Advising Faculty: Peter Siver

Environmental Injustices of the Electronics Life Cycle
By: Seana Siekman '13
Advising Faculty: Jane Dawson

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