ES 110 Environmental Studies as a Natural Science
A study of the basic ecological processes operative in natural systems, our dependence upon those systems and the impact of human activities upon them.
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 join an environmental club, work in the College's organic garden and get involved in numerous sustainability initiatives.
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 five centers for interdisciplinary scholarship. 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.
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.
Bob Askins teaches courses in ornithology, animal behavior, ecology and conservation biology. He is nationally recognized for his research of the ecology of migratory birds and the impact of forest fragmentation on their populations.
Siri Colom joins the Connecticut College faculty as a postdoctoral fellow in environmental studies in 2014.
Andrew N. Davis is associated with the College's Goodwin Niering Center for the Environment. Davis is a partner in the Real Estate, Environmental and Land Use Practice Group in the Hartford office of Shipman & Goodwin LLP, where he leads the environmental practice. He counsels diverse public and private clients in transactional, permitting, compliance and enforcement matters under federal and state health and safety, hazardous waste, air and water pollution, site development and property transfer laws.
Jane Dawson continues to conduct ambitious global study, examining in greater detail how environmentalism may be linked to a variety of subgroup identities across a broad spectrum of political settings and the implications of this linkage for the achievement of domestic and international environmental policy objectives.
Chad Jones is interested in a wide range of topics in plant ecology. His research has involved two major themes: plant succession and invasive species.
Manuel Lizarralde, a professor with a dual appointment in anthropology and botany, grapples with questions of people and the environment on a daily basis in his teaching and research. A native of Venezuela, Lizarralde has focused much of his work on the relation of indigenous Latin Americans to the environment, including the types of areas they inhabit and their use of plants. He studies ethnobotany (how people use plants) because the indigenous knowledge of local plants is very rich, and all of these cultures are rapidly changing and the information is being lost.
Michelle C. Neely's research and teaching focus on questions of nature, culture and democracy in American literature before 1900. As an assistant professor at Connecticut College, Neely has built on her environmental, animal studies, and food studies expertise by developing courses for interdisciplinary contexts such as the Environmental Studies Program and by teaching a wide range of seminars and surveys in American literature before 1900. Neely also advises students as an active faculty fellow in the college’s Goodwin-Niering Center for the Environment and is a new fellow in the Ammerman Center for Arts and Technology.
A noted expert in limnology, the study of lakes, Peter Siver teaches classes in introductory biology, introductory botany, environmental studies, phycology, limnology and geographic information systems. Siver's research helps to disprove the hypothesis that acid rain always causes lakes to become more acidic. Focusing mainly on Connecticut lakes, Siver demonstrates that Southern New England lakes have not become more acidic as a result of acid deposition.
Doug Thompson's research falls within the discipline of geology and the sub-discipline of fluvial geomorphology. Geomorphology is best defined as the study of the landforms and the natural processes responsible for their formation. Many of the geomorphic topics of interest include the landforms and processes associated with rivers, glaciers, landslides, beaches and arid regions.
Derek Turner regularly teaches Introduction to Philosophy, Logic, Bioethics, Environmental Philosophy, Philosophy of Science, Philosophy of Biology, and Darwin. He also enjoys teaching courses on the history of philosophy. In Spring 2014, he taught a new course on the science and ethics of extinction.
Wei Zhang is interested in the decision making of firms and farms under government policies, especially environmental policies, and how these policies affect their economic performance. Her recent research is on the economics of environmental regulation of agricultural and food production, with a focus on the dairy industry in California.
Marc Zimmer teaches general chemistry, molecular science and environmental chemistry. He has tried to make these courses relevant and interesting by introducing the most recent developments in general, medicinal and environmental chemistry in his classes.
Environmental studies, dance
A: I wanted to pursue my interests in both environmental studies and dance, and was drawn by each of those programs here.
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.
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.