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spinning globe The study of the environment challenges traditional notions of limits and boundaries. Enormously complex and highly interdependent, our environment on the Earth encompasses the soils and geology of the lithosphere, the oceans, glaciers, streams, and freshwater bodies of the hydrosphere, gases and particulate matter of the atmosphere, and the complex "web of life" of the biosphere. Contamination and disturbance of any of these parts can cause subtle, yet profound, problems that can affect our present lives and those of future generations. Devising solutions to these requires both a background in science, an ability to understand historical perspectives, and the skills to communicate with people and appreciate their values. Short-term technical or legislative fixes alone will not be enough; we must have a diverse background in order to propose creative solutions to difficult problems.

spinning globe Lasting solutions to environmental issues will come from talented men and women who combine strong backgrounds in the natural sciences with broad understanding of culture, economics, ethics, politics, and religion. Westminster College has created an interdisciplinary program to provide the knowledge, skills, and perspectives needed to understand, address, and resolve the environmental challenges of our global society. The Environmental Science Program is designed to provide a core curriculum in soil, water and earth sciences along with courses relating the history and literature on the environment with the politics and economics of the environment on human society. Beyond the core the majors emphasize either the social/political/human attributes or the scientific. They are designed for students who want to specialize in environmental legislation, planning, or resource management versus those who prefer to work directly in the environment with soils, wildlife, or other natural resources. Our challenging interdisciplinary curriculum combines academic rigor with real-world savvy. Intended to prepare students for successful careers in the environmental area as well as graduate study, such as the University of Missouri, it fosters:

  • Understanding of the relationships within the natural world and between that world and the "constructed reality" of humankind

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  • Ability to analyze and integrate knowledge from a wide range of disciplines

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  • Ability to communicate across disciplines and to collaborate with colleagues to solve problems and address real-world issues
A required internship experience ensures that students in environmental studies will have first-hand experience with issues of the day while developing professional contacts. The program also offers opportunities for off-campus study of the national parks of the United States as well as ecosystems in Belize, Kenya, and Tanzania. An integrative capstone course draws together skills in the natural and social sciences to propose an off-campus project and write and defend an environmental impact statement for the project.

Possible careers could include positions with the Environmental Protection Agency, the Forest Service, the Natural Resource Conervation Service, the Geological Survey, the Fish and Wildlife Service, and the Bureau of Land Management at the federal level, the Department of Conservation and the Department of Natural Resources at the state level, or private agencies, such as the Wilderness Society, the Sierra Club, the Trust for Public Land, and the Audubon Society.