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The Environmental Studies (ES) Program at Colby is one of the oldest and most distinguished in the country. From climate change to biodiversity loss and unsustainable use of natural resources, responding to environmental challenges is a national and international priority. Our students and faculty are active locally, nationally, and internationally in studying and helping to address these challenges. ES is one of the fastest growing programs at Colby and we offer a diverse, interdisciplinary, and project-based curriculum. Our gateway course (ES118) and senior capstone courses (ES493/494) are national models. Books and articles authored by Colby ES faculty are respected internationally. We have received major funding from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the National Science Foundation, and many other sources to support our initiatives. Our program has won awards from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the State of Maine, and others in recognition of our commitment to environmental sustainability and how we enable our students to engage with environmental challenges at Colby, in Maine, and around the world. Recent examples of our student-led initiatives include establishing an organic garden, developing a climate change action plan for the campus and the local community, and raising awareness at the state and federal levels about the dangers of using hazardous chemicals in personal care products and children’s toys. Colby was one of the first colleges in the nation to purchase 100% of its electricity from renewable energy sources, and has publicly declared its commitment to achieve carbon neutrality by 2015.
The Environmental Studies Program offers interdisciplinary majors in environmental policy, in environmental science, and in environmental computation as well as a minor in environmental studies that can be elected by majors in any discipline. Each ES major provides a broad-based course of study and prepares graduates to understand and to address the many complex environmental challenges facing our country and the world.
The environmental policy major provides a broad, interdisciplinary approach to the study of environmental policy at national and international levels. Students combine a foundation course in environmental studies with courses in environmental economics, domestic and international environmental law and politics, and environmental science. Diverse electives allow students to explore topics such as Geographic Information Systems (GIS), endangered spe¬cies policy, food policy, marine conservation, and environmental and human health. Students complete the Environmental Policy Practicum capstone seminar in the senior year. Recent capstone projects examined environmental issues in Maine and internationally, with topics ranging from energy to lakes water quality to human health (see: http://wiki.colby.edu/display/stateofmaine2010 and http://web.colby.edu/eastafricaupdate for examples).
The interdisciplinary environmental science major offers an introduction to national and global environmental issues and the opportunity to focus on the scientific basis for policy. This interdisciplinary major begins with a foundation course in environmental studies and is followed by core courses in environmental economics, ecology, chemistry or physics, geology or GIS, and mathematics. Students select a focus area to explore in depth. Current focus areas include conservation biology, marine science, environmental chemistry, and environmental geology. Many of these focus area courses have significant field components. Students can also propose well-structured alternative focus areas. The senior capstone seminar provides a hands-on approach to environmental science research. Students, acting as an environmental consulting firm, collaborate with the Maine Department of Environmental Protection and lake association members to investigate the impacts of land use patterns on a local lake chosen each year.
This major provides an introduction to environmental studies as a discipline as well as training in computational techniques used in environmental policy and science. Students begin with the foundation course in environmental studies followed by core courses in ecology and environmental economics. Additional courses in environmental studies, computer science, and a senior project enable students to become familiar with quantitative tools used to investigate environmental problems, especially GIS and remote sensing.
The ES minor may be elected by majors from other departments and consists of seven courses. After an introductory foundation course, students choose a two-course couplet from a selection in both the social and natural sciences and two courses from a selection complementing their area of interest.
Each year ES students take advantage of Colby’s January Program to explore field study courses, conduct independent or group research projects on or off campus, or undertake an internship with a scientist, company, nonprofit organization, or government agency. The ES Program provides a limited number of stipends to assist students in undertaking approved environmental studies internships.
ES students participate in study abroad programs all over the world. A list of approved programs is available through the Off-Campus Study Office. For more informa¬tion on ES study abroad opportunities see: www.colby.edu/academics_cs/acaddept/envstudies/opportunities/study-abroad.cfm.
We place great emphasis on integrating student research into the curriculum at every level — from the foundation course to senior capstones, and research opportunities exist in required and elective ES courses. Many ES students undertake independent study, honors, and senior scholar projects and participate in the annual Colby Undergraduate Research Symposium. Summer and academic-year research assistantships enable students to work with faculty on specific environmental research projects. The ES Program is affiliated with the Goldfarb Center for Public Affairs and Civic Engagement, an innovative initiative designed to engage students and faculty in projects in the local, state, national, and international communities (see www.colby.edu/goldfarbcenter).
Colby’s ES Coordinator and program faculty help students to match internship and research experience opportunities to their individual academic program. Stipends from the ES Program and the College are available. For more information see: www.colby.edu/academics_cs/acaddept/envstudies/opportunities/internship-resources.cfm.
Colby has active student environmental groups and an Environmental Advisory Group that advises President Adams on issues related to campus sustainability. Members of the Environmental Studies Program, both students and faculty, are active members of this committee and participate in many other Green Colby initiatives. For more information see: www.colby.edu/green.
The entire Mayflower Hill campus has been designated by the Maine legislature as a State Wildlife Management Area. The 128-acre Perkins Arboretum on campus has been established as a wildlife sanctuary. The College also owns the Colby-Marston Preserve in the Belgrade Lakes area, a 34–acre tract containing a kettle-hole bog, which has been classified as a Registered Natural Landmark by the U.S. Department of the Interior. Students have access to excellent, well-equipped laboratories and GIS facilities in the science complex and in the Diamond Building.
Major corporations, federal and state agencies, private and public organizations, educators, and consulting and legal firms employ our graduates. The ES curricula provide students with the necessary background to succeed at elite graduate programs; about 70% of ES majors eventually undertake graduate study.