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About Colby's ES Program
Mission Statement: Environmental Studies Program
The Environmental Studies program offers a comprehensive education in environmental studies and prepares students to understand and respond to local, regional, and global environmental challenges from social science, natural science, and humanities perspectives. Our interdisciplinary curriculum encourages an understanding of the complexity and inter-relatedness of humans and nature. We strive to create a positive learning environment that nurtures independent thinking, creative problem solving, and effective communication skills. We do this through coursework, student and faculty research, civic engagement, internships, speakers, and study abroad experiences. Individuals from across campus complement the diverse expertise within the ES program, faculty and staff associated with the program believe that advancing environmental knowledge requires disciplinary, multidisciplinary, and interdisciplinary approaches. We are committed to leadership in solving complex environmental problems, and excellence in teaching, student advising, scholarship, service to the college, and to community outreach.
Environmental Studies Program Goals
To achieve this mission, the Environmental Studies program has established the following goals:
Environmental Studies Program Learning Outcomes
The Environmental Studies (ES) program at Colby is one of the oldest in the country. From understanding climate change to preventing biodiversity loss and unsustainable use of natural resources, environmental challenges are a national and international priority.
Our students and faculty are active locally, nationally, and internationally in studying and helping to solve these challenges. ES is one of the fastest growing programs at Colby and we offer a diverse interdisciplinary curriculum. Our gateway and senior capstone courses are national models. Books and articles authored by Colby faculty are used around the world. We have received major funding from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the National Science Foundation, and many other sources to support our initiatives. Colby was one of the first colleges in the nation to purchase 100% of its electricity from renewable energy sources, and we are committed to the goal of carbon neutrality. Our nationally-recognized program has won awards from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the State of Maine in recognition of our commitment to environmental sustainability as reflected in our innovative project-based curriculum and for enabling our students to engage with environmental challenges at Colby, in Maine, and around the world. Recent examples of 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.
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.
Maine's Environment and Field Research Opportunities
Maine is an ideal location to study the environment. With oceans, lakes, mountains, wetlands, and countless other habitats nearby. Many Environmental Studies courses at Colby have field components. For example, the capstone class for seniors in the Environmental Studies/Science major involves a research project which investigates water quality of a local lake and the impact of human activity in the watershed.
The three recently remodeled science buildings and the F.W. Olin Science Center have excellent teaching and research laboratories furnished with the necessary equipment to undertake sophisticated environmental investigations.
Colby students have access to state-of-the-art Geographic Information Systems (GIS) Laboratories. The laboratories have mapping tools that enable them to create sophisticated computerized maps, analyze complex spatial data, and produce professional-looking cartographic output.
The Diamond Building for social sciences and interdisciplinary studies is located at the southwest corner of Colby Green. The ES Program has dedicated office, teaching, and research space in this building.
Off-Campus Field Research Sites
Maine Lakes Resource Center
In July of 2011 the Maine Lakes Resource Center will open its doors in Belgrade Village, Maine. The center is a 3,500-square-foot resource center located on the stream in the heart of the village. Visitors to the site will see rain gardens, porous pavers, buffer plantings and other erosion-thwarting techniques on its grounds. Inside will be displays, a wet lab, offices for the collaborating conservation groups, a large public meeting hall with many displays and space for a variety of cultural and educational programs.