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Mission Statement:

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.

More Details about the Environmental Studies Program

Environmental Studies Program Goals

To achieve this mission, the Environmental Studies program has established the following goals:

  • Introduce students to important challenges, ideas, people and events in environmental studies;
  • Provide a coherent academic pathway that guides and nurtures student learning through introductory, intermediate, advanced and capstones experiences and prepare students for post-graduate study and careers related to environmental studies;
  • Introduce students to methods and technologies that enhance their ability to learn about and study interdisciplinary environmental problems and solutions;
  • Enhance effective communication (written, oral and visual) skills and student leadership abilities;
  • Provide opportunities for students to engage in independent and collaborative scholarship and to showcase student research on and off campus through research symposia, publications, and electronic media;
  • Facilitate or offer relevant and challenging off-campus opportunities and encourage students to integrate these experiences into their academic programs;
  • Serve as a catalyst for fostering individual responsibility and change on campus, at local, regional, national and international levels through our teaching, scholarship and outreach about the environment and sustainability;
  • Nurture and assist student environmental organizations and support co-curricular sustainability initiatives on and off campus;
  • and encourage an active alumni community that supports and advises the Program and our students.

Environmental Studies Program Learning Outcomes

To achieve the mission and goals of the Environmental Studies program, faculty provide a coherent academic pathway that facilitates and nurtures student learning through introductory, intermediate, advanced and capstone courses and prepares students for post-graduate study and careers related to environmental studies. 

Students will:

  • Recognize, explore, and evaluate important challenges, ideas, people and events in environmental studies;
  • Master methods and technologies that enhance their ability to learn about and study interdisciplinary environmental problems and solutions (e.g., research design, enhance critical thinking, quantitative analysis, software tools such as statistics and GIS);
  • Demonstrate effective communication (written, oral and visual) skills and student leadership abilities; Engage in independent and collaborative scholarship and have opportunities to showcase their research on and off campus through research symposia, publications, and electronic media;
  • Participate in challenging on- and off-campus opportunities and integrate these experiences into their academic programs;
  • and Learn how to exercise individual responsibility and facilitate change on campus, and at local, regional, national and international levels through their coursework, scholarship and service on issues pertaining to the environment and sustainability.

Environmental Studies Program Background

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.

A view of the Bigelow Mountain Range

Campus Facilities

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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.

Colby_College_Diamond_Building_Entrance

 

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.


Perkins Arboretum

The entire 714-acre Colby campus is a State Wildlife Management Area. Colby’s Perkins Arboretum on the east side of the campus is a 128-acre wildlife refuge used as an outdoor laboratory and also has cross-country running and ski trails.

Off-Campus Field Research Sites

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Colby-Marston Preserve
The Colby-Marston Preserve is a 34-acre classic kettle-hole sphagnum bog located 20 minutes from campus. Biology, geology, and ecology classes use the bog, which is a National Park Service Registered National Natural Landmark, for field teaching and research.

Colby-Hume Center
The Colby-Hume Center is a 10-acre parcel of land with 450 feet of lakefront, located seven miles from the campus on Messalonskee Lake. There are boathouses and docks used for studies of the lake environment.

Maine Lakes Resource Center

MLRC1In 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.

 

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