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Director: Professor F. Russell Cole
From understanding climate change to preventing biodiversity loss to sustainable use of natural resources, environmental challenges have become a national and international priority. Our students and faculty are active locally, nationally, and internationally in studying and helping to solve these challenges. Colby was one of the first colleges in the nation to use 100-percent renewable-source electricity, and in 2008-09, for the second consecutive year, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recognized Colby for purchasing a greater percentage of green power (100 percent) than any other school in the New England Small College Athletic Conference. EPA and the state of Maine have recognized Colby for its commitment to environmental sustainability as reflected in our curriculum and our actions. Recent examples of student-led environmental initiatives include development of an organic garden, launching a bike borrowing program, and a College commitment to “Green Graduations.”
The Environmental Studies Program offers interdisciplinary majors in environmental policy and in environmental science as well as a minor in environmental studies that can be elected by majors in any discipline. Each 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. Our graduates are prepared to take leadership positions in businesses, nonprofits, consulting firms, educational institutions, and government agencies. Many of our students complete graduate work in environmental sciences/studies, ecology, urban/rural planning, natural resource conservation and management, law, environmental and public policy, and other related areas. A student may not elect both majors offered by the Environmental Studies Program.
Requirements for the Major in Environmental Policy
Requirements for the Major in Environmental Science
Honors in Environmental Studies
Environmental studies majors with a minimum cumulative grade point average of 3.50 at the end of the January term of the junior year or with special program approval are eligible to apply for the Environmental Studies Honors Research Program. Interested students should contact a faculty sponsor during the spring semester of the junior year to discuss a project. Before the end of spring registration, students should secure a faculty sponsor and a faculty reader for their research project. Students who are studying abroad in the spring should try to make initial contact with a potential sponsor in the spring via e-mail, but may complete their proposal in the fall at the beginning of the academic year. The student must then petition the program for permission to undertake honors work. With approval from the program, students can register for Environmental Studies 491. Students wishing to change their honors project topic must petition the program for approval of the new topic. Honors research projects will be a total of six to eight credits and will be conducted during the student’s last two academic semesters (and may include Jan Plan). Also, students enrolled in Environmental Studies 493 or Biology 493 may petition the program to expand their independent study for these courses into an honors project to be conducted in January and the spring semester.
Successful completion of the honors program will include an approved thesis, an oral presentation at the Colby Undergraduate Research Symposium, and a successful thesis defense as well as the completion of the required course work for the major. The student fulfilling these requirements will graduate “With Honors in Environmental Studies.” The decision whether or not the student will be approved to convert her or his seminar or independent study project to an honors project in the spring semester and continue in the Environmental Studies Honors Program by enrolling in Environmental Studies 484 will be made at the end of the first semester. In cases where requirements for honors have not been fulfilled at the end of the spring semester, Environmental Studies 484 (Honors Research) will revert to a graded Environmental Studies 492 (Independent Study).
The environmental studies minor is designed to introduce students to environmental issues and their ramifications in the context of the social and natural sciences. Course requirements provide flexibility, allowing students to study in areas of most interest to them.
Requirements for the Minor in Environmental Studies
Minors also are encouraged to have a “hands-on” environmental activity either of an experiential nature (internship, field experience, student teaching) or an academic nature (research paper or research lab). In many, if not most cases, at least one of these may be required by one of your courses and thus satisfied automatically.
No requirement for the minor may be taken satisfactory/unsatisfactory. AP credits in a subject cannot replace more than one course toward the minor.
Students with a major in biology, geology, or international studies considering a minor in environmental studies should consider electing a double major in biology and environmental studies, geology and environmental studies, or international studies and environmental studies because of the overlap in required courses. Interested students should discuss these possibilities with the Environmental Studies Program Director.
Also available are environmental science concentrations in biology and chemistry majors. These are discipline-based programs intended to prepare students for positions in firms or government agencies concerned with environmental issues, for graduate study, or for roles as educated citizens in a world increasingly confronted with environmental problems. Students are encouraged to participate in relevant field study or internships to complement their academic work. Requirements are listed in the appropriate departmental section.A student cannot elect both the environmental studies minor and an environmental science concentration. Also, students cannot elect both the biology: environmental science concentration or chemistry: environmental science concentration and the environmental studies: science concentration.