Learning about the environment offers opportunities to integrate studies of nature and natural systems with those of human systems, and to bring both into dialogue with a humanistic understanding of ideas and values. Environmental studies also offer tools and knowledge with which to respond to many of the greatest challenges facing humanity in the coming century. We live in an increasingly endangered and altered world: plants and animals are driven to extinction; ecosystems are threatened; the climate is changing; and human communities live with the realities of overpopulation, pollution and the loss of clean water. The study of the environment is a response to these global challenges.
Why Study Environmental Studies at PLU?
At PLU, the Environmental Studies Program invites students to explore connections, to understand causes and consequences of environmental problems, and to train for possible careers in a wide variety of environmental fields. Specifically, we educate to engage actively and critically the complex relationships between people and the environment, drawing upon integrated and interdisciplinary perspectives. Those graduating with a major in Environmental Studies will be able to contribute to the wider community by:
- Using an array of theoretical and practical tools to examine the complex relationships between people and the environment;
- Gathering, assessing, and acting on data about local, regional, and global environmental issues;
- Critically interpreting the values and assumptions that structure human communities and their relationships with the earth’s ecosystem; and
- Integrating the methods and content of various academic perspectives to develop approaches to complex environmental challenges.
The Pacific Northwest is ideal for the study of the environment. It is a region striving to balance the pressures of population growth with the preservation and restoration of the natural environment. Many PLU students study abroad and therefore have the opportunity to explore global, as well as local and regional, issues in a theoretical and applied fashion with community experts who are actively involved in dealing with environmental issues.
Careers for Environmental Studies Majors
The Environmental Studies Program prepares students for graduate school and for employment in laboratories, consulting firms, environmental and regulatory affairs offices in corporations and government, and non-profit organizations that focus on environmental concerns.
The Program of Study
The Program, in keeping with the broad liberal arts objectives of the university, offers a major and a minor in Environmental Studies. Students have the opportunity to link environmental themes to any area of the curriculum they select in their complementary major or minor. For example, those with an interest in Biology, Chemistry or Geosciences can, therefore, tailor a program of environmental science; others can focus their attention on the environment in the social sciences, humanities, or arts. It is also possible to combine professional programs with Environmental Studies. All students develop grounding in science, an understanding of institutional processes, an appreciation of values, beauty, and holistic thinking, and a solid foundation in various methodologies and skills.