TACOMA – Students at University of Puget Sound now have access to a new interdisciplinary major, Environmental Policy and Decision Making, with enrollment starting fall 2016. The new major meets the demand from incoming students for degree qualifications in the rapidly-expanding field of sustainability and civic engagement.
The eight-unit major will be taken in conjunction with a major in another field of study, ensuring graduates are trained deeply to meet the rising global demand for multiskilled professionals who can work within the many fields where environmental concerns apply.
Students also will complete an experiential learning requirement to give them hands-on instruction. This might include study aboard, a field school in conservation development, a summer research project, an environmentally related internship, or enrollment in the Southwest Semester or Food Systems Northwest course, which combine travel in the United States with intensive study using primary sources, such as farmers, ranchers, food manufacturers, archeologists, park rangers, and solar, coal, and wind power experts.
“The study of the environment has moved far beyond the old themes of decades ago when people might think only of recycling, energy conservation, and endangered species,” said Dan Sherman, director of the Environmental Policy and Decision-Making Program. “Environmental policy studies today provide a means of examining the relationship between our planet’s environmental limits and the human values, decisions, and actions that shape our future. With this major program we aim to put graduates on a path where they can combine environmental know-how with a familiarity with the various actors in the social, political, and economic realms where the important decisions about humanity’s future are made.”
The major will include four courses covering environmental science, policy, topics, and tools, and numerous electives such as Water Policy, Climate Change, Thinking about Biodiversity, Geological and Environmental Catastrophes, Applied Environmental Politics and Agenda Setting, Environmental Legacies of War, and Global Environmental Politics. For more details, see the link below.
Environmental issues for study will range from those related to animals and their habitats to concerns about the social and human health problems associated with population density and industrialization. Students will look at the contests among competing human values and visions for the future, and will use an interdisciplinary approach to discuss current and projected environmental problems.
Puget Sound offers students a rich environment in which to pursue an interest in environmental policy and sustainability. The national, residential liberal arts college is founder of the Sound Policy Institute, which leads educational programs for students and local citizens; professors within the major enlist students in topical local and overseas research; Puget Sound faculty members offer workshops within the Northwest 5 Consortium of peer colleges; the Sustainability Advisory Committee overseas “green” practices on campus; staff and faculty take lead roles in the Curriculum for the Bioregion statewide initiative; and the school’s Summer Research Program offers numerous scholarships for independent study in the sciences, arts, humanities, and social sciences.
The tenor of the new major reflects key aspects of Puget Sound’s mission, including developing students’ capacities for critical analysis and sound judgment, building a rich knowledge of self and others, and expanding their appreciation of commonality and difference.
The development of the Environmental Policy and Decision Making major was supported by a grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.