VIEWS: 5 PAGES: 2 POSTED ON: 10/23/2011
NEW ENVS DEGREE REQUIREMENTS – ENVIRONMENTAL STUDIES Concentrations The goal of the concentration requirement is to have our students develop an area of expertise within the broader field of Environmental Studies. The last few years have shown, however, that the way in which requirement was structured did not support students in meeting this goal. Specifically, under the current requirement: 1) Our experience has been that the breadth of courses available in the humanities, social sciences, and professional schools that touch on topics of environmental concern is so large that most students do not have the background or the familiarity with sub-disciplines of environmental studies to develop a well designed study plan; 2) many students choose courses that are not offered in the only semesters they have available to take them, which results in heavy use of the waiver/substitution system and diminishes any sense of curricular planning; and 3) students put in “filler courses” that they have taken to meet the requirement of 7 courses (21 credits) for a self-designed concentration. The revised concentration requirement being proposed makes two fundamental changes to this system: 1) it reduces the total number of credits in the concentration, and 2) it introduces more structure into the types of courses that may be taken to satisfy this requirement. For all students in the program, the concentration requirement is: a total of 15 credits in upper level courses. All concentrations prohibit inclusion of 100-level courses. Within each concentration area, students must take at least five courses, of which three must be at the 300-level. One course must be an ENVS course at the 300 level or higher to ensure environmental content. Proposed concentrations must be reviewed by the academic adviser, and submitted to the department chair no later than the second semester of the student’s sophomore year. At the same time, we have developed guidelines for typical concentrations, while still retaining the traditional “self-design” option, to improve student advising; this will help to assure that our students meet the primary goal of this requirement, to graduate with an area of expertise. In developing these guidelines, including sample courses, we sought advice from colleagues across the College on appropriate content and experiences and on which courses were offered on a regular enough basis to include. The faculty of the ENVS Steering Committee (representing six departments in the School of Humanities and Sciences), drawing on this input, defined a common core of learning outcomes and experiences for the concentration requirement, identified a few concentration areas as appropriate and feasible, and drew together collections of sample courses for each area. These “typical concentrations” are intended to guide students’ selection of upper-level coursework in such a way that they can develop expertise in an academic area of particular interest. These concentration areas are primarily advising tools; they are flexible collections of courses that together introduce coherence into a student’s upper-level interdisciplinary coursework. Sample Concentrations Students may choose a concentration that falls into one of the categories described below. On the department website, students can find a listing of suggested courses that provides more detail about how they might plan their concentrations. These course listings are developed in consultation with the departments that offer relevant courses. Because upper-level courses often have prerequisites, careful planning by the student is essential to making sure the requirements can be met. Students whose interests do not match any of the concentration options listed below, and who have demonstrated a sense of direction about their career path, may design their own concentration area with approval of their adviser (a special form is available for this purpose on the department website). All students must submit their proposed concentration to the Department Curriculum Committee for approval no later than the second semester of their sophomore year. Although the concentrations do not require a credit-bearing internship, students are encouraged to seek such opportunities either for credit or as summer employment. A list of applied experiences is also available on the department website. Health This concentration explores the relationship between human health and environmental change. Students select courses that address such topics as the relationship between environmental problems and human health; the role of public health in shaping environmental policy; and the relationship between diet (and therefore agriculture) and human health. Specific courses that are appropriate for this concentration may be found in the Departments of Environmental Studies and Sciences, Philosophy, Economics, Sociology, Speech Communication, and Health Promotion and Physical Education. Policy This concentration explores the fundamental importance of policy and politics on environmental issues and problems. Students select courses that address such topics as: the relationship between regulatory frameworks (including but not limited to laws) and environmental problems; the role of the state in shaping human behavior toward the environment; and the transnational nature of environmental regulation in the 21st century. Specific courses that are appropriate for this concentration may be found in the Departments of Environmental Studies and Sciences, Politics, Philosophy, Economics, and Sociology, as well as through the legal studies program in the Division of Interdisciplinary and International Studies. Communication This concentration explores the fundamental importance of communication in both framing and solving environmental issues and problems. Students select courses that address such topics as: the importance of good written and oral communication to solving environmental problems, as well as the role of the media in shaping human behavior toward the environment. Specific courses that are appropriate for this concentration may be found in the Departments of Environmental Studies and Sciences, Writing, Speech Communication, and Strategic Communication. Environmental and Outdoor Education This concentration explores the fundamental importance of education in both framing and solving environmental issues and problems. Students select courses that address such topics as: the role of education (both formal and informal) in shaping society and social values; the importance of education in the outdoors for identifying and solving environmental problems; and the role of education in forging environmental and recreational values. Specific courses that are appropriate for this concentration may be found in the Departments of Environmental Studies and Sciences, Education, Sociology, and Recreation and Leisure Studies. Anthropology This concentration explores the ways in which individual cultures interact with their natural environments. Students select courses that focus on particular geographic areas, including South Asia, Mesoamerica, North America, the southwest United States, and South America. Specific courses that are appropriate for this concentration may be found in the Departments of Environmental Studies and Sciences, Anthropology, and Sociology.
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