In "Greening the College Curriculum," conservation biologist David Ehrenfeld says, "We cannot ignore the urgent call for environmental literacy... This time, survival is the issue."
Penn State Altoona's environmental studies program provides a broadly based liberal arts background for the study of environmental issues. The program blends principles of the natural sciences with intellectual traditions of the humanities and the social sciences with an emphasis on problem-solving that will be applicable in any community.
The goal of environmental studies is ecological literacy. The idea is to develop an informed perspective on the natural world that can then in turn lead to purposeful action. It is the sort of major in which students can combine passion for their subject with a desire to change the world for the better - and at the same time to prepare themselves for a career.
UNDERSTAND OUR WORLD: As human population expands, our impact on the natural world increases. An understanding of the intricate relationship between humans and the natural environment is imperative for achieving a balance between resource use and conservation. The intellectual tradition of environmental studies brings students into contact with thinkers such as Charles Darwin, Henry David Thoreau, John Muir, Aldo Leopold, and Rachel Carson.
LEARN BY DOING: In addition to becoming familiar with the rich traditions of environmental writing, natural science, and natural history, our students will also learn by doing. Field work and internships are important components of the major. Outdoor experiences may include a walk through a campus stream, backpacking trips on the Appalachian Trail, whitewater rafting on the Youghiogheny River, or biodiversity sampling at a wetland or meadow on campus. Internships may include conducting a salamander count at a local nature reserve, volunteering for the Clearwater Conservancy or a local Sierra Club chapter, or working at an outdoor education center at an Appalachian Mountain Club lodge.
Contact:Dr. Ian S. Marshall
Professor of English
Arts and Humanities
Office: 128 Misciagna Family Center for Performing Arts