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New Department Prepares Students for Studies and Careers in Environmental Fields

Thursday, Aug. 4, 2011

Santa Clara University will welcome a new department this fall to strengthen the training students receive in environmental studies and sciences. SCU approved the creation of the Department of Environmental Studies and Sciences (ESS) in response to the growing need and interest in understanding and solving environmental problems. 

“The establishment of a new Department of Environmental Studies and Sciences demonstrates and deepens Santa Clara University’s commitment to fashioning a world that is just, humane, and sustainable,” says Michelle Marvier, the new chair for ESS.
 
When the university first offered environmental science and environmental studies as majors in 1999, only one student studied it. Today, 122 students are majoring in either environmental science or environmental studies and 20 more are minoring in environmental studies.
 
As a part of creating ESS, the university will also transform the environmental studies companion major into a stand-alone major, giving the university depth to offer a robust coursework that focuses on societal responses to environmental problems.
 
“In the past, students could major in environmental studies only in addition to some other primary major. Environmental studies is now recognized as a coherent and rigorous curriculum that includes environmental law, policy, and economics, as well as sustainable development,” says Marvier.
 
Students who study environmental studies can pursue careers that are involved in the social, political and economic dimensions of sustainability, and environmental change.
 
 “The changes will help attract new students to the university who are interested in majoring in environmental studies and sciences, which are fields that are rapidly growing,” says Leslie Gray, executive director of Environmental Studies Institute.
 
Santa Clara University’s Environmental Studies Institute will continue to operate as a separate entity and focus on outreach programs in the community such as AmeriCorps, sustainability across the curriculum, campus sustainability, healthy food systems, and urban gardening.