Environmental Studies Learning Outcomes

Learning Outcomes

All graduates will achieve the following learning outcomes: 
I.     Intellectual Flexibility - Students will possess the intellectual flexibility necessary to view environmental questions from multiple perspectives, prepared to alter their understanding as they learn new ways of understanding. 
II.    Problem Solving - Students will solve problems systematically, creatively, and reflexively, ready to assemble knowledge and formulate strategy. 
III.   Interdisciplinary - When encountering environmental problems students will assess necessary scientific concepts and data, consider likely social dynamics, and establish integral cultural contexts. 
IV.   Research - When faced with questions that lie beyond their current knowledge base, students will actively research data, concepts, histories, and narratives necessary for adequate consideration of the issue. 
V.    Communication - Students will communicate with precision, effective art, and 
         sound rhetoric in writing, in speech, and in digital media. 
VI.   Values - Reflecting upon their internalized values system, students will continue to evolve an individual vision of harmonious and sustainable interaction among humans as well as between humans and the rest of the natural world. 
VII. Knowledge – Students will have mastered foundational knowledge enabling them to make sound life decisions as well as enter a career in an environmental profession or graduate school. 
To deal with environmental issues one must understand not only scientific concepts, but also the social interactions by which humans behave and the cultural values that underlay behaviors. Therefore, our Environmental Studies and Environmental Science programs lead to learning outcomes involving many different disciplines, or ways of knowing. We have organized our more detailed learning outcomes according to the three traditional academic categories: social sciences, natural sciences, and the humanities. 

A. Social Sciences 

  1. Students will be able to articulate the basic structure, functions, and processes of key social systems affecting the environment. 
  2. Students will be able to apply specific models of social system processes derived from various social science theories to explain environmental issues (including current and past conditions), and to propose future solutions to environmental problems 
  3. Students will be able to identify, interpret, and apply basic measures (metrics and formulae) of social system variables to assess socio-environmental conditions. 
  4. Students will be able to articulate basic understanding of various social science theories/frameworks and how they apply to environmental issues. 
  5. Students will be able to explain how various paradigms or world views and their implicit and explicit assumptions and values shape the viewer’s perception of environmental problems and solutions. 
  6. Students will be able to explain how perceptions of environmental problems, the problems themselves, and the proposed solutions are shaped by their historical, geographical, social, political, economic, and cultural contexts.

  7. Students will be able to assess/weigh ethical considerations as a component of environmental decision-making and problem solving.

B. Natural Sciences 

  1. Students will understand key concepts in the life and physical sciences, and will apply them to environmental issues. 
  2. Students will understand and apply the scientific process, as well as appreciate both the potential and limitations of the process. 
  3. Students will be able to locate, evaluate and synthesize information from the scientific literature. 
  4. Students will analyze data using appropriate statistical methods, and will be able to evaluate the use of statistics by others in a variety of contexts. 
  5. Students will apply knowledge of the sciences within an interdisciplinary context in solving environmental issues such as environmental health, food and agriculture, energy, waste and pollution, climate change, population, resource management, and loss of biodiversity. 
  6. Students will carry out an applied research project in the natural sciences. 
  7. Students will be able to communicate science effectively through written work and oral presentations to a variety of audiences. 
  8. Students will apply the tools commonly used in field research, particularly in the study of plants, animals and soils; and will find their way on the landscape using map, compass and GPS technology, and use spatial analysis software such as GIS, Google Earth and Google Maps. 

C. Humanities 

  1. Students will articulate historical epochs and concepts relevant to the evolution of environmental consciousness and policy.  
  2. Students will analyze and evaluate ideological and philosophical approaches used to understand environmental relationships. 
  3. Students will be aware of and able to analyze the potential of literature and fine arts to communicate assumptions of value about human relations with the biosphere. 
  4. Students will articulate a coherent philosophy of the environment, & consider ethical bases for responding to environmental questions. 

 The 3rd and 4th year curriculum of the Environmental Studies/Science majors build on the core learning outcomes through a process of intensification, adding depth and sophistication to students’ learning of the concepts and skills specified above. For students majoring in Environmental Studies, the outcomes listed under “Social Sciences” and “Humanities” are emphasized, while the outcomes listed under “Natural Sciences” are emphasized for students majoring in Environmental Science.