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Environmental Studies

Learning Outcomes

The Environmental Studies Program at Lewis & Clark College provides resources and cultivates an atmosphere whereby students (a) appreciate the intellectual and practical complexities of environmental problems and solutions; (b) master key concepts and methods of environmental analysis drawn from, and integrating, a broad range of disciplines; and (c) fuse this background knowledge and analytical ability with leadership and communication skills to successfully devise and implement creative, academically grounded solutions to environmental problems.

These three broad objectives are served via the following learning goals that frame our curriculum and foreground the unique situated approach we take. Our curriculum equips students to understand and articulate the following, both to better analyze environmental problems and to craft fruitful solutions to them:

  • The relevance of a broad range of concepts and areas of knowledge.  Key areas of knowledge are covered in the discipline-specific breadth courses (e.g.,environmental economics, or basic ecology), while ENVS core courses help students make sense of how diverse approaches and content weave together.

  • How key actors and processes interrelate. To elucidate the forces underlying an environmental issue, we use concept mapping tools and a variety of conceptual frameworks (e.g., actor network theory, systems theory)  to diagram the important connections among major players.

  • Their multiple spatial, temporal, and conceptual scales. To what broader sets of considerations does the issue relate? How do the configurations of actors change at different scales? What other places manifest similar, or interestingly different, processes?

  • Their descriptive, explanatory, evaluative, and instrumental dimensions. We ask students to approach a situation by identifying what is going on; why it is happening; whether/how it is a problem (and for whom); and how it might be changed.

  • How to collect, analyze, and communicate results of relevant empirical data. Data might take the form of historical land survey maps, tweets, or ivy density surveys. They may be analyzed in a variety of ways—e.g., rhetorically, quantitatively, or spatially—and conveyed through maps, graphs, or written narratives.

  • Ultimately, how to contribute to and benefit from the larger scholarly community in addressing these issues. We place a strong emphasis on social learning and provide students with their own digital scholarship site to share the process and products of their work, e.g., through poster sessions, shared bibliographies of scholarly sources, and online research project updates. Shared resources often stimulate the next generation of projects.

Environmental Studies

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