School navigation

Environmental Studies

The Program

Lewis & Clark’s Environmental Studies Program was founded in 1997 by Professor Evan T. Williams. Evan championed a “tripod” approach, drawing upon the natural sciences, social sciences, and humanities to fully inform our understanding of environmental issues, and he was active in a number of local and larger causes. Sadly, Evan fell victim to cancer a few years after founding the program, but his legacy of intellectual diversity and making a difference lives on. In his honor, Lewis & Clark College commemorated Evan’s life and work with the Evan T. Williams Memorial Tree Walk in 2005.

Environmental Studies now has three dedicated faculty appointments: Jim Proctor, geographer and current Program Director; Liz Safran, geologist and Program Director from 2011-2014; and Jessica Kleiss, oceanographer. Environmental Studies also involves a range of participating faculty specializing in biology, chemistry, economics, history, international affairs, philosophy, sociology, and other fields.

Environmental studies at Lewis & Clark has achieved distinction relative to other environmental programs in the U.S. via three innovative features:

  1. We take the global reach of our campus seriously, bringing international environmental issues and field research opportunities into our core curriculum.

  2. We take digital technologies seriously as well, with students mastering skills such as GIS, mobile device field research, and website authoring.

  3. We emphasize cutting-edge scholarship on environmental issues, which have grown in scope and complexity over the years and often demand new approaches and fresh thinking.

These three features are brought together in our situated interdisciplinary approach to environmental problems and solutions. By situating an environmental issue, its many dimensions are brought together for analysis in specific geographical contexts. Our situated approach has led to several large awards that provide ongoing support to our students and faculty via a variety of related special initiatives. In collaboration with the Career Development office, we also provide opportunities for students to build professional skills in applying these distinctive features of the Environmental Studies Program to a wide range of internships and work opportunities, in the Portland area and beyond.