"By its very nature, ecological literacy demands expansive, synthetic inquiry rather than narrow specialization – a searching for connections and wholes, rather than isolated parts.
The Environmental Studies Program centers on education in natural systems and processes of the Earth, and on the role of humans who both depend on and influence these systems and processes. The aim is to develop compassionate, informed, and responsible citizens who are prepared to offer constructive solutions to environmental problems, and to help heal relationships between people and nature.
The Program advances understanding across many disciplines, including the biological, physical, and social sciences and the humanities. Students use these insights to illuminate the interrelationships between human and non-human realms, meanwhile learning specific skills in critical thinking, in field and laboratory methods, and in oral and written communication. Faculty encourage students to develop a philosophical understanding of, and ethical stance regarding, human- nature interactions and relationships. Students develop the ability to apply their knowledge to “real-world” situations to prepare them for further education and meaningful employment.
Ecological literacy forms an essential part of the foundation of any Environmental Studies Competence – indeed, for all studies at Prescott College. It is the understanding of interrelatedness of all life – human and non-human – in multiple contexts: evolution, ecology, and thermodynamics, along with history, politics, and cultural perspectives. By its very nature, ecological literacy demands expansive, synthetic inquiry rather than narrow specialization – a searching for connections and wholes, rather than isolated parts. Ecology weaves together the earth and life sciences, providing vocabulary for studies of human society and human nature, as well as many of the concepts these studies address (or need to address).
Program courses offer only one way to develop ecological literacy. Through activities inside and outside of the classroom, and through direct experience with nature, informed by reading and interaction with others, students advance their literacy throughout their time at the College.
Environmental Studies Competences
The Program graduates students in the following nine emphasis areas, although students are welcome to pursue a broad course of study across the discipline or devise their own emphasis.
- Conservation Biology
- Earth Science
- Ecological Design
- Environmental Education
- Environmental Policy
- Human Ecology
- Marine Studies
- Natural History and Ecology (includes research-based field biology and field ecology as well as interpretation)
Bridging Environmental Studies with Other Program Areas
Students can consider formulating competences that bridge Environmental Studies with other realms of study. In some cases, formalized bridges already exist (Environmental Studies and Adventure Education); in others it is up to the student and the Individual Graduation Committee to develop a coherent, meaningful program. For example, students often bridge Environmental Studies and Cultural and Regional Studies (as in natural and cultural studies of a particular country or region) or Arts & Letters (for example, interpreting landscapes with art, photography, or writing).
Agroecology, a cross-disciplinary field emerging over the last ... Learn more >
This interdisciplinary field developed rapidly to respond to a ... Learn more >
Earth Science focuses on study of the physical aspects of the natural ... Learn more >
The Ecological Design curriculum integrates knowledge and skills ... Learn more >
Environmental Education encourages the discovery and ... Learn more >
Environmental Policy challenges students to create a broad, ... Learn more >
Student-Directed Competence Examples
Adventure Based Environmental Studies
Students venture into a variety of landscapes and gain knowledge to understand and interpret wilderness. They study natural history, ecology, geology, leadership methods, and counseling approaches, a variety of perspectives on the human relationship with nature.
Students investigate aspects of plant life, including physiological, evolutionary, systematic, and biological aspects of flora. They view information, conduct fieldwork, and share ideas Study includes biology, ecology, geology, mathematical modeling, and conservation biology development.
Environmental Education encourages the discovery and understanding of the Earth’s natural systems and the human role in those systems. Environmental educators strive to see, feel, and teach about the interrelationships among all living things. They have a solid comprehension of ecological concepts, and an understanding of environmental history and the ecological effects that humans have had on the Earth. Students pursuing this emphasis explore the literature and philosophy concerning the human–nature relationship.
Environmental educators acquire political and economic background in order to teach about relationships among local communities, technological society, and the global environment. They are able to teach and exemplify responsible, informed involvement in political and corporate decision-making. A foundation in the field of education with an understanding of learning theories, curriculum design, and experiential education provides them with the necessary knowledge and skills to develop their teaching and to demonstrate their competence.
Environmental education covers a broad spectrum of disciplines, requiring students to develop well-defined programs to meet their particular interests. Environmental educators must remember that before confronting people with the grim realities of environmental problems, it's best to provide them with opportunities to experience the joy and beauty of the natural world. Responsible stewardship occurs when people develop an appreciation for the complex and diverse life that inhabits the Earth.
Biodiversity, sustainability, and ecosystem management with a focus on preserving and conserving natural resources form the framework of this emphasis. within those parameters, students explore sustainable living techniques, applied methods of conservation management, organic agriculture, forestry management, ecology, evolution, ethnobotany, and ecological design.
Students explore relationships between humans and plants, studying ecology, life sciences, botany, ethnobiology, horticulture, cultural studies, and hydroponics. Traditional medicine and use of herbs may serve as a means of understanding sustainable, healthy alternatives to pharmaceutical and industrial medicine.
Through the study of living organisms - their structure, function, growth, evolution and distribution - students develop foundations in biology, ecology, conservation, natural history, statistics, evolution, climate, and environmental ethics to gain understanding of life, diversity, and relationships between organic entities.
Studies include field methodology, ecological theory, practical skills, conservation biology, wildlife management, geology, biology, taxonomy, biogeography, and statistics. The work takes place in habitats of relevant organisms, using the scientific method, hypotheses formation, experimental design, data collection, and analysis.
Students focus on issues concerning human relationships to land, resources, and wildlife and address the development of this partnership over time. Cultural studies, ecology, land management, conservation sciences, biology, and animal taxonomy are topics of exploration.
Students examine animal life, its origins, characteristics, life processes, behavior, evolution, and relationships with other organisms on the cellular level and in large populations. Studies cover ecology, natural history, and evolutionary biology and include field work.
Do what you are passionate about, take the time to figure out what gives you the most joy and satisfaction, and do work that is in line with what ... Learn more >
Josephine Arader, no doubt, took inspiration from her father Graham's devotion to the art of the natural world. ... Learn more >
Kelly Megan Stack Scholar, Dillon Metcalfe finished high school in2004 and decided to take a break to examine his interests in and ... Learn more >
Several years ago David and his siblings visited the Prescott College Kino Bay Center for Cultural and Ecological Studies on the Gulf Coast of ... Learn more >
Norman L. Traeger was awarded the Honorary Degree of Doctor of Humane Letters by Prescott College for his lifetime of philanthropic efforts ... Learn more >