Environmental Studies Department
The Environmental Studies Department in the College of Arts and Sciences provides students with an education that takes full advantage of Pacific University’s liberal arts curriculum. In this program, students and faculty have opportunities to pursue interests that span a wide range of disciplines. In addition to the three full-time faculty members in the department, Environmental Studies offers the expertise of faculty affiliated with the program who are based in the disciplines of biology, chemistry, political science, economics, history, art, sociology, anthropology, philosophy and literature. This results in a wide range of opportunities to investigate environmental problems that cross traditional boundaries.
Students in Environmental Studies can choose to apply their knowledge through research opportunities in unique nearby surroundings such as the coniferous forest of the John Blodgett Arboretum, the riparian corridors of Gales Creek and the Tualatin River, and the 750-acre Fernhill Wetlands. The Boxer Garden on Main Street is an on-campus learning and research space managed by the department. Regionally, there are many exemplary resources available within a one- to two-hour drive of campus such as the Willamette and Columbia Rivers, Tillamook and Willapa Bays, and the forests of the Coast and Cascade Ranges. The proximity of Pacific University to study sites both wild and human-influenced is one of the main strengths of the Environmental Studies program.
The Environmental Studies curriculum includes majors that lead to a Bachelor of Science (BS) or a Bachelor of Arts (BA) degree. Students pursuing a BS in Environmental Science can choose either a Biology or an Environmental Toxicology & Chemistry emphasis. Students pursuing a BA in Environmental Studies can choose to major in either Policy, Culture & Society (PCS) or in Applied Sustainability. Students in all tracks will gain knowledge about how ecological and physical earth systems work, how these systems are being affected by human activities, and how we can alter these patterns to produce more desirable outcomes. Students will learn to appreciate the services provided by natural systems and will understand how our social, economic, political, and legal systems are rapidly increasing stratification locally, regionally and globally. Students will develop the ability to think systematically and will “solve for pattern” by understanding the cause and effect of environmental and social relationships, and how initiatives to solve problems in one area will affect conditions in the other.
The Department of Environmental Studies is an interdisciplinary community of active scholars in the arts, humanities and natural and social sciences. We are dedicated to helping students and community members form a broad holistic understanding of the relationships between human and natural systems and give them the skills they need to identify and address the problems that exist within those relationships. This understanding is built on a foundation of valid, contextual knowledge informed by disciplinary study and experiential learning practices. Through faculty guidance and peer interaction, students gain an appreciation for the complexity of relationships between human, social and economic systems and natural ecosystems. Students in our program will learn to creatively apply both quantitative and qualitative methods to the complex environmental and social problems we currently face. Our innovative program produces broadly educated, highly skilled graduates who will become active and responsible citizens in the world community.