Environmental Studies

Major: Environmental Studies
Minor: Environmental Science
Related Major and Minor: 
Program Director: James B. Ferrari Professor of Biology
Academic Catalogue

Environmental studies is at the forefront of addressing issues that impact the future of our planet.  In the past 150 years, our society has developed new technologies leading to longer life spans, increased communication capacities, and increased yields in agriculture.  Unfortunately, the effects of these advances continue to be countered by the depletion of natural resources and changes in nutrient cycling, biological diversity, atmospheric composition, and climate.  Environmental studies is an interdisciplinary field that attempts to understand the diverse environmental changes in our world and address them to create a positive change. The goal of this curriculum is to prepare students for a career in a diverse spectrum of environmental employment positions ranging from research scientist to writer to educator to political lobbyist, while developing a conscientious concern for the world in which we live.  Environmental Science is offered as a minor. For information about specific courses offered, please see our Academic Catalogue.

Field Study
Students in the environmental studies major and environmental science minor have the opportunity to gain research and environmental education experience. As research assistants, students work closely with the faculty on environmentally relevant projects. Recent projects involve looking at lead (Pb) concentrations in turtle bones and water samples from Central Georgia. Other work involves evaluating the role of the trees on campus and in the Arboretum in carbon sequestration. There is also an active program of ecological restoration in the 104-acre Wesleyan Arboretum.

The Munroe Science Center, a dynamic new campus centerpiece, opened in August 2007. The new state-of-the-art science facility serves an increasing number of Wesleyan students enrolled and majoring in one or more fields of science while also addressing the great need throughout our state and nation for women who are skilled in medicine, scientific research, computer technology, and mathematics. Through its eleven teaching laboratories and nine research laboratories, the new facility encourages faculty/student collaboration on research projects, contains interactive laboratories for specific experimentation, and offers individualized instruction in an environmentally efficient and safe setting.

State-of-the-art laboratories include cell biology, ecology, physiology, immunology, and instrumental analysis labs as well as general biology, physics, and chemistry labs. While teaching laboratories serve as classrooms, a small seminar room and two technologically advanced classrooms also are used for instruction. Among its many specialty science spaces, the 42,000-square-foot facility includes an astronomy observation deck, a greenhouse, a vivarium, and a community learning center.

The environmental studies major provides students with a solid foundation in the multifaceted field of environmental studies. In addition, it is ideal for students planning to enter post-baccalaureate programs or careers that require a broad base of knowledge. Wesleyan alumnae are currently studying at the graduate level in science related areas, working in government and industry, and teaching high school or college science. Equipped with a strong liberal arts background, many graduates combine a science foundation with other unexpected academic disciplines and succeed in a wide array of professional pursuits. 

You’ll find recent Wesleyan graduates pursuing post baccalaureate degrees in environmental related fields at prestigious institutions across the world including Washington University, The University of Colorado, Clemson University, The University of Texas (Houston), Texas A&M, The University of Georgia, Northwestern University, Emory University, Vanderbilt University, Duke University, George Washington University, and University of California.

One recent graduate, Liza Sanden '99, is excelling in her professional field as an environmental scientist. Liza found her way from Macon, Georgia, to Anchorage, Alaska. Through her work as an environmental scientist, she's traveled from the Gulf of Mexico to the Arctic Ocean. "The environmental and natural disasters of recent past years - Gulf hurricanes and Alaskan North Slope oil spills - have kept me hopping with hazardous material cleanup and remediation. The 2006 dubious distinction was back to work in the almost sub-tropics in 90 degree heat to the Arctic at 70 degrees below zero. Otherwise, I love the endless days of summer and the snow and aurora of winter in Alaska," she said.


James FerrariJames B. Ferrari  Professor of Biology, Biology Department Chair and Wesleyan College Arboretum Director B.A. (Biology and Northern Studies) Middlebury College 1986; Ph.D. (Ecology) University of Minnesota 1993. My research interests include bird-plant interactions, seasonal patterns of bird diversity, leaf litter dispersal and effects of leaf decomposition on soil nitrogen cycling rates, and forest ecology. MSC 112 . jferrari@wesleyancollege.edu