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Catalog 2002-2003
Environmental Studies (BA)
School of Theoretical and Applied Science

Requirements of the Major
Requirements of the Minor

Convener: Wayne Hayes
Advisors: Michael Edelstein
Henry Frundt
Howard Horowitz
Patricia Hunt-Perry
William Makofske
Trent Schroyer

About the Major

Created in 1974, Ramapo’s pioneer Environmental Studies major was created in the spirit of the landmark National Environmental Policy Act and has matured around the theme of environmental sustainability, a college-wide commitment reflected in the Ramapo College Mission Statement. Accordingly, the major offers a systematic, interdisciplinary approach to education, insuring the integrated use of the natural and social sciences and the environmental design arts to understand the profound impacts of human activity upon the interrelations of all components of the natural environment and the critical importance of restoring and maintaining environmental quality. Our focus is simultaneously global and local, our approach heavily experiential and participatory. We seek to prepare our students to be leaders in forging an environmentally, economically, and socially sustainable society, one that balances the needs of people today with those of future generations and of a diverse biota.

The Environmental Studies major builds upon foundational coursework in environmental studies and the basic sciences, placed in an historical, social, and policy context through our core program, and then focused on key elements of a sustainable society: earth and resources, place and communities, sustainable economics, and ecological practice. Elective courses allow the student to tailor their education within one of multiple "pathways" through the major, reflecting combinations of courses that help prepare the student for specific career goals, such as environmental policy, education, environmental enterprise, community leadership, and environmental communication. The pathway preparation culminates in an appropriate field placement in a real world setting. Field placement and hands-on courses teach students how to bridge theory into real world application, both the scientific and physical aspects of the natural world and the human institutional and community settings that have transformed it. Two challenging capstone courses further prepare students to assess environmental impact from a scientific, social science, and policy perspective and to do advanced research and communication.

This balance of required courses and tailored alternatives allows students to exert choice within a structure that guides their preparation for the diverse field of environmental studies. The emphasis upon communication skills, critical thinking, interdisciplinary synthesis, and group cooperation allows graduates to move in many directions as interest and opportunity emerge. Many graduates earn advanced degrees, the diversity of which illustrates the program’s breath. Similarly, while most graduates choose to work in environmental careers, those careers are varied, ranging from work in small businesses concerned with solar construction, in utilities working on energy conservation, on small farms producing organic produce, to communities running recycling programs, in engineering firms working on pollution mitigation, and so on. Graduates work for regulatory agencies, non-profit corporations, planning departments, environmental education centers, consulting firms, and corporations. Many become teachers, park rangers, and environmental specialists. Students are instilled with a sense of community responsibility and are provided with the skills to contribute as citizens.

The program offers the opportunity for close faculty-student relationships through advisement, independent study, small classes, and student organizations. A unique, cutting-edge, hands-on learning site, the Ramapo College Sustainability Center has been developed to demonstrate the components of a sustainable community, including solar, wind, and other renewable forms of energy, recycling and composting, and ecological agriculture. The Center has resulted from long-term community action, having originally been built by students and faculty in 1974. Through the faculty’s Institute for Environmental Studies and the student’s Environmental Alliance, many other opportunities for collaboration occur, including work on yearly conferences, and the annual Earth Day celebration, as well as promoting the ecological management of the Ramapo campus.

Study abroad and travel programs augment on-campus work, including the study of tropical ecosystems in Costa Rica and national parks and forests in the American west and southwest. Cooperative assignments offer the opportunity for paid work on assignment to local or global placements. Illustrative of scholarship opportunities is the Weiss Fellowship, based at the Audubon Ecology Center.

Two schools offer the major: The School of Theoretical and Applied Science (TAS) and the School of Social Science and Human Services (SSHS). The major leads to a B.A. degree. The major or the alternative minor both complement other areas of study, ranging from Social Work, Psychology, Anthropology, to Business Administration, Communications, Law and Society, and International Studies. A unique program additionally links the major to the social science secondary and elementary teacher certification program at Ramapo, so students can earn a teaching certification while completing their Environmental Studies degree.
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