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Four Year Plan

SSHS: Environmental Studies (B.A.)


Convener: Faculty:
Wayne Hayes Michael Edelstein
Henry Frundt

Howard Horowitz

Emma Rainforth (TAS)

Ashwani Vasishth
Eric M. Wiener (TAS)



About the Major

If we are to leave the legacy of a healthy and livable planet to future generations, a lot of work needs to be done.  The Environmental Studies program at Ramapo College is about preparing students to be leaders, educators and experts in the effort to create a sustainable world.  Bolstered recently by our new partnership with the renowned Meadowlands Environmental Educational Center and opening of our new state-of-the-art Sustainability Education Center, as we pass the half-way point in our fourth decade we are more certain than ever that our graduates will have a profound and positive effect on the world we live in.

Created in 1974, Ramapo's pioneer Environmental Studies major was forged in the spirit of the landmark National Environmental Policy Act to offer a systematic, interdisciplinary approach to education in order to thoroughly understand the profound impacts of human activity upon the environment and explore means for restoring and maintaining environmental quality and civic engagement.  We seek to prepare our students to be leaders in building an environmentally, economically, and socially sustainable society, one that justly balances the needs of people today with those of future generations and that promotes environmental justice and biodiversity.  Our focus is simultaneously global and local, with an emphasis upon hands-on participation.

The major builds upon foundational coursework in environmental and basic science, placed in historical, social, and policy context by our new gateway course World Sustainability and other core courses:  Environmental History, Public Policy, Natural History, Energy and Society and Geographic Information Systems.  Next we focus on four key elements of a sustainable society:  earth and resources, place and community, sustainable economics and ethics, and ecological practice (in sustainability planning, green building, renewable resources or sustainable agriculture).  The choice of courses provides students the opportunity to tailor their education according to their interests, reflecting the diverse pathways that an Environmental Studies major might follow to an eventual career, including the new Green Jobs movement.

Two challenging capstone courses further prepare students to assess environmental impact from natural science, social science, and policy perspectives, to work in groups, and to do advanced research and communicate clearly.  The experiences allow students to develop skills in communication, critical thinking, interdisciplinary synthesis, and group cooperation allowing our graduates considerable career flexibility.

The Environmental Studies program invites active participation.  Our students are placed into real world settings through hands-on project courses, Internships and such outstanding Co-Op Education opportunities as the Weiss Fellowship program based at the Audubon Ecology Center, and our undergraduate and post-baccalaureate teaching opportunities at our partner Meadowlands Environmental Education Center, cooperative study and employment opportunities in on-campus sustainability efforts and many diverse off-campus Co-Op opportunities.

This program makes ample use of our scenic location in the Ramapo Valley and majestic Highlands region, with its wealth of parklands and open spaces, as well as our proximity to New York City and urban centers.  We remain on the front line of some of the most important growth battles shaping our region, fertile opportunities for students learning.  Study Abroad plays a vital role in our program, as well.  Domestic programs take students to the forests and national parks of the American West.  A new program is opening in Venice, Italy and more are planned.  The gem of our global program is our unique semester abroad program at Fireflies Ashram in Bangalore, India.  These study abroad opportunities give our students a global experience and a multicultural perspective as they learn to bridge theory and real world application, the scientific and physical aspects of the natural world, and the human institutional and community settings that have transformed it.  For students unable to travel, we offer excellent regional field study opportunities as well.

Our program has been long recognized as an innovator.  We gave birth to the field of Social Ecology and offered pioneering programs on solar energy.  We were doing sustainability education before the word was coined and long ago organized our program around the concept.  We continue to be one of the few undergraduate programs using Environmental Assessment as a central methodology for integrating the field.  We anchored Ramapo's early effort to promote Ecological Literacy campus-wide.  And we gave birth to the New Jersey Higher Education Partnership for Sustainability.  We are a member of the Hudson River Environmental Consortium and other emerging partnerships.  We actively engage in public outreach and education.  We continue to define and lead the field.  We are particularly excited by the pending final approval of the College's new Masters of Arts in Sustainability Studies to be launched for Fall 2009.

Our program focuses on community education and service.  For example, the 2007 two-day event Green Meets Green celebrated the fact that the era of going green has finally arrived.  As part of the event, a one-day conference "A Climate for Change" brought together leading thinkers and regional actors to discuss how to quickly bring about the transformation to a sustainable society in order to address the Climate Crisis.  A two-day expo showcased the best green innovations and services for the regional public.  The event began with Ramapo President Peter Mercer's signing of the college President's Climate Challenge, witnessed by student activists who had gathered 800 student signatures on a petition calling for the action.  Characteristically, the event was a full collaboration between our faculty and our students, with students serving as central organizers and managers of the event and sharing the satisfaction of its success.

Many graduates earn advanced degrees, the diversity of which illustrates the program's breadth.  Similarly, while most graduates choose to work in environmental careers, those careers vary broadly, reflecting the general importance of  environment to all areas of human concern.  An increasing number of our graduates have become educators.  Many work in parks and open space preservation.  Some work in small businesses concerned with solar construction or green practices.  Some raise organic food and run farmers markets.  Our graduates go to law school and become environmental attorneys.  Some become energy conservation experts for utilities, heads of recycling programs or businesses, and project managers, environmental specialists and impact assessors for engineering firms working on pollution mitigation or infrastructure projects.  Our graduates also work for regulatory agencies, non-profit corporations, planning departments, environmental education centers, consulting firms, and corporations.  Students are instilled with a sense of community responsibility and are provided with the skills for lifelong contributions as citizens of the planet.

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 Sustainable Education Center has been designed to demonstrate the components of a sustainable community, including solar, wind, and other renewable forms of energy, recycling and composting, and ecological agriculture.  The faculty Institute for Environmental Studies and student groups such as the Environmental Alliance and One Step provide many other opportunities for collaboration on such projects as conferences, the annual Earth Week/Month celebration, and the movement to address Greenhouse Gas emissions, and promoting the sustainable management of the Ramapo campus.

The B.A. in Environmental Studies is offered through the School of Social Science and Human Services (SSHS).  Our students sometimes combine the major (or our minor program) with such programs as Sociology, Social Work, Psychology, Anthropology, Business Administration, Communications, Journalism, Law and Society, and International Studies.  Many of our students earn teacher certification while completing their Environmental Studies degree.

Requirements of the Major

  1. Transfer students who have 48 or more credits accepted at the time of transfer are waived from the courses marked with a [W] below.  Waivers only apply to General Education Requirements NOT School Core or Major Requirements.

  2. Double counting between General Education, School Core, and Major may be possible.  Check with your advisor to see if any apply.
Subject & Course # Title & Course Description
GENERAL EDUCATION REQUIREMENTS
INTD 101 [W] FIRST YEAR SEMINAR
ENGL 180 COLLEGE ENGLISH
AIID 201 [W] READINGS IN HUMANITIES
SELECT ONE GE-SCIENCE WITH EXPERIENTIAL COMPONENT CATEGORY
SELECT ONE GE-MATHEMATICS CATEGORY: MATH 101-121
SELECT ONE [W] GE-HISTORY CATEGORY: HIST 101-110
SELECT ONE GE-INTERCULTURAL NORTH AMERICA CATEGORY
SELECT ONE GE-INTERNATIONAL ISSUES CATEGORY
SELECT ONE [W] GE-TOPICS ARTS AND HUMANITIES CATEGORY
SCHOOL OF SOCIAL SCIENCE AND HUMAN SERVICES REQUIREMENTS
SOSC 101 SOCIAL ISSUES
SOSC 235 HISTORY OF SOCIAL THOUGHT
SELECT ONE Sustainability course from the following:
ENSC 325 BIOLOGICAL CONSERVATION
ENSC 327 ECOLOGICAL AGRICULTURE
ENST 207 PUBLIC POLICY
ENST 209 WORLD SUSTAINABILITY
ENST 215 ENVIRONMENTAL HISTORY
ENST 312 ECOLOGICAL ANTHROPOLOGY
ENST 313 APPROPRIATE TECHNOLOGY
ENST 335 ECOLOGY, SOCIETY, AND THE SACRED
ENST 338 SUSTAINABLE COMMUNITIES
ENST 390 TOPICS:
GEOG 303 WATER RESOURCES
GEOG 304 FOREST RESOURCES
PSYC 343 ENVIRONMENTAL PSYCHOLOGY
SOCI 235 COMPARATIVE DEVELOPMENT
SOCI 306 ENVIRONMENTAL SOCIOLOGY
SOCI 309 FOOD AND POPULATION
ENVIRONMENTAL STUDIES MAJOR REQUIREMENTS
ENSC 103 INTRODUCTION TO ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCE
Biology Requirement
BIOL 101 INTRODUCTION TO BIOLOGY or
BIOL 110 FUNDAMENTALS OF BIOLOGY I LECTURE/LAB
Earth Science Requirement (One of the following)
GEOL 101 INTRODUCTION TO GEOLOGY
GEOG 101 PHYSICAL GEOGRAPHY
GEOL 105 FUNDAMENTALS OF GEOLOGY LECTURE/LAB
  200/300 Level Core Requirements
ENST 209 WORLD SUSTAINABILITY
ENST 215 ENVIRONMENTAL HISTORY
ENST 223 ENERGY AND SOCIETY
ENST 234 NATURAL HISTORY AND APPLIED FIELD ECOLOGY
ENST 207 PUBLIC POLICY or
POLI 328 LAW AND POLITICS IN THE INTERNATIONAL ENVIRONMENT
ENST 314 GEOGRAPHIC INFORMATION SYSTEMS
  300/400 Level Elements of a Sustainable Society
  select one from each of the following categories:
  Earth Resources (one of the following or another approved science course)
GEOL 333 ENVIRONMENTAL GEOLOGY
GEOG 303 WATER RESOURCES
GEOG 304 FOREST RESOURCES or other approved science
Place and Communities (one of the following)
ENST 312 ECOLOGICAL ANTHROPOLOGY
ENST 335 ECOLOGY, SOCIETY AND THE SACRED
PSYC 343 ENVIRONMENTAL PSYCHOLOGY
  Sustainable Economics & Ethics (one of the following)
ENST 305 ECOLOGY ECONOMICS AND ETHICS
SOCI 306 ENVIRONMENTAL SOCIOLOGY
ENST 336 GLOBAL ETHICS
Ecological Practice (one of the following)
ENST 338 SUSTAINABLE COMMUNITIES
ENSC 327 ECOLOGICAL AGRICULTURE
ENST 313 APPROPRIATE TECHNOLOGY
  Field Placement Requirement (one of the following)
ENST 331 ENVIRONMENTAL INTERNSHIP
ENST 388 CO-OP ENVIRONMENTAL STUDIES
Field Studies / Study Abroad
Study Abroad (South India, American West,
  American Southwest) OR a
FIeld Studies course (Geology of New Jersey, the Meadowlands Ecosystems, etc)
ENST 390 Topics in Environmental Studies OR an approved elective (not used for another environmental studies requirement)
400 level Requirements
ENST 410 ENVIRONMENTAL SEMINAR
ENST 414 ENVIRONMENTAL ASSESSMENT LECTURE/LAB

Note: A 2.0 GPA in the major is required for graduation.

Requirements of the Minor


Subject & Course # Title & Course Description

Required Courses:

ENST 209 WORLD SUSTAINABILITY
SELECT ONE 200/300 Additional ES core course
SELECT TWO 300/400 Level Courses chosen with Environmental Studies Advisor

SELECT ONE

400 Level Capstone Requirement:
ENST 410 ENVIRONMENTAL SEMINAR
ENST 414 ENVIRONMENTAL ASSESSMENT LECTURE/LAB


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