College Catalog: 2015-2016

School of Social Science and Human Services (SSHS): Environmental Studies (B.A.)

Four Year Plan

Website: School of Social Science and Human Services




About the Major

At Ramapo, we have pioneered an education in Sustainability and Environmental Studies, preparing more than 2,000 graduates to work for a sustainable future.  Our students emerge as leaders and sound decision makers.  As trans-disciplinary thinkers, able to draw upon the wisdom of many fields, they understand where we need to go and how to get there.

Following the distinctive pillars of Ramapo’s education mission, we promote an integrative interdisciplinary mode of learning, simultaneously local and global in focus, experiential in form, protecting and promoting social and ecological diversity.

Our Environmental Studies program–one of the first of its kind, and founded in 1974–was also a forerunner in making sustainability central to our approach to society’s interactions with planetary forces. Transcending siloed and narrow disciplinary thinking, we emphasize the interplay of sphere and society. After some preparatory foundational courses, students undertake core study of World Sustainability, Public Policy, Environmental History, Energy and Society, and Natural History and Field Ecology.

Students are urged to individualize their advanced study by selecting their own path through a wide array of upper level electives. These pathways include:

  • Place-based Community,
  • Education for Sustainability,
  • Policy, Ethics and Law,
  • Natural Resources and Parks,
  • Social Ecology,
  • Permaculture: Food, Water and Energy, and
  • Experiential Learning.

A capstone topical seminar hones academic research skills.  In a second experiential capstone an Environmental Assessment is undertaken of a real regional issue of significance.  Here students learn to collaborate, to organize, to do quality field research and to deliver professional quality work to actual clients.  The program generates learning that will translate directly to graduates’ future experiences.

Our graduates are prepared to move fluidly into the work world, often forging their own opportunities.  Many of our students elect to do advanced study through our own Masters in Sustainability Studies or elsewhere.   Our graduates have pioneered in such fields as hospital sustainability, solar design, environmental impact assessment, sustainable building, sustainability education, ecological landscaping, environmental law, local food, climate and energy policy, environmental engineering, sustainable land use planning and design, and local business development.

Our faculty is a mixture of established academics and experienced professionals.  We employ experiential learning throughout the curriculum to provide hands on, real world experiences.  All of our students engage in field learning through internship opportunities, Cooperative learning experiences, and/or Independent study.  We encourage our students to participate in study abroad programs, offering the option to spend a life changing semester in South India, as well as scores of other options.  Our faculty maintain strong links to global sustainability discourse by actively engaging with the United Nations.  Given the importance of local sustainable communities of place, we use as our local laboratory the beautiful Ramapo Mountain/Highlands region of New Jersey and New York, its diverse communities and its ecological and historical wealth.  We partner with the best local and regional organizations, including our neighbors, the Ramapough-Lenape nation, to promote the restoration and preservation of the region.  Our faculty are active environmental stewards, working for sustainable innovation.   And we offer seminars, workshops, lectures, MOOCS and conferences on a regular basis, bringing diverse models of sustainable practice and innovative thinkers from around the world to enrich our learning environment.  The result is a dynamic educational context, matching local and global. Few have been doing this longer than we have, and few do it as well.

Our current programs include the BA in Environmental Studies, a minor in Environmental Studies and the Masters in Sustainability Studies. For more information, contact Convener Michael R. Edelstein, Ph.D.  [aka  Mike] or arrange to stop by and attend events, classes and chat with faculty and students.

Outcomes for the Major

Goal 1: Students will be able to recognize and address both global and local issues of sustainability, based on an interdisciplinary understanding of environmental affairs.

Outcome 1:  Student work will reflect a clear grasp of the connected nature of global and local issues in community sustainability.

Goal 2: Students will demonstrate an integrative interdisciplinary perspective capable of synthesizing across the natural sciences, social sciences and economic perspectives.

Outcome 1: Student work will clearly reflect an understanding of Sustainability as a transdisciplinary concept that integrates the Environment, Ethics, and Economy.

Goal 3: Students will demonstrate the ability to integrate and synthesize interdisciplinary research while at the same time showing competence in written and spoken presentation.

Outcome 1: Students will pass a capstone experience on Environmental Assessment that incorporates a field research project.

Outcome 2: As a writing intensive course, incorporating a series of iterated writing assignments and multiple opportunities for formal oral presentation.

Goal 4: Students will develop collaborative skills, through community building, cooperative teamwork, and interaction with stakeholder processes that can lead to strategic involvement in real world sustainability decision making.

Outcome 1: Students will experience a capstone experience in Environmental Assessment where they conduct cooperative field research and prepare a collaborative project outcome, while engaging in reflective reading, writing and analysis based on collaborative team work.

Outcome 2: Students will develop collaborative decision making skills in strategic involvement in real world issues and interact extensively with stakeholder processes grounded in real world policy setting and decision making.

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.
  3. Writing Intensive Requirement (six courses):  three writing intensive courses in the general education curriculum are required: First Year Seminar, Critical Reading and Writing, and Readings in the Humanities; the other three courses are taken in the major.
  4. Not all courses are offered each semester.  Please check the current Schedule of Classes for semester course offerings.

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

Requirements of the Minor

  1. At least 1/2 of the courses fulfilling a minor must be distinct from the student’s major. That is, three of the five courses required for a minor cannot be used towards fulfillment of major requirements. A school core does not need to be completed for a minor. Minors are open to students regardless of school affiliation.