Academics

The academic component of the COE comprises the Environmental Studies Linked Major and the Environmental Studies Certificate. The Certificate was established in 1998 and the Linked Major was established in 2009. Both of these options are open to students from all majors. Currently, students enrolled in these programs major in 19 different departments or programs. The 23 faculty members belong to 18 departments or programs. This diversity reflects the deep and widespread interest in environmental issues on the Wesleyan campus.

The Environmental Studies Linked Major

The “academic spine” of the COE is distinguished by its linked major concept: every student accepted as an environmental studies (ENVS) major must also have a primary major in another department. The reason for this linked structure is that environmental issues are inherently multidimensional. Ideally those who address these issues bring different expertise—acquired perspective, knowledge, and skill sets—to the table. Students in ENVS must write a senior thesis or essay on an environmental topic from the perspective of their primary major.

The linked major requires an introductory course, seven electives, a senior capstone experience, and a senior colloquium. The seven electives include one course from each of three core academic areas (arts and humanities, social sciences, and natural science and mathematics) and a four-course thematic concentration on environmental issues of the student’s choosing.The senior colloquium allows seniors to engage in lively discussion with faculty and other ENVS majors about their capstone projects.

Another innovative feature of the COE is its Collaborative Research Initiative, which is designed to encourage ENVS students with the most potential for undertaking environmental research. Sophomores and juniors who are accepted into this track will take a special colloquium emphasizing research skills and technique; students will be required to complete a semester-long research project. The goals of the Collaborative Research Initiative are threefold: 1) to prepare students for senior thesis work, 2) to recruit students with exceptional skill for participation in the COE Think Tank, and 3) to prepare students for research careers in environmental studies.

Environmental Studies Certificate

The Environmental Studies Certificate enables students to explore the Wesleyan Curriculum and achieve a first-level understanding of environmental issues by taking an introductory course and six electives, including at least one upper level course. Students can choose among a wide variety of courses but must sample courses from at least two academic divisions and from three academic departments. Three courses must also come from within a single department. This formula provides students with some breadth and a modest immersion within one area to complement their studies in their chosen major. The Certificate is the equivalent of a minor offered by many other universities.

Comparison of the ENVS linked-major program and the ENVS Certificate

The ENVS linked-major program requires a substantial amount of immersion and focused concentration in environmental studies compared to the Certificate. The purpose of the Certificate is to provide limited exposure and basic level of expertise in environmental studies. Many students use the certificates as a demonstration for employers in environmental fields that they have had a basic immersion. The following table lists the features of the linked major and the certificate:

 

Linked Major
Certificate
Introductory Course 1 1
Distribution of Electives Minimally 3 divisions, 3 departments Minimally 2 divisions, 3 departments
Number of Electives 7 6
Core Courses Required 3 0
4 Course Concentration yes no
# upper level courses required 2 1
Number of Courses from Primary Major allowed 3 Not restricted
Senior Capstone Project required none
Senior Colloquium required none