The courtyard of Lewis Hall - Home to Environmental Studies
Discovering how human societies affect the natural world and how the environment, in turn, affects our quality of life, is one of the most important learning experiences any student can have. At Redlands, however, understanding these relationships is not enough. Students in Environmental Studies learn how to preserve and repair these relationships in order to build a more sustainable society and a new “green” economy.
Environmental Studies is a field that crosses the boundaries of traditional disciplines, connecting the study of complex environmental systems with even more complex human social systems. Students at Redlands are encouraged to examine the relationship between humans and the natural environment from a variety of perspectives, drawn from the natural and earth sciences, social sciences and the arts and humanities. All environmental majors engage in a common core curriculum that includes study of living systems (e.g., ecology), earth science (e.g., physical geography, energy and climate), environmental values (e.g., environmental ethics, world views), spatial analysis (e.g., geographic information systems - GIS), impact assessment and problem solving (e.g., design studios and policy clinics), research methods (e.g., field study, statistics) and practical environmental learning and applications outside of the classroom (e.g., study abroad, May Term travel courses, internships).
Environmental Studies at Redlands is highly distinctive in four major ways:
- We have a dedicated full-time faculty (currently 6 individuals) who teach environmental courses, exclusively – we don’t depend on the “kindness of strangers” from other departments to offer the bulk of our environmental courses.
- We are interdisciplinary not only in what we teach but in the training and interests of the faculty who do the teaching – always promoting integrative thinking, with an eye toward sustainability as the organizing central concept.
- Our “teachers” include the building in which we are housed: a bold, LEED-certified, 21st century “earthsheltered” structure that combines labs, project rooms, indoor and outdoor classrooms, faculty offices, the Redlands Research Institute and a roof garden covered by native grasses, rock and plant materials from which students can peer down into a hidden courtyard that separates the offices, labs and classrooms.
- We offer multiple opportunities to study environmental conditions outside the classroom, both in the richly varied mountain, forest, city, desert and ocean environments within an hour’s drive from campus, and in the amazing variety of regions outside of California that we visit through our travel courses and environmental study abroad programs. In just the past year, students in Environmental Studies learned about wildlife conservation around campfires in Rwanda and Kenya. They studied environmental geology around small volcanoes, earthquake faults, and dams in southern California. They hiked through remote jungles and across nesting turtle beaches in Costa Rica. Others donned snorkeling and SCUBA gear to explore the coral reefs of Palau, Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, and the Turks & Caicos Islands. You get the picture. Our students know that the world is their classroom.
The program of study allows both specialization and integration across diverse subject areas and fields of concentration. Students have four major tracks from which to choose, as well as a self-designed concentration through the University’s Johnston Center and a minor in Environmental Studies.
Environmental Studies Chairperson