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Jackie Fahrenholz in Indonesia for student research.

Environmental Studies

As the political debate over climate change rages, the need for highly trained environmental specialists has never been more urgent. And thanks to McDaniel’s multiple tracks, you’ll be equipped to fight this battle on many fronts.

Degree Types
Major , Minor
Complementary Programs
Distinctive Requirements
Spaces for Research

Environmental Studies at McDaniel College prepare you to become a leader, entrepreneur, and environmental professional. You’ll graduate with the knowledge and skills needed to solve environmental challenges and create a better world. Students in Environmental Studies explore contemporary environmental issues and develop professional competencies through innovative courses based on experiential learning, the scientific method, and understanding different perspectives.

Future Career Paths

Environmental Studies students will be well prepared for graduate study and to pursue careers as:

  • Policy analysts
  • Science researchers
  • Environmental consultants
  • Environmental health specialists
  • Urban or regional planners
  • Science educators
  • Naturalists

Distinctive Courses

ENV 1131 - Environmental Problem Solving

This course is the introductory course for environmental science. An interdisciplinary study of environmental problems that considers world populations, energy, air and water pollution, sustainable agriculture, biodiversity and environmental health. Class discussion will center on solutions including technical and human behavioral modifications that can lead to the sustainable use of our environment.

ENV 2151 - Sustainability

Sustainability in its simplest form is the continuation of a process. When proposed for human and natural systems, sustainability aims to meet the needs of the present while considering the needs of the future. To achieve this vision sustainability requires navigating many of the social and environmental challenges faced in our contemporary era. Within this course we will explore these challenges alongside the myriad of opportunities available to develop new solutions and scale-up those solutions already available. To achieve these course goals, this class combines interactive lectures, discussions, and individual and team-based assignments that examine sustainability globally, locally, and personally.

ENV 2204 - Society and Natural Resources

This course will introduce students to the human dimensions of natural resource problems, including a variety of theories and concepts used in the multidisciplinary field of environmental studies to better understand the intersections of biophysical processes and socio-political systems. After taking this course, students should be further prepared to engage in debates with other academics, politicians, and citizens regarding environmental issues and to take effective action towards addressing the multiple drivers and outcomes of complex natural resource problems.

ENV 2215 - Environmental Policy

This course is designed as a survey of the principles and practices of environmental policy. Using the case study approach, theories of public policy are linked to its application to understand existing approaches to environmental policy and how these approaches influence, and are influenced by, social and environmental change. An emphasis is placed on the design and evaluation of policy instruments, the diversity and trade-offs of environmental governance systems, and the democratic engagement required to achieve environmental sustainability. Students will learn the language of public policy and develop transferable professional skills, including memo writing and policy analysis.

Special Opportunities

There are three tracks to choose from in Environmental Studies. Our core courses cover a range of environmental issues, but choosing a specialized track provides detailed training in specific fields. 

Environmental Studies — Policy and Management Specialization

For students who want to understand the relationship between policy and the environment.

Environmental Studies — Biology Specialization

For students who want to better understand the biological science of the environment.

Environmental Studies — Earth System Science Specialization

For students who want to understand how complex systems interact to affect various aspects of life on our planet.

The McDaniel Commitment in Action

The McDaniel Commitment—a series of opportunities guaranteed to all students—provides enhanced mentoring and coaching, and ensures every undergraduate student completes at least two meaningful experiential learning opportunities.

Experiential Learning

Jason Swartz at his Smithsonian internship

Environmental Studies students immerse in Smithsonian research Making a Difference

Senior Lizzie DeRycke and junior Jason Swartz landed highly selective Smithsonian Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) and the two Environmental Studies majors spent their summers working on leading-edge research with scientists as their mentors.

Jackie Fahrenholz (left) and Kathryn Dixon during their Jan Term study trip to the Bahamas

Environmental Studies major immerses in real-life experiences around the globe Developing Skills

The Hill has become a home base of sorts for Jackie Fahrenholz's adventures in experiential learning. Nature is the McDaniel senior’s classroom in remote locations all over the world.

Beth Lang, Environmental Studies and Biology Major Senior Capstone

Environmental Studies and Biology major Beth Lang talks about her senior capstone — her study on restoring the ecosystem on the Singleton Matthews Farm as the culmination of her Environmental Studies and Biology training at McDaniel.

Environmental Management students at MEC

With you and the Hill, our world can become: McDaniel Environmental Center Greener | More sustainable | A better place for all

The McDaniel Environmental Center supports the college’s mission and has become a student-powered hub for collaborative and experiential learning opportunities. Since McDaniel College acquired the property in the late 1980s, it has transformed into a creative space for our Environmental Studies students to make an impact from removing invasive species and planting native species to growing food that goes straight to those in need. 

In addition to Environmental Studies students, hundreds of McDaniel students have gained firsthand experience at the center through Biology, Ecology, Environmental Management, and Sustainable Agriculture courses over the last four years. 

Erik Yanisko '19 majored in Environmental Studies

Meet Our Students Class of 2019: Erik Yanisko Get to Know a Green Terror

Erik Yanisko went to the Peruvian Amazon as part of a Jan Term study abroad trip titled, “The Forest Online” with a group of 15 students who ventured deep into the Amazon to create a multimedia research project consisting of interviews with indigenous people who have communities in the region, and researchers who are living there doing various projects.

Recent News for Environmental Studies