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A student studies plants while sitting in a field of grasses.

Environmental Studies - Environmental Biology

Discover the wonders of Environmental Biology at McDaniel College and gain a deeper understanding of the complex interactions between living organisms and their surroundings. Our curriculum explores the effects of human-driven and natural processes on these relationships, equipping students with the knowledge and skills to start their journey towards a rewarding career in Environmental Biology.

Degree Types
Major , Specialization
Complementary Programs
Distinctive Requirements
Research Facilities

Why McDaniel for your degree in Environmental Biology?

The Environmental Biology specialization introduces students to the relationship between living species and their ecosystems, as well as the impacts of human-driven and natural processes on these relationships and conditions.

In outdoor and indoor lab settings, you'll receive broad training to learn the scientific processes for understanding our natural world and solving pressing environmental issues. You'll also learn practical applications for your training in courses on natural resource management and conservation, agriculture and food systems, and environmental restoration.

Careers in Environmental Biology

Students who specialize in Environmental Biology can go onto have careers as:

  • Wildlife / Fisheries Specialist

  • Park Naturalist

  • Conservation Scientist or Technician

  • Natural Resource Manager

  • Public or Environmental Health Professional

  • Botanist

  • Ecologist

  • Environmental Educator

Two students in a lab look at a computer together.

Every summer, McDaniel students transform into ecologists, chemists, and pre-medical scientists while conducting research in the campus labs for the Student-Faculty Collaborative Summer Research Program.

Special Opportunities

Two students stand in a garden in front of plant trellises with plants growing on them.

Agrifood System Program

Get first-hand experience with agriculture in the Agrifood System Program. Student Food Fellows assist with growing produce in the campus greenhouse and the gardens at the McDaniel Environmental Center, and help distribute the produce among the community.

Two students studying in the STEM Center.

STEM Center

The McDaniel STEM Center provides academic support to any student enrolled in STEM courses, and the opportunity to become a peer tutor.

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.

Distinctive Courses

ENV 3106 - Conservation Biology

The mission of conservation biology is the conservation of life on earth, and thus to balance the needs of people and biodiversity. To understand the promise and peril of conservation biology’s mission in a rapidly globalizing world, the course introduces students to the elements of the contemporary biodiversity crisis, the applied practices of professional conservationists, and the values and scientific theories that provide the discipline’s foundation. Coursework is designed to develop practical skills and disciplinary knowledge through interactive lectures, field trips, and group and individual projects.

ENV 3114 - Wetland Ecology

Wetlands have been greatly maligned as wasted land and mosquito breeding grounds for centuries; however, these delicate environments have been shown to provide essential ecosystem services, including filtering of nutrients and sediments, bird and fish habitat, and attenuation of floods. Because of this, many environmental agencies and non-profit groups are working to restore wetlands. In Wetland Ecology, we will explore the characteristics and function of wetlands, what sorts of organisms live in wetlands, and how humans can improve their interactions with wetlands in both in the classroom and through field and laboratory experiences. We will develop an appreciation of these critical ecosystems.

ENV 3111 - Sustainable Agriculture

This course introduces students to the environmental, socio-political, and economic dimensions of agricultural production, particularly in the United States and  the Chesapeake Bay region. Drawing upon current social and biophysical scientific research, case studies, and guest speakers who are experts in the respective agriculture-related fields, course topics will include a survey of principles, techniques, and concepts that engage students with the material  dimensions and human experiences of food, fiber, and commodity production. The lab component of this course will tie together field trips and student research  to explore how sustainable agricultural practices have been embraced by local producers and regional college farms and gardens. Lessons will be applied  through student-led food production efforts at McDaniel College and creative science communication projects.

ENV 2121 - Exploration of the Environment

This course provides an intro to field exploration and field-based environmental science. Students will explore and study local mountains, rivers, and forests. The course will emphasize the role of exploration and field-based environmental science in continuously advancing our understanding of the natural world and how to manage the environment sustainably. Students should expect to get outside regularly, overcome adversity, and learn more about themselves, their home planet, and how to study and conserve the Earth's mountains, rivers, and forests.

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.

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 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.