Environmental Studies


Environmental Studies is an interdisciplinary subject that promotes an understanding of the Earth as a Complex System.

The Forest Online students in Peru.

We assist students in translating their passion for sustainability and the environment into reality. Environmental challenges are complex and multi-tiered and require critical thinking and inspired problem solving, both characteristics of a liberal arts philosophy. Our department helps prepare students who can address the questions and challenges for humanity’s long-term survival through the thorough pursuit of environmental knowledge.

McDaniel College participates in the American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment.

Lewis Recitation Hall and Lewis Hall of Science

Dr. Jason Scullion
Department Chair
(410) 857-2436

Enviromental Studies Online Catalog

Major & Courses

Environmental concerns are broad, therefore we have designed the Environmental Studies program to offer students a liberal arts experience that addresses a diversity of environmental issues, while providing detailed training in specific fields. After graduation, students may pursue graduate studies in a number of disciplines or follow career paths as policy analysts, environmental consultants, environmental health specialists, urban or regional planners, science educators, or naturalists.

Three program tracks include:

Students may elect to complete a minor in Environmental Studies too.


Assistant Professor and Department Chair Jason ScullionAssistant Professor and Department Chair Jason Scullion

(Ph.D., University of Washington), is a conservation scientist focused on the conservation of wilderness landscapes, particularly intact forests. His current research is focused on improving forest governance in protected areas and frontier landscapes and developing tools to improve landscape management. He teaches Environmental Management, Environmental Policy, Conservation Biology, and the Forest Online.

Dr. Elly EngleAssistant Professor Elly Engle

(Ph.D., The Pennsylvania State University),, is an environmental social scientist interested in the intersection of community food systems, sustainable rural development, and environmental justice. Her current research evaluates the roles of community gardening and organizational networks in supporting sustainable transition across the coal-impacted region of Central Appalachia. She teaches Sustainability; Food, People, & the Environment; and Sustainable Agriculture.

Liz PerkinVisiting Professor Liz Perkin

(Ph.D., Free University Berlin), is a river and riparian ecologist interested in how humans change the biodiversity, functioning, and evolutionary trajectories of the ecosystems they interact with. Her current research is focused on how artificial light at night might be changing the behavior and interactions in stream organisms, and how that might, in turn, affect the evolution of those organisms. She teaches Environmental Problem Solving and Aquatic Ecology.

Recent Publications:

Scullion, J. 2018. Why Protected Areas Fail. Insights from Adjacent Biosphere Reserves in Honduras and Nicaragua. Forthcoming in Biological Conservation.

Asbjornsen, H., Manson, R., Scullion, J., Holwerda, F., Muñoz-Villers, L., Alvarado-Barrientos, S., Geissert, D., Dawson, T., McDonnell, J., & L. Bruijnzeel. 2017. ecohydrological consequences: synergies and disconnection in the cloud forest zone of central Veracruz, Mexico." Ecology and Society 22, no. 2.

Engle, Elyzabeth W., Susannah H. Barsom, Lydia Vandenbergh, Glenn E. Sterner III, and Theodore R. Alter. 2017. “Developing a Framework for Sustainability Meta-Competencies.” International Journal of Higher Education and Sustainability 1(4):285-303.

Engle, Elyzabeth W. and Michele W. Halsell. 2017. “Mining Community Sustainability Certification Programs for Engaged Scholarship Opportunities.” Journal of Community Engagement and Higher Education 9(3):62-73.

Rhubart, Danielle Christine and Elyzabeth W. Engle. 2017. “The Environment & Health.” Pp. 299- 321 in Rural Poverty in the U.S., edited by A. Tickamyer, J. Sherman, and J. Warlick. New York, NY: Columbia University Press.

Scullion, J, Vogt, K. A., Winkler-Schor, S., Sienkiewicz, A., Peña, C., and Hajek, F. 2016. Designing conservation-development policies for the forest frontier. Sustainability Science, 11(2), 295-306.

Wilson, M. J., Ramey, T. L., Donaldson, M. R., Germain, R. R., & Perkin, E. K. (2016). Communicating science: Sending the right message to the right audience.

Perkin, E. K., Hölker, F., Tockner, K., & Richardson, J. S. (2014). Artificial light as a disturbance to light‐naïve streams. Freshwater biology, 59(11), 2235-2244.

Perkin, E. K., Hölker, F., Richardson, J. S., Sadler, J. P., Wolter, C., & Tockner, K. (2011). The influence of artificial light on stream and riparian ecosystems: questions, challenges, and perspectives. Ecosphere, 2(11), 1-16.


Each year graduating seniors in the Environmental Studies Department complete a capstone project focusing on their interests. Many students have investigated topics regarding ways McDaniel College can use alternative energy sources such as solar and wind power to become more sustainable. After graduation these students will be prepared to work as policy analysts, science researchers, environmental consultants, environmental health specialists, urban or regional planners, science educators, or naturalists. Our current graduates already serve in a variety of local, state, and federal agencies, educational institutions, as well as for-profit and not-for-profit organizations.

Student-Faculty Research

A sample of recent student-faculty research collaboration includes:

Student Professor Topic
Jeb Shingler Dr. Mona Becker E.Coli contamination of stream water in McDowell County, WV
Sabrina Beil Dr. Mona Becker Creation of a Native Plant Memory/Sensory Garden at Carroll Lutheran Village
Ashley Pritchard Dr. Mona Becker Chemical characterization of soil samples in a no-till field vs. a young forest
Blake Hodges Dr. Jason Scullion Study of forests and land-use in national parks in Mesoamerica
Beth Lang Dr. Jason Scullion Study of forests and land-use in national parks in Mesoamerica
Casey Kelehan Dr. Jason Scullion Analysis of tropical birds as indicators of forest integrity


McDaniel College’s location in the greater Washington-Baltimore region allows us to offer a number of valuable internship opportunities through government and consulting agencies. We also encourage students to take part in the institution’s Washington Partnership Internship Program. Additionally, there are many opportunities for students to take part in internationally based courses and internships, for example, the Field Studies Program, SIT and the Political Science Semester in Washington, D.C. (either through the American University or through George Washington University).

Research Projects

Thanks to a generous grant from the Margaret A Cargill Foundation exceptional students are provided the opportunity to conduct field research at exciting locations around the world. Past students have worked with the School for Field Studies, the Peruvian nonprofit ARCAmazon, and the School for International Training. Students are also afforded an opportunity to conduct research projects with both Dr. Becker and Dr. Scullion through McDaniel. Students frequently obtain internships, students have recently interned with the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center (SERC), the Stroud Water Research Center, the state of Delaware Park Service, and environmental consulting companies.

Study Abroad

Students have studied abroad with the School for Field Studies, the School for International Training, and Operation Wallacea to name a few. Some countries where our students have studied abroad include Peru, Ecuador, Costa Rica, South Africa, Indonesia, France, Germany, and the United Kingdom. In addition, several of our students have spent a semester in Budapest at McDaniel Europe.

Environmental Club

You might also be interested in joining the Environmental Action Club and/or belong to the Environmental Studies Honor Society. These two student groups often work together to organize activities such as tree plantings in local parks, Earth Day celebrations on campus, and Recyclemania — a nationwide recycling contest between college campuses.

Green Leaf National Honor Society

McDaniel also has a local chapter of the Green Leaf National Honor Society, established to recognize and reward the brightest students throughout the country who are studying some aspect of the natural environment as college undergraduates. Juniors with a 3.75 overall GPA and seniors with a 3.50 overall GPA may apply to the Green Leaf National Honor Society.