Development of Environmental Studies Major Boosts Sustainable Image


Environmental Studies has been a popular minor on campus which attracts students from a variety of majors. It seems that the Environmental Studies program will be gaining even more popularity in the coming years, as an Environmental Studies major was recently drafted and created here at St. Mary’s. This addition to the college’s academic catalog hopes to aid the school in fulfilling the value of “environmental stewardship” declared in SMCM’s mission statement.

Evan Kelley, SGA Vice President, sponsored the resolution to create an Environmental Studies major. He says “we [the SGA] vouched our support because we thought students would like to see an Environmental Studies major in the future.”

The SGA supported the creation of this major for three reasons, according to the SGA resolution. Firstly, Environmental Studies is a popular minor on campus. Additionally, the resolution states that prospective students “may be more interested in applying to St. Mary’s if the minor is expanded.” Lastly, this new major would be in agreement with St. Mary’s commitment to the environment and liberal arts.

And correct they were. Junior Meredith Davitt was talking to a prospective student about coming to St. Mary’s. He asked many question but truly “got excited when [she] told him that they were creating this major” says Davitt. With recent admissions issues, this new and attractive major will potentially encourage prospective students to apply to St. Mary’s.

So why now? Kelley says “there was a lot of support from faculty and from President Newbould.” The minor went under external review recently and expansion was encouraged. The current minor chair, Professor of Biology Bill Williams, and Professor of Economics Alan Dillingham, the Faculty Senate Chair, also show support of this major.

Requirements for the major have yet to be determined, but its creation is underway. The program should be fully established and running within a few semesters.

Karen Wood, a junior, was a little late on the creation of this new major, so she just made her own. Wood is an Environmental Education major. She says her unique major “loosely follows the environmental and education minors, but has additional courses in psychology,philosophy, TFMS, and English.” Like many SMCM students, Wood has always been passionate about the environment so when she “decided on St. Mary’s [she] was under the impression the school was big on environmental issues and would have a nice selection of classes.” With the minor, smaller selections of classes were offered than Wood expected. She says “designing the major was the best option for me because I was able to fuse my love for teaching with my love for the environment and create a program that allows me to follow what I am passionate about.”

That is what St. Mary’s is all about, finding and fulfilling a passion whether it be theater, physics, literature, nature, dance, or biology. Finally, future students who are passionate about the environment will be able to major in Environmental Studies.