What is distinctive about an Environmental Studies major at Illinois College?
The Environmental Studies program at Illinois College is a highly interdisciplinary major that integrates courses in the humanities, life sciences, physical sciences, and social sciences. Faculty members from the biology, chemistry, physics, economics, English, international studies, political science, psychology, and sociology departments participate in the program.
There are several unique features of the environmental studies program. First, through interdisciplinary curriculum students are exposed to environmental issues, and there potential solutions, from many different perspectives. These include, but are not limited to, the science of recognition and remediation of environmental problems, the social issues associated with adverse environmental conditions, and communicating environmental concerns through different mediums and cultures. Illinois College is located near important field research areas, and through field courses, students travel off campus to investigate different ecosystems, hydrologic settings, and sites of environmental interest.
What opportunities are available for students?
OASIS (Outdoor Adventure Club) promotes an adventurous spirit, sponsors outdoor activities including hiking, kayaking, bicycling, etc., and provides outdoor education.
Trip Courses: Several Environmental Studies courses give opportunities for students to experience different cultures, environments, and ideas through short-term, experiential learning trips. Each trip has a topical focus and is led by a team of faculty members representing academic disciplines related to the trip’s theme. Examples of Environmental Studies trips include those to the Florida Everglades, Florida Keys, Northern Michigan, Canada, the Colorado Rocky Mountains, and Costa Rica.
The Illinois College Environmentalists (ICE) is a student group dedicated to increasing awareness of environmental issues both at Illinois College and the surrounding community. Students participate in river clean ups, advise the college on recycling and other environmental initiatives, and try to educate the public about environmental problems and solutions.
Independent Research: All Environmental Studies students are required to complete either an internship or an independent research project. Students participating in independent research may present their work at professional meetings. Past students have completed research on flying squirrels (presented at the Southeast Ecology and Evolution (SEE) Meetings and Midwest Fish and Wildlife meetings), feeding behavior in pheasants and quail (presented at SEE and International Animal Behavior Society meetings), Wetlands restoration and Use of Biodiesel fuel (reported by Springfield State Journal Register and Jacksonville Journal Courier). Current research programs associated with the Environmental Studies Program include controls on the chemistry of natural waters and soils, hydrologic behavior of surface water in Midwestern and mountain watersheds, climatic influences on ecosystems, botanical conservation in tropical areas, and animal behavior.
Internships: Interns have the option of creating their own internship or applying for departmental or College internships which are competitive and offer a stipend. Our students have completed internships with the US Fish and Wildlife Service, Department of Natural Resources, Conservation Police, Henson Robinson Zoo, St. Louis Zoo, The Treehouse Wildlife Rehabilitation Center, The Audubon Society, US Department of Agriculture, Farm Service Agency, Washington University Tyson Wolf Rehabilitation Center, The Nature Conservancy, New Salem State Park, The Illinois State Museum, as well as many others.
What opportunities are available to environmental studies majors following graduation?
The environmental field is extensive and the demand for knowledgeable environmental professionals is only expected to increase. Potential career paths for Illinois College environmental studies graduates includes, but is not limited to, graduate school, consulting companies, corporate environmental compliance, governmental agencies, watershed alliances, and advocacy groups.