2023-2024 University Catalog (Under Review) 
    Jun 09, 2023  
2023-2024 University Catalog (Under Review)

Environmental Studies

Environmental Studies offers both an interdisciplinary major and an interdisciplinary minor, requiring an understanding of the sciences, social sciences, and the humanities, designed to educate students in a broad class of issues related to the environment and humanity’s place in the natural world. Students employ this interdisciplinary approach to develop a comprehensive understanding of the causes, consequences, and solutions to environmental problems. This is not only an academic experience but also an expansion of the students’ capacities as citizens, allowing them to become aware of the scientific, ethical, and policy issues they will face in their local communities, their professions, and in the broader world community.

The major consists of a set of required and elective courses designed to provide a broad platform of knowledge upon which to build a career and graduate study in the environmental area. Many elective courses are drawn from course offerings in other departments.  Students choose from among different elective tracks in the major to focus their coursework around specific themes, including Conservation Biology, Water Resources, Environmental Humanities, Climate Change, and Environmental Economics.  Students also have the option of designing their own elective track around a different theme, with approval of the program faculty.  All majors and minors complete a capstone project, which can take a variety of forms and is intended to bring together their supporting interdisciplinary coursework in a formative, culminating experience.  The major is designed to educate students in a broad class of issues related to the environment and to humanity’s place in the natural world, while supporting a wide variety of career choices (research, government, corporate, non-governmental organizations) and graduate school options.

The Environmental Studies minor is a series of related courses intended to both complement and enhance the student’s chosen major(s) in a different discipline. Interested students are encouraged to talk to the director of the program early in their academic careers in order to discuss which course of study is more appropriate to their academic needs and career plans.

See the description of the Environmental Studies major leading to BA degree  or Environmental Studies minor  to understand the interdisciplinary nature of the program and the organization of its curriculum.

An understanding of environmental issues is a key component of a liberal arts education. At Washington and Lee, we take an interdisciplinary approach to understanding the causes and consequences of environmental problems and the development and implementation of solutions to these environmental problems. Faculty and students from across the campus integrate natural sciences, social sciences, the humanities, and law through study, research, and a variety of cocurricular activities, including numerous public lectures and service-learning projects. Students develop disciplinary expertise and an understanding of how insights from different disciplines must be integrated to address environmental problems. This process involves both academic experience and expansion of the students’ capacities as citizens, enabling them to become aware of the scientific, ethical, and policy issues they will face in their local communities, their professions, and in the global community.

Faculty in Environmental Studies are appointed from departments across the university including Accounting, Biology, Business Administration, Earth and Environmental Geoscience, Economics, English, Philosophy, Politics, and Sociology and Anthropology. More information is available on the program’s website at www.wlu.edu/environmental-studies-program.

Chesapeake Bay Program: Established in 2008 through funding from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Since its creation, the program has focused on place-based teaching which integrates students into local watershed issues of land use and how they can impact the local watershed and the Bay’s health. This interdisciplinary program is tailored to immerse students into the social, economic and cultural realities of the watershed. It also adds a domestic component to the program’s already strong international presence in the Brazilian Amazon, providing students with an opportunity to engage in comparative analysis of two critically important watersheds.

HONORS: An Honors Program in environmental studies is offered for well-qualified majors; see the program head for details.

Program Head: Robert Humston       

Core Faculty

First date is the year in which the faculty member began service as regular faculty at the University. Second date is the year of appointment to the present rank.

James F. Casey, Ph.D.—(1998)-2007
Associate Professor of Economics
Ph.D., North Carolina State University

Gregory J. Cooper, Ph.D.—(1999)-2016
Professor of Philosophy
Ph.D., University of Minnesota

Chelsea R. Fisher, Ph.D.—(2019)-2019
Assistant Professor of Environmental Studies
Ph.D., University of Michigan

Mary Lisa Greer, Ph.D.—(2003)-2015
Professor of Geology
Ph.D., University of Miami

Eugene William Hamilton III, Ph.D.—(2001)-2013
Professor of Biology
Ph.D., Syracuse University

David Jorgensen Harbor, Ph.D.—(1992)-2004
Professor of Geology
Ph.D., Colorado State University

Robert Humston, Ph.D.—(2008)-2018
Professor of Biology
Ph.D., University of Miami

Lawrence E. Hurd, Ph.D.—(1993)-1993
John T. Herwick, M.D., Professor of Biology
Ph.D., Syracuse University

James R. Kahn, Ph.D.—(2000)-2000
John F. Hendon Professor of Economics
Ph.D., University of Maryland