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Environmental Studies
Last updated 3/16/2001

Knowledge and skill goals for this undergraduate degree program are recorded in the most recent CU-Boulder catalog.

The undergraduate degree program in Environmental Studies emphasizes knowledge and awareness of the causes, scale, and relative importance of the major environmental problems in the U.S. and the world, the complexity of factors relating to human interaction with the environment, especially the fact that environmental problems have both human and biophysical components, and the general principles of human-environmental interaction, global habitability and environmental change, and sustainable human societies. The program is designed to provide a broad but rigorous education in environmental issues and problem-solving, as opposed to traditional, discipline-based training.

Activities in 2000-2001

A survey of all Environmental Studies alumni since 1993 was done in the fall of 2000, as part of the Department's program review process. The overall response was favorable, and also yielded some well-constructed comments and recommendations. There were 666 questionnaires mailed out; 121 responses were received.

The alumni were asked mainly about their careers, including current positions, salaries, company name and description, as well as year graduated from CU, which track and specialization they followed and whether they had positive or negative comments about the major.

The majority of respondents graduated with the "Environmental Conservation" major, which was a previous manifestation of the Environmental Studies Program. These students graduated between 1993 and 1997 (though somehow we got responses from several pre-1993 grads). A frequent comment was that the major as it was then designed was too broad. Students graduating after '97 followed the current Environmental Studies curriculum, which included tracks and specializations to the curriculum, and which was seen as an improvement. A number of students double majored in a related discipline and commented positively about doing so.

All of those who responded said they were currently employed or doing graduate work; jobs included environmental coordinator, safety/environmental consultant, chemist, wetland ecologist, attorney, field and stream guy, plumber, and graduate student. There was a full range of responses about how useful the Environmental Studies major was to current occupation or work, from "not beneficial jobwise," and "not much preparation for a career," to "good for my job," and "using knowledge constantly." Despite some of the negative comments, however, many of our graduates are employed in an environmental field and/or by an environmental organization or company, or are pursuing graduate work in a related field.

While specific comments about faculty, advising, and administration of the program were not solicited, several alums did comment on these aspects of the program, including, "more funding for administrative structure needed," "lack of funding," "Profs concerned with own students," "overworked advisor," and "need to advise where students can find work."

In light of these findings, the department will work to further refine the curriculum to make students more 'marketable,' and improve academic and career advising for students.


Last revision 07/12/02

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