The Environmental Thought and Practice (ETP) major teaches undergraduates to think about environmental issues within a broadly interdisciplinary framework. Environmental problems concern natural phenomena whose dimensions are appropriately described by environmental scientists. However, the "problems" themselves result from changes in public perception that are contingent upon cultural constructs and historical events. Attempts to solve these problems necessarily fall within the political sphere, but policy debates draw on principles and discourses from philosophy, economics, and ethics. In short, understanding and solving environmental problems demands the ability to connect ideas from such diverse disciplines as anthropology, literature, history, ethics, politics, the natural sciences, economics, and land use planning.

The objective of the Environmental Thought and Practice program is to produce students who can:

  • comprehend and think critically about scientific information, economic analysis, and the various ethical constructs that enter into environmental decisions; and,
  • appreciate how political and social context, historical events, and cultural expectations shape the way we perceive and solve environmental problems.

From its inception the ETP major was designed around the core principle that undergraduates need and want to connect classroom theory with real-world practice, a concept that other leading universities are only now beginning to incorporate into their curricula.

Faculty members from Anthropology, Chemistry, English, Environmental Sciences, History, Law, the McIntire School of Commerce, Politics, Religious Studies, Science and Technology Studies, and Urban and Environmental Planning are involved with the Environmental Thought and Practice program. 

Click here to check out a video featuring recent graduates of the Environmental Thought and Practice Program

Visit the website of the Panama Initiative, a program closely connected with ETP.