This is the century of the environment. A growing population and a warming planet create what many see as the greatest challenge ever faced by humanity. The goal of the Environmental Thought and Practice (ETP) major is to prepare students to embrace that challenge, both in their studies and in the rest of their lives. We teach undergraduates to think about environmental issues within an interdisciplinary framework that includes natural sciences, social sciences and humanities. Environmental problems concern physical, chemical and biological phenomena—human caused or natural—that can be described by environmental scientists. "Problems" are defined by our response to these phenomena, and those responses are contingent on cultural constructs and historical events even moreso than scientific measurements. Attempts to solve these problems fall within the political sphere, but policy debates draw on principles and discourses from philosophy, economics, psychology and ethics. In short, understanding and solving environmental problems demands the ability to connect ideas from diverse disciplines that span the natural and social sciences as well as the humanities.
The Environmental Thought and Practice program seeks to produce students who:
- 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.
- connect classroom theory with real-world practice.
Faculty members from across grounds are involved with the Environmental Thought and Practice program.