Starting in 2015, CENHS will administer Rice University’s new minor in Environmental Studies. This shift reflects a new level of participation by the humanities and social sciences in this lively field. For more information about course requirements, please click here.
Environmental Studies is an interdisciplinary field that explores the interconnection between humans, other species and their lived environments. Modern environmental issues reflect the complex interactions of natural and social systems at global and local scales, and the resulting impacts on the Earth have led many to ask whether humankind has entered into a new epoch in the planet’s history, the Anthropocene, one in which humans are now a key driver in the change of Earth systems. The Environmental Studies program fosters the critical, integrative thinking required to better understand the complexities of human-nonhuman-environment relationships and to assess and develop solutions to today’s environmental challenges that meet intergenerational human needs without compromising the natural systems upon which humans and other species depend.
Why was the Environmental Studies minor created?
The Environmental Studies minor was specifically created to provide undergraduates from a broad range of academic backgrounds with a cohesive program offering foundational literacy in the social, cultural, and scientific dimensions of environmental issues, and a cross-disciplinary holistic understanding of the challenges and solutions for creating a sustainable world.
What are the learning outcomes of the Environmental Studies minor?
Students completing the minor will be able to synthesize frameworks, tools, and perspectives from multiple disciplines; master sustainability terminology; understand major environmental issues from multiple perspectives; develop and assess environmental solutions in an informed and logical manner; and convey knowledge and insights about environmental issues in multiple formats. The specific learning outcomes of the Environmental Studies minor are as follows:
- Scientific Environmental Literacy: Students will demonstrate a working knowledge of basic concepts and facts in the field of earth science and/or ecology, evolutionary biology, and conservation biology; students will be introduced to some key environmental issues; students will demonstrate the ability to apply critical thinking and problem solving skills to evaluate scientific research; and students will demonstrate an understanding of the scientific method.
- Social and Cultural Environmental Literacy: Students will learn to utilize terms, theories, and concepts from the humanities, social sciences, arts, and architecture and apply them to environmental issues; and students will demonstrate the ability to apply critical thinking and develop long-form cohesive arguments and articulate insights related to the interrelations between social and environmental systems.
- Cross-Disciplinary Perspective: Students will demonstrate the ability to approach environmental issues from a holistic perspective, synthesizing frameworks, tools, and perspectives from multiple disciplines; students will master sustainability terminology; students will understand major environmental issues from multiple perspectives; students will be able to develop and assess environmental solutions in an informed and logical manner; and students will be able to convey their knowledge and insights about environmental issues in multiple formats (written, verbal, etc.).
Who administers the Environmental Studies minor?
The Environmental Studies minor is administered by CENHS, the Center for Energy and Environmental Research in the Human Sciences. Students seeking advice regarding the Environmental Studies minor should contact Dr. Dominic Boyer (firstname.lastname@example.org) or CENHS coordinator Andrea Galindo (email@example.com).