Tufts University | School of Arts and Sciences | School of Engineering | Graduate School of Arts and Sciences | Find People |
   

Committees

Arts and Sciences Learning Objectives

Environmental Studies

Overview

Students majoring in Environmental Studies work with the science driving environmental processes,
the interactions between technology and the environment, and the social and cultural dimensions of environmental preservation and improvement. This is taken as a second major, addressing the contribution of natural sciences, social sciences, technology, and the humanities in resolving environmental problems by acting between the boundaries of traditional disciplines.

Goals of the Environmental Studies Program

We use a multidisciplinary curriculum exposing students to theoretical and practical approaches to environmental work. Broadly, our goal is to empower student navigation across scientific, social, and humanistic fields, preparing them for collaborative decision making, continued learning, career development, or proximate work in advocacy, consulting, government, law, and education.

Learning Objectives: those in bold are of highest priority

Upon successful completion of Environmental Studies as a second major, students are able to:

  1. Appreciate the importance of interdisciplinary knowledge and approaches when evaluating and/or seeking solutions to environmental issues;

  2. Integrate multiple disciplines (interdisciplinary) into their papers and projects, using quantitative and qualitative skills to address environmental issues effectively;

  3. Use critical methods employed by practitioners in the environmental field (e.g., GIS, remote sensing; systems analysis; statistics; research methods in the humanities, social sciences, or natural sciences; filmmaking, photography or other art forms);

  4. To deliver well-researched presentations on environmental topics supported by the primary literature and by analysis of how evidence favors one of several possible conclusions.

  5. Effectively communicate to different audiences (researchers, media, public, etc.);

  6. To think and write critically on an environmental topic.

In addition, all students will be able to:

  1. Demonstrate salient features of ecosystem services: climate, soil, water, biodiversity.

  2. Work collaboratively by organizing teams to analyze and solve environmental problems.

Specific Behavior Objective/Outcome (of those in bold above)

  1. Integrate multiple disciplines (interdisciplinary) into their papers and projects, using quantitative and qualitative skills to address environmental issues effectively;

    To complete the major students take courses in engineering (Engineering Science), economics (Principles of Economics or Environmental Economics), political science or humanities (multiple options), and four courses in the sciences (environmental biology, environmental geology, chemistry and biology). The seminar brings the students together to examine topics that integrate the disciplines. Students then take three courses that provide depth of analysis in one of three areas (Environmental Science, Environment and Technology, and Environment and Society). Throughout the curriculum, students are expected to evaluate and propose solutions critical issues in environmental studies.

    Given this breadth and depth, students are prepared to work across fields of study to identify the core challenges and to offer specific actions that could mitigate the problems.

  2. Capable of using critical methods used by practitioners in the environmental field

    Each student should graduate knowing how to use key methods (GIS, Remote sensing, Survey methods, Statistics, Filmmaking) to address analyze and present data on a topic. For this reason each of the tracks within the revised major will require a methods course.

  3. Deliver well-researched presentations on environmental topics supported by the primary literature and by analysis of how evidence favors one of several possible conclusions.

    We want students to graduate with an in-depth knowledge of how to find and evaluate resources. We ask that students use reviews and popular writings to provide a framework and to use the primary literature to evaluate original data on a topic. Environmental issues are rarely simple and thus it is critical that students learn to analyze the evidence for and against specific conclusions.

    Given this focus on data/evidence, students become an authority on the topic and able to argue persuasively on the subject.

  4. Effective at communicating to different audiences

    Multiple course within the program are now requiring students produce a video that is well researched, engaging and targeted to a specific audience.

  5. Work collaboratively by organizing teams to analyze and solve environmental problems.

    Numerous courses require teamwork. For example, in Environmental Biology, students work in teams of 4 to create a 5 min digital story. These stories integrate images, sound and narrative to examine an environmental issue. Project goals range from public service announcements, advocacy, to education. In advanced seminars students again work in teams to examine a topic and to present it to their peers.

    In addition the major requires and internship. These internships again require that students learn to work as a team while gaining critical "real world" experience.

    Given this training in team-work, students are better prepared to work collaboratively with individuals with distinct but complementary skills. [Most jobs in environmental studies require that students work in teams so this training is critical to their success.]

Assessment Strategies that we use to determine a student's degree of success in meeting each objective.

Philosophy: Learning is often most effective by providing students opportunities for independent/group work (as opposed to lectures followed by exams). As a consequence our assessment strategies include exams, oral and written presentations, and group projects

  1. Integrate multiple disciplines (interdisciplinary) into their papers and projects, using quantitative and qualitative skills to address environmental issues effectively;

    The seminars, with their emphasis on presentations and group projects allow us to assess how well students are integrating across the disciplines.

  2. Capable of using critical methods used by practitioners in the environmental field

    Students are strongly encouraged to complete methods courses (and will be required in the revised curriculum).

    In addition, the completion of the internship (it requires prior approval and the completion of a form at the end) allows us to make sure students are finding appropriate internships that teach them new skills. [We note that many students have commented on the value of their internships for their subsequent job prospects].

  3. Deliver well-researched presentations on environmental topics supported by the primary literature and by analysis of how evidence favors one of several possible conclusions.

    Evaluations are not only based on clarity of presentation but also on the evidence and the use of diverse sources of information.

  4. Effective at communicating to different audiences

    We will assess student work for how well specific audiences are targeted.

  5. Work collaboratively by organizing teams to analyze and solve environmental problems.

    There are various ways we assess team projects. Students are given a timeline for completion of different phases of a project and the team is evaluated on their ability to meet these deadlines as well as the information presented.

Back to main Learning Objectives page >