Department Information

Environmental Science & Sustainability

Professors  Terry Bensel (Chair). Bethurem, Bowden, Bradshaw-Wilson, Byrnes, Carbone, Demi, Pallant,  Shaffer, and Swann-Quinn.

Student Learning Outcomes for Environmental Science and Sustainability

Students who successfully complete a major in Environmental Science or Environmental Studies are expected to be able to:

  • Demonstrate a general understanding of the breadth and interdisciplinary nature of environmental issues. (ENV 110)
  • Demonstrate a general understanding of the qualitative and quantitative research methods to gain empirical evidence bearing on evaluation of environmentally sustainable alternatives. (ES 210)
  • Demonstrate depth of critical analysis and writing of environmental problems that span popular, ‘gray’ and primary publications. (FSENV 201)
  • Demonstrate the ability to locate, interpret and apply published research and lessons from successful projects to a focused environmental solution with potential regional stakeholders. (ES 58x)
  • Design, conduct and present (orally and in writing) independent research that is consistent with the highest standards and practices of research in environmental science. (ES 6xx)
  • Be well-prepared for meaningful careers and post-graduate education in fields related to environmental science and beyond.

Environmental Science is the study of interrelationships between human activities and the environment.  Environmental Science and Sustainability is an unusual academic discipline in that it requires scientific knowledge of the natural world as well as an understanding of ways in which humans interact with the natural world.  We examine effects of human actions on the environment and the means by which policies, regulations, and decisions influence human actions.  We also examine how human behavioral, cultural, and sociological interactions affect the environment.  Thus, the department is truly interdisciplinary and exemplifies the liberal arts approach to education.  Departmental courses examine ecological systems; interactions of human perceptions, ideas, and technologies; and social, political, economic, and technological methods to preserve environmental quality.  We seek to inspire creativity and combine passion with critical thinking skills in students who one day will be the citizens working to convert the world to more sustainable systems.


  • One of the oldest environmental science departments in the country (established in 1972).
  • Numerous opportunities for experiential learning in nearby natural environments: wetlands, lakes, streams, and forests, including a College-owned research reserve.
  • Extensive internship opportunities with local, state, and federal agencies, nonprofit environmental organizations, and local industry.
  • Vigorous off-campus study programs in Costa Rica, India, Kenya, Israel, Ecuador and elsewhere.
  • Emphasis on independent research.
  • Required Senior Project that demonstrates to employers and graduate schools the ability to complete a major independent research project.
  • Faculty who involve students in local, state, national and international environmental issues and research.
  • A NASA New Investigator Award supports the study of the influences of El Niño climatic events in Philippine farming systems and forest use.
  • Awards from the National Science Foundation support student-faculty research on forest and aquatic ecosystems.
  • Grants totaling $1.3 million from the Heinz Endowment, Mellon Foundation, Eden Hall Foundation, Luce Foundation, and others support the College’s commitment to sustainable community development and improved environmental quality in northwestern Pennsylvania.
  • Faculty members have received prestigious Fulbright Scholar Awards.
  • Students have received prestigious Udall Scholarships for environmental leadership.