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ENVS major plans tracks, introductory course

Claire Montgomery
Contributing Writer

A new introductory course in environmental studies has been announced for next semester as work continues on developing curriculum for an environmental studies major.

Matthew Mariola, chair of the new department, said that the Environmental Studies Curriculum Committee hopes that the major could be implemented by fall 2019, but that the major proposal still has several steps to clear.

The environmental studies major was proposed last semester due to interest from both students and professors. Mariola announced the introductory course in an email to students in which he said it would be required for the major.

“The introductory course is called Key Concepts in Environmental Studies,” said Mariola. “It will focus at a pretty broad and conceptual level on some of the core ideas that help shed light on how we came to find ourselves in so many environmental crises.”

According to Mariola, there are five proposed tracks for the new major, one of which may be focused on conservation biology. Each of the tracks will have a set of core courses.

Developing and planning the new major is a slow process due to how interdisciplinary it is, according to Mariola. Other obstacles include the fact that there are only two faculty members for the department.

“Planning has been ongoing since fall semester,” Mariola said. “Getting all the details right requires talking to and incorporating feedback from many constituencies, including affiliated departments, faculty members who teach courses that would be included in the major.”

However, Mariola said that progress was being made, and said that the Educational Policy Committee (EPC) and the department’s curriculum committee are currently deliberating on many necessary details.

“We have created a draft set of course requirements for all five tracks — no small task,” Mariola said. “We have met to discuss what Junior and Senior I.S. will look like in the new major [and] we have consulted with EPC about the optimal timeline for the overall process.”

Before the major can be approved, a curriculum proposal must be submitted to the EPC, at which point it will likely be revised before being voted on by the faculty. Mariola also said that a series of “town hall” meetings would be held for the campus community to provide comment before the major is established.

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