If you are interested in the earth’s environment and the role we humans play on this planet you might want to major in environmental science. As an environmental science major you will acquire a firm grasp of the basic science needed to describe and understand the behavior of natural systems. After several introductory courses in environmental science, biology, chemistry, geology and sometimes physics or climate change, our students have a solid background in the relevant natural sciences.
They then take several upper-level courses in the earth sciences, biology or physics to deepen their understanding of environmental issues. Courses here include ecology, environmental or organic chemistry, earth systems science, a course on soils, or several biology courses such as botany, conservation biology or a course on invasive species.
Many of our students are also involved in research. They have investigated the effects of clear-cutting on soil chemistry, determined the home ranges of urban hawk populations, investigated the ecotoxicology of urban amphibian and reptile populations, and studied seed dispersal by horses or the impact of prescribed wildfires on soils. The possibilities are numerous, and we highly recommend them to our students.
Environmental science, however, does not occur in a vacuum, far removed from interests and actions of humans. Our students also take at least two courses in the social sciences or the humanities. The choices here include coursework on environmental policy, nature writing, economics or anthropology.
Majoring in environmental science is not just about classwork, however. We are a small, close-knit program and know our students well. During the warmer months we often have barbecues, the famous McCookouts, behind our building (McCook Hall), and field trips to places with varied landscapes to expand the learning opportunities.
Faculty members are responding to the global climate crisis by offering new courses that address climate change through various academic disciplines. “It’s a problem that affects every single person on this planet—not just environmental science majors,” said Professor of Physics and Environmental Science Christoph Geiss.
After conducting field research, a Trinity College professor and two students published a scientific paper that sheds light on how different threats impact river turtle populations. Based on research they conducted in Missouri in 2019, the paper can help to inform conservation strategies for river turtles.