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Strategic Plan

Environmental Studies Program

August 2010

Program Overview:

The Environmental Studies minor draws ideas and information from a wide array of fields such as anthropology, public policy, political science, economics, geography, geology, history, philosophy, psychology, sociology, biology, engineering, health science, and chemistry.


The Environmental Studies minor is designed to provide a broad interdisciplinary understanding of environmental issues for students in any major. Courses in the program will prepare students to develop effective, practical ways to address sustainability and environmental concerns.


Guided by the ideals of liberal education, the Environmental Studies program exemplifies the University and Brooks College of Interdisciplinary Studies mission by serving as the nexus for transformative interdisciplinary teaching, engaged learning, and exemplary scholarship for GVSU and the larger community.

The Environmental Studies Program at GVSU

  • Facilitates and fosters collaborative, interdisciplinary teaching and learning about environmental and sustainability issues.
  • Models inclusion and change for the university, by connecting with local, national and global communities through environmental projects and partnerships.
  • Creates, promotes, and supports experiential service-learning and civic engagement opportunities.
  • Encourages collaborative, interdisciplinary environmental research involving faculty and students from various departments and colleges, as well as community partners.


We value:

  • Building communities that ensure sustainable development and environmental justice
  • Interdisciplinary approaches to teaching and research
  • Liberal education and academic excellence in learning, teaching, and research
  • Rigorous scholarship by faculty and students as a foundation for teaching, learning, vocation, and civic life
  • Diverse, innovative and effective teaching
  • Assessment as a means to evaluate and improve student learning
  • Culture of collegiality and collaboration
  • Diversity, civic discourse, and democratic communities
  • Experiential learning
  • International perspectives and experiences

Long-term Program Goals:

  • Achieve program excellence in the Midwest
  • Develop an undergraduate certificate in Food and Agricultural Studies
  • Develop an undergraduate certificate in Climate Change Studies
  • Develop an undergraduate certificate in Fresh Water Studies
  • Develop a graduate certificate in Environmental and Sustainability Studies
  • Increase partnerships with other departments and with external environmental agencies and programs
  • Ensure that environmental education is a part of general education
  • Increase the diversity of ENS faculty and students
  • Establish a Center/Institute for Environmental Studies at GVSU
  • Attract external grants to promote interdisciplinary environmental education and undergraduate research at GVSU
  • Achieve reputation on campus and in Midwest as a leading center for environmental education and undergraduate research.


Student Learning Goals:

Goal 1: To promote excellence in interdisciplinary environmental education and undergraduate research.

Objective 1: Students will demonstrate understanding of the theoretical foundations and applications of sustainability-related concepts and understand the interconnectedness of the socio-cultural, economic, and environmental dimensions of sustainable development.

Objective 2: Faculty and students will provide expertise to the university, and its surrounding constituencies and communities in environmental issues of the Great Lakes Region, sustainable urban development, food security, environmental quality, and environmental policy.


Goal 2: To encourage GVSU students to be environmentally literate, responsible, and engaged citizens.

Objective 1: The ENS minor will strengthen the service learning component of the curriculum and encourage students to participate in volunteer and extra-curricular professional development activities.

Objective 2; Students will learn to develop practical applications of environmental studies and sustainability concepts to address the real-life environmental challenges and issues.


Goal 3: To support high quality, student-focused, interdisciplinary undergraduate environmental education provided by a faculty dedicated to excellent teaching, scholarship and professional service.

Objective 1: Students will demonstrate competence in three areas: environmental humanities, social science and natural science. They will develop understanding of sustainability concepts, acquire experience of interdisciplinary collaboration, and develop expertise in basic field research focused on local environmental issues.

Objective 2: Students will effectively communicate understanding, analyses, and arguments in group discussions, presentations, and/or written reports.


Goal 4: Students will describe the major theories related to global changes and sustainable development, human vulnerability, mitigation, and adaptations to the local, regional, and global environmental changes.

Objective 1: Students will be able to discuss, analyze, and explain processes and trends of environmental change at various geographic and temporal scales.

Objective 2: Students will be able to apply their knowledge to the real-life environmental issues.