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Welcome from Dan Rubenstein, Director of the Environmental Studies Program

Dan Rubenstein, ENV Program Director

Change in the natural world is normal.  The Earth’s temperature, atmospheric composition, climate, and biodiversity fluctuate naturally.  But until the growth of the human population began accelerating, the contribution of humanity to these changes has been relatively slight.  Today, human induced change has grown and environmental changes are occurring at unprecedented rapid rates.  Understanding the dynamics of environmental change, the causes and consequences of these dynamics as well as how to adapt and manage these changes are just some of the topics covered in Environmental Studies courses, activities, and guided independent work. 

The ENV program is integrative and multi-disciplinary offering a variety of lenses for viewing environmental threats and for envisioning and creating new solutions to these environmental challenges.  The science behind climate change, hydrology, agriculture, and biodiversity connects to the economics of different strategies of resource use; the role of governance in shaping and implementing effective actions; the impact of changing landscapes on the health of people, crops, and livestock; the historical context that underlies human actions then and now; and the design of novel structures and processes for improving the planet’s overall health.

Anyone with a passion about the environment and a desire to learn more about the most pressing problems facing people and our planet and what can be done to eliminate them should complete the requirements for an ENV certificate.  If your  interest is in the social sciences or the humanities, then the ENV experience can provide insights into how ecology, hydrology and biogeochemistry of land, water, and air will affect the moral, social, political and economic conditions of our society.  If you are  interested in the natural sciences or engineering, then understanding the human dimension of decision-making or the functioning of institutions will likely be the key to designing successful innovations and environmental interventions.  Clearly, the ENV certificate can enrich the theses of every major since the information learned addresses issues of social injustice, biodiversity conservation, and the design of better governance, health delivery systems, and eco-friendly physical structures.

The ENV program provides a place where people with common interests, but different experiences and backgrounds can come together to share insights, expand horizons, and work together to build a better planet.  As Director, I will work with faculty and students to support common initiatives that provide intellectual and practical experiences for conserving biodiversity, enhancing ecosystem function, and improving livelihoods and public health by developing effective and sustainable strategies for managing resources, landscapes, and climate.  Together, we can challenge each other to ask new questions and find novel solutions to the myriad of problems harming our planet’s health.  Get involved, increase your knowledge, and make a difference.  Earn an ENV certificate.