Do you enjoy exploring the outdoors? Are you concerned about issues of social justice and sustainability? If so, you may be on your way to an environmental studies degree.
At Central, environmental studies majors choose from two tracks: environmental science or environmental sustainability. Both tracks include fundamentals of science, economics and politics, plus hands-on laboratory and fieldwork.
Graduates of Central’s program have gone on to careers in the lab, in the field and in management for federal and state agencies, as well as industry and non-profit agencies.
The Environmental Studies major consists of a strong background in the sciences, social sciences and an emphasis on developing good research and communication skills. Students in the program examine the interrelationships of science, society and nature in a world with limited resources.
Students also gain experience with GIS, a geographic information technology system that applies to many disciplines. Learn more about environmental studies in the course catalog.
Central College is a place that “walks the walk,” putting into action environmental initiatives. All entering students enroll in a sustainability course as part their core requirement. Central College is a member of AASHE, the Upper Midwest Association for Campus Sustainability (UMACS) and a signatory to the Talloires Declaration. Central College has been a leader in environmental design since 2003 and has pledged to go carbon neutral. Learn more about Central's sustainability efforts.
Central became a leader in environmental design when the Vermeer Science Center, which houses biology, chemistry, physics, natural science, mathematics and computer science departments, was awarded a silver Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) medal rating from the United States Green Building Council (USGBC). The science center was the first LEED-rated building in the state and the first LEED rated science building in the nation. The building contains 13 high-tech classrooms and a fully equipped GIS laboratory, as well as open computer labs and science labs where students can conduct their own research.
Central’s 79-acre Carlson-Kuyper Field Station serves as an “outdoor laboratory,” allowing students to utilize the nature preserve for labs as well as hands-on management experience in restoring prairie. Located about 12 miles from campus, the field station is adjacent to the extensive wildlife areas managed by the Corps of Engineers around Lake Red Rock, Iowa’s largest lake. It is also the site of Central’s Biomass Prairie project, engaging students in research and demonstration to promote prairies while working to address the larger global issue of global warming.
Recent projects include:
Students are encouraged to study abroad with Central College to enhance their development as global citizens and many courses taken abroad count toward the major. Academic opportunities and internship programs also are available in Chicago, Washington, D.C., and New York City. Learn more about Central’s study abroad programs.
Amy Andrews and Ethan Van Kooten had no money. How could they build a house? With truckloads of reclaimed materials, the students created a tiny home for $489.
Rachel Frana ’15 is using GIS mapping technology to help food pantries identify underserved areas of Des Moines.
With internship opportunities in Chicago and Washington, D.C., Central students can venture off campus for real-life job opportunities—and they gain more than work experience in the process.