Environmental Science & Sustainability at GC
In choosing Goshen College’s environmental science program you are signing on to join a community of scholars committed to working for restorative and hope-filled solutions to our world’s sustainability challenges. We are looking for students who share our passion for restoring right relationships with each other and creation. In selecting Goshen, your unfolding story becomes our story. We hope you join us.
What is Distinctive?
Diverse field stations and excellent research centers
As a student at Goshen College, you will have 1,189 acres of prairie, forest, wetland, and lake habitat to explore at Merry Lea Environmental Learning Center. The LEED-Platinum certified cottages at Rieth Village can be your home for an entire semester!
You can also study at the college-owned J.N. Roth Marine Biology station in the Florida Keys where students take coursework, participate in research projects, and complete summer internships. We have ongoing partnerships with researchers from Old Dominion University.
Our campus has inviting natural areas within a few minutes walk from the dorms. Across the street is the Witmer Woods Arboretum and the College Cabin, which serve as prime educational and research sites directly on the Elkhart River. The campus also has 7 acres of reconstructed Tallgrass Prairie, which students use for ongoing research and study.
Our faculty also have ongoing international research projects, such as the Scale & Fire Ecology project, based at Mpala Research Centre in Laikipia, Kenya. Goshen students can take courses and assist in research projects at Mpala during the summer.
Collaborations between Biology and SEED
Take advantage of joint programming between the Biological Sciences Department (BSD) and the Sustainability and Environmental Education Department (SEED) housed at Merry Lea. The two departments collaborate to offer a diverse array of hands-on learning opportunities that parallel the highest quality programs in the country. The numbers are on your side -
12 = faculty in the SEED & BSD departments
1,189 = acres available at Merry Lea Environmental Learning Center for study and research
46 = years we’ve operated a marine biology program in the Florida Keys
40 = students in the Goshen College Environmental Science Program (until you come!)
2012 = the inaugural year of the Sustainability Semester
too numerous to count = the number of interdisciplinary conversations about sustainability on our campus
Faculty from multiple departments are passionate about sustainability
Our students benefit from the expertise of faculty in other departments, with classes in Environmental History, Environmental Economics, Sociology of Food, Peace & Justice, Environmental Education, Creation Care, and Environmental Policy. There is a vibrant, dialogue on campus among faculty and students about how to live more responsibly, decrease our carbon footprint, and debate solutions to climate change.
You can serve as a student representative on the Ecological Stewardship Committee, join the EcoPax Club where students run our campus composting program, or join the dialogue about linking peace with sustainability.
Ten reasons to study environmental science at Goshen College…
- swim with eagle rays in the FL Keys
- burn a tallgrass prairie
- live and study at Merry Lea for an entire semester during the Sustainability Leadership Semester
- attend an interdisciplinary conference on sustainability
- present your research project at a scientific conference
- become a campus leader in green initiatives
- grow your own food during the Agroecology Summer Intensive
- dialogue with eminent scholars in the annual Science & Religion Conference
- measure how elephants and fire affect habitat for wildlife in Kenya
- volunteer with an ecotourism company in the Serengeti NP during your Study Service Term (SST)
- participate in the Warm Homes, Cool Planet student outreach project.
What degrees are offered in Environmental Science or Sustainability?
The Department of Biological Sciences (BSD) offers a major in environmental science and a minor in environmental studies. The Sustainability and Environmental Education Department (SEED) offers a minor in sustainability and a minor in agroecology.
Major in Environmental Science – BSD
The ES major is completed via one of three different tracks, which creates a plan of study to match your interests.
Ecology Track – applying research skills to understanding our ecological world
Coursework and fieldwork prepares students for careers in ecology, wildlife studies, botany, marine biology, forestry, or other field biology vocations.
Sustainability Track – examining collaborative, interdisciplinary approaches to environmental challenges
Students earn 15 credits through participating in the fully residential Sustainability Leadership Semester at Merry Lea, or through the Campus Sustainability Track, where classes are taken in multiple departments.
Agroecology Track – implementing agricultural practices built on ecological principles
Through completion of the 8-week residential Agroecology Summer Intensive (ASI) taught at Merry Lea, students earn 12 credits and gain an immersive, integrative, hands-on approach to growing food. Students also take botany and entomology courses in the biology department.
Craft your own environmental studies minor through benefiting from the expertise of faculty in other departments, where classes are taught in environmental history, environmental economics, sociology of food, peace & justice, environmental education, creation care, and environmental policy.
Minor in Sustainability – SEED
Minor in Agroecology – SEED
By participating in the summer Agroecology Summer Intensive (offered each summer) students from any major can complete a minor in agroecology, with the addition of two other courses on campus.
What research opportunities are available?
Come get involved in research projects through your coursework, the Maple Scholars summer research program, international research trips to Kenya, and a collaborative junior/senior thesis project. Students and faculty are currently working on the following projects -
- Marine biology research in the Florida Keys
- The MAPS bird banding project at Merry Lea
- Tallgrass Prairie Grazing Project at Merry Lea Environmental Learning Center
- Pollinator genetics and ecology of honeybees
- Wildlife conservation and fire ecology in Kenya
- Photobioreactor research to grow algae biofuels
- The Community Clean Water Project (CCWP) Elkhart River monitoring research
With an environmental science major, GC students are equipped to enter graduate school in natural resource management, ecology, wildlife studies, sustainability, or other environmental science fields. Recent GC graduates are studying at the University of Washington, the University of Georgia, the University of Maryland, and Goshen College’s Masters in Environmental Education program.
Recent graduates are also applying their skills in their current work with The Nature Conservancy, Earthcorps, Grist, the Student Conservation Association, Mennonite Voluntary Service, and Mennonite Central Committee. Former graduates with interests in environmental science are doing amazing things. Their work is highlighted in two Merry Lea newsletters – the Autumn 2011 Leaflet and the Winter 2012 Leaflet.