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I. Introduction

During this time of significant environmental degradation it is especially important for students entering into the workforce, in any field, to be aware of the implications of their actions and to have at least some knowledge on how to repair the damage that has already been done.

II. Responsible Parties

David Barnhill is the Director of the Environmental Studies Program at the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh.

III. Environmental Education at the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh

The University of Wisconsin Oshkosh offers both a major and a minor in Environmental Studies. The Environmental Studies program was inaugurated in 1996 with the establishment of an academic minor. As of June 6, 2002 the Environmental Studies Program began offering an academic major. The major and the minor are available to students from all colleges at the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh. College of Education students specializing in the Natural Sciences can be certified by the Department of Public Instruction to teach Elementary or Middle School, or High School.

The program consists of a curriculum that incorporates the humanities, social sciences, and natural sciences. As such, it is the only program of its kind in the University of Wisconsin System. Students earn credits from many departments at the UW Oshkosh in addition to taking core Environmental Studies courses that provide a solid background in key environmental issues and the various analytic tools required to address them. The Program offers opportunities for interactive classroom learning as well as for field study, internships, and student-organized events and projects. As a small, but growing program, Environmental Studies at the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh provides an intimate learning environment. Currently there are twenty-six majors and twenty-three minors. The total annual budget provided to the program is $8,686.

The following are the objectives of the Environmental Studies Program at the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh:

  • To provide quality instruction for students seeking careers or advancement in environmentally-related occupations in the public sector, private sector, or who seek to continue academic work in environmental studies or related disciplines.
  • To provide a broad-based, interdisciplinary understanding of environmental problems, drawn from the natural sciences, the social sciences, and the humanities. The broad training provided by an interdisciplinary program can impart the communication skills needed to work collaboratively toward practical solutions with diverse stakeholders.
  • To provide opportunities for students to develop practical problem-oriented expertise through involvement in internship and senior seminar experiences.
  • To promote environmental literacy and responsible citizenship among our students. To this end, we aim to ensure that all of our students are equipped to think critically and act responsibly in response to contemporary environmental problems, and are prepared with the skills necessary for crafting solutions and understanding the obstacles to environmental problems.

The following environmentally related courses are offered or have been offered in the recent past at the University:

  • ANTHROPOLOGY 348 - Economy Nature and Culture
    BIOLOGY (ENVS) 260 - Environment and Living Systems
    BIOLOGY 104 - Ecosphere in Crisis
    BIOLOGY 325 (525) - Field Ecology
    BIOLOGY 349 - Ecology and Evolution
    BIOLOGY 386 (586) - Ecosystems Ecology
    BIOLOGY 376 - Population and Community Ecology
    BIOLOGY 386 (586) - Systems Ecology
    CHEMISTRY 103 - Environmental Chemistry
    ECONOMICS 360 – Environmental Economic Policy
    ENGLISH 342 - Green Romanticism
    ENVS 101 - Seminar in Environmental Issues
    ENVS 162 - Environment and Values
    ENVS 188 - Nature, Society, and Environmental Issues
    ENVS 211 - Seminar on Environmental Issues
    ENVS 272 - Environment, Communication, and Culture
    ENVS 332 - Radical Environmentalism
    ENVS 343 - Nature Writing
    ENVS 370 - Environmental Science Policy and Problem Solving
    ENVS 390 - Environment, Globalization, and Critical Theory
    ENVS 490 – Senior Seminar in Environmental Studies
    GEOGRAPHY 304 - Soils, Landscapes and Society
    GEOGRAPHY 314 - Environmental Conservation
    GEOGRAPHY 363 - Biogeography
    GEOGRAPHY 364 - Water Resource Management
    GEOGRAPHY 414 - Natural Resource Management
    GEOGRAPHY 419 (619) - Natural Hazards and Disaster Planning
    GEOLOGY 150 - Environmental Geology
    GEOLOGY 320 - Geomorphology
    GEOLOGY 335 (535) - Glacial Geology
    GEOLOGY 365 - Hydrogeology
    HISTORY 342 - Environmental History
    NURSING 361 - Human Health and the Environment
    POLI SCI 395 - Global Environmental Politics
    POLI SCI 391 - Environmental Energy Management
    RELIGIOUS STUDIES 162 – Environmental Ethics
    RELIGIOUS STUDIES 362 - Religion and Earth Ethics
    SOCIOLOGY (ENVS) 261 - Environment and Society
    SOCIOLIGY 342 - Social Ecology
    URB REG 317 - Land Use Regulation
    WOMENS STUDIES 365 - Gender and Nature

Environmental education outside of classes has largely been the result of student and faculty initiatives. One initiative that has brought the University international attention is its participation in the Earth Charter Community Summits and its endorsement of the Earth Charter. The mission of the Earth charter Initiative is to establish a sound ethical foundation for the emerging global society and to help build a sustainable world based on respect for nature, universal human rights, economic justice, and a culture of peace. The University of Wisconsin Oshkosh is a founding member of the international summits and is the largest, dedicating an entire week to discuss and celebrate the principals of the Earth Charter. The Faculty Senate, Senate of Academic Staff, Classified Staff Advisory Council, and the Oshkosh Student Association have all endorsed the Earth Charter, thus gaining the University’s endorsement. This initiative has included a wide-ranging collection of events. The University has also demonstrated its commitment to conservation by purchasing a 12.30-acre marsh located on the shores of Lake Butte des Morts which will permanently remain marshland.

Student groups on campus have played a hand in raising environmental awareness through a number of events. The major environmental groups on campus are the Student Environmental Action Coalition, the Campus Greens, the Animal Liberation Action Group, the Campus Vegetarians, and the Environmental Task Force in the residence halls. The Oshkosh Student Association also has an executive position for an Environmental Affairs Director. Recently, a resolution passed by the student assembly was fulfilled through student initiative. The resolution called for two trees to be planted for every one tree that was cut down during the renovation of Reeve Memorial Union. You can download a copy of the resolution. The replacement trees were planted as part of the 2003 Earth Day events. For more information on this particular event read the following Advance Titan articles:

SEAC making a positive difference
Reeve picnic area will lose trees, space
Resolution will replace lost trees

IV. Recommendations:

For Administration

  • Encourage faculty to incorporate or to highlight environmental content within their courses whenever it is appropriate.
  • Require all students to take an environmental course before they graduate.

For Faculty

  • Organize and attend workshops or training sessions could be organized to train professors how to add green content to their courses, which will result in more students graduating environmentally literate.
  • Explore environmental issues that are applicable to your field of study and incorporate them into your curricula.

For Students

  • Make it a point to educate themselves about environmental issues while attending the college by taking classes, attending events, watching television programs, or just reading articles or books dealing with environmental issues.
  • Encourage your professors to discuss environmental issues by raising questions or making comments in class.
  • Invite guest speakers to any and all student group meetings to discuss environmental issues and how they relate to your group.
  • Teach others through example; learn from those who set examples.
  • Organize events that educate students about environmental issues or join a student group such as the Student Environmental Action Coalition that work towards making the campus more sustainable and the students more aware.
  • Consider adding a minor or a major in Environmental Studies to your degree, it can give you a competitive edge in practically any job market you choose.
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Last update: October 10, 2003
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2003