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Environmental Studies

As an environmental studies major, you’ll put your classroom knowledge into action. By visiting wildlife refuges, By touring wind farms. By helping to care for our 20-acre prairie. By conducting research with your professors. And by being challenged to obey God’s call to be stewards of his world in both your life and your work.

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Program Overview

Dordt’s environmental studies program is founded on the truth that the earth is the Lord’s. He knows it intimately, lovingly sustains it, and delights in the praise that his creation offers. Our mission is to cultivate stewardship of God's world as a lifestyle and a profession.

So why does Dordt’s environmental studies program stand out above the rest? For starters, our faculty members teach passionately and practice what they teach. We also offer a variety of labs and top-of-the-line equipment to make sure you have all the resources you need to succeed. We even offer a 20-acre restored prairie right on our campus for student research and learning.

On top of that, our program graduates from the last five years have had a 100 percent career outcome rate. That means our students leave Dordt ready to make an impact in the field, both through their skills and their faith.

two female students walk through the prairie

What can I do with a degree in environmental studies?

Along with your core environmental studies coursework, you’ll take off-campus field trips and tackle off-site projects. You'll do directed research to apply your knowledge and skills in a concrete project. You might participate in an internship or enroll in an off-campus class. And in your capstone course, you'll put what you've learned into practice through a project addressing an environmental challenge or opportunity. Ultimately, we’ll help you discover how Christians should interact with creation—and how you can turn your passion into your calling.

Here are just a few of the types of careers you’ll be prepared for with an environmental studies degree:

Environmental Educator

An Environmental Educator educates and informs on the environment and ways to sustain and protect it.

Environmental Attorney

An Environmental Attorney represents the environment and upholds the legal policies and regulations in a variety of environment-related cases.

Environmental Policy Analyst

An Environmental Policy Analyst identifies problems with environmental policies and proposes solutions to them.

Program Options

Environmental Studies Major

You'll do directed research to apply your knowledge and skills in a concrete project, participate in an internship, or enroll in an off-campus class. In the capstone Restoration Ecology and Applied Stewardship course, you'll put what you've learned into practice in a project that addresses an environmental challenge or opportunity.

Off-campus opportunities: As an environmental studies major, you are encouraged to spend a semester studying off-campus. Many students attend the Au Sable Institute of Environmental Studies during the summer, where they join students and instructors from other Christian colleges in hands-on study of forests, streams, marine organisms, and other parts of God's world. Au Sable offers course and field work in Michigan, Washington, and South India.

Other opportunities include:

  • Latin American Studies Program in Costa Rica
  • Chicago Semester Program
  • American Studies Program in Washington, D.C.
  • Creation Care Studies Program in Belize and New Zealand

The environmental studies department and the Career Development Center also maintain files on summer internship opportunities.

To learn more, you can also view the program strengths and learning outcomes for this program.

With a major in environmental studies, you can serve as a park ranger, working for a fish and wildlife department, a federal natural resource agency, an environmental conservation organization, and more.

A degree in environmental studies will require students to complete five environmental studies courses, one biology course, and one mathematics or statistics course. This coursework includes at least four credit hours of lab work.

  • Introduction to Environmental Studies I: An introduction to contemporary environmental studies and creation care, with emphasis on class discussion of relationships between human population and resource use in light of biblical teaching about environmental stewardship. Particular attention is given to the biotic and ecological dimensions of creation stewardship and planetary distress.
  • Introduction to Environmental Studies II: Flowing from a foundation in physical and earth sciences, this course offers an introduction to energy and material use in Western society and examines the resulting impact on the environment. Contemporary practices and their historical roots are critiqued in light of Biblical norms for stewardship. An emphasis on evaluation and implementation of practical steps toward sustainability permeates the course with the goal of motivating and equipping students to become lifelong stewards. The laboratory portion of the course combines tours, laboratory measurements, economic analysis, and environmental analysis. Three lectures and one laboratory period of three hours per week.
  • Field and Laboratory Investigations in Environmental Studies: A field and laboratory exploration of fundamental issues, concepts, and techniques of contemporary environmental studies with a biological and ecological focus. Includes visits to sites of natural history and stewardship interest both locally and regionally. Also includes an introduction to important technological tools in environmental studies and analysis of physical and biotic parameters of the environment. Required for students majoring or minoring in Community Development or Environmental Studies.
  • Geographic Information Systems and Surveying: An introduction to the acquisition, analysis, display, manipulation, and management of geographic information. Course topics will include geographical data input, storage, maintenance, analysis, and retrieval. Students will utilize common GIS software and associated hardware. An overview of survey methods used to gather and quantify features of physical geography will be included. The course will meet in two studio lab classes to provide an integral learn-by-doing experience applying GPS technology, survey methods, and GIS applications. Application of GIS to agriculture, business, environmental management, and other disciplines will be provided in this course.
  • Restoration Ecology and Applied Stewardship: An interdisciplinary capstone course designed to explore current research, thought, and issues in environmental stewardship with a focus on ecological restoration. Principles and practices of the discipline of restoration ecology will be explored and then utilized to develop a holistic restoration plan for a specific location. Conference attendance and regional travel to restoration sites are important components of the course.
  • Principles of Ecology and Field Biology: An introduction to ecological studies including topics in ecosystem and community structure, nutrient cycling, energy flow, limiting factors, and population interrelationships. The laboratory will emphasize study of local flora and fauna via field work. Three lectures and one laboratory period of three hours per week, plus one or two Saturday field trips.
  • Calculus I: A study of the basic concepts and techniques of calculus for students in all disciplines. Topics include limits, differentiation, integration, and applications. This course is intended for students without any previous calculus credit.
  • Introductory Statistics: An introductory course in statistical techniques and methods and their application to a variety of fields. Topics include data analysis, design of experiments, and statistical inference including confidence intervals and hypothesis testing. Exposure to statistical software and a substantive student project are also part of this course.
  • Accelerated Introductory Statistics: This course covers the same content and learning objectives as Statistics 131 but in half the time. This course, along with Statistics 202 and Statistics 203, also serves as preparation for Actuarial Exam SRM. Additionally this course, along with Statistics 202, Statistics 203, Statistics 220 and Statistics 352, serves as preparation for Actuarial Exam MAS I. Offered first half of spring semester.

See the course catalog for more information.

Minor Options

Noyce Scholars Program

Environmental Studies students can also learn to teach STEM subjects at the secondary or post-secondary level. The Dordt Noyce Scholars Program has been established to encourage STEM students to consider a teaching profession.

Noyce Scholars receive $15,000 scholarships each year to support their progress toward teaching licensure in a STEM field.

Ready to take the next step?

Science and Technology Center

As an environmental studies major, you'll have the opportunity to spend time in Dordt's Science and Technology Center. Informally known as the "Science Building," the Science and Technology Center is home to a lab devoted to work in environmental studies.

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A front exterior view of the Science and Technology Center

Student Stories

Dordt students and alumni use their gifts to make a difference in the world. Check out their stories to see how Defender Nation lives out our mission to work effectively toward Christ-centered renewal in all aspects of contemporary life.

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