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Environmental Science Minor

Now more than ever, the world needs more passionate people who want to work in the field of environmental science. If this is something you feel called to, Dordt is a great place to learn.

With a prairie in your backyard, you’ll get the opportunity to study all sorts of plant species and more. Our dynamic professors, off-campus activities, and professional opportunities make Dordt the perfect environment for academic success.

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Program Overview

Study environmental science and learn to investigate and observe the environment around you. Take an array of classes such as chemistry and biology, gaining valuable research tools. And understand how God can use you to help the earth’s environment flourish.

When you minor in environmental science at Dordt, you’re setting yourself up for a career that allows you to share your passion for the environment with the world around you. That passion can be used to supplement any major you pursue. Along with an engaging and dynamic curriculum, you’ll have opportunities for internships and jobs in the field. You’ll also learn from high-level professors who are dedicated to helping you grow academically and spiritually through individual attention.

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What You'll Learn

Classes in the environmental science emphasis will prepare you for a career working in—and for—nature. You’ll learn about the importance of biology and chemistry as they relate to the environment. Courses will also touch on different areas such as stewardship, conservation, and environmental issues. When you graduate, you’ll be ready to make an impact in the workforce right away.

What You Can Do With An Environmental Science Minor

When it comes to an environmental science minor, you can use your minor to strengthen a career in whatever major you pursue. You can also choose from several environmental science-focused career options, including:

Environmental Scientist

Environmental Scientists protect the environment and human health through their knowledge and expertise of natural sciences.

Environmental Specialist

Environmental Specialists protect the environment and human health through their knowledge and expertise of natural sciences.

Sustainability Specialist

A Sustainability Specialist is tasked with implementing different programs that benefit their local community and environment.

To earn an accounting minor, students will need to complete six required environmental studies courses in addition to various electives chosen from pre-approved options in the agriculture, biology, and environmental studies programs. This coursework includes field work and at least three 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.
  • Environmental Chemistry: A study of the nature and transport of chemical species—both natural and human-introduced—in the natural environment (atmosphere, hydrosphere, geosphere, and biosphere). Three lectures per week.
  • Environmental Chemistry Laboratory: This lab will include methods of sampling and analysis of samples from natural and/or human influenced environments.
  • 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.
  • Agroecology: An introduction to the principles of agricultural ecology with an emphasis on Christian stewardship of God’s world. Topics include the development and characteristics of agroecosystems, ecological disturbance and succession, diversity, pest management, nutrient cycling, environmental quality, energy use, climate change, social capital, conservation practices, and global food production. The interaction of agroecosystems with surrounding ecosystems is studied, and the utilization of ecological principles in agroecosystem design and management are examined. Two lectures and one three-hour laboratory per week.
  • Agroecosystems Analysis: A field-based course in which students visit eight or more agroecosystems and work in teams to understand them, analyze them, and reflect on their sustainability. The course includes pre-class reading and writing assignments, eight intensive days of farm visits and analysis during the summer, and final written assignments due in September. It is a cooperative course involving students and faculty members from Dordt University, Iowa State University, the University of Minnesota, and the University of Nebraska. It provides Dordt students with a unique opportunity to engage the broader culture and to consider the implications of a Christian view of agroecosystems.
  • 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.
  • Nature and Properties of Soils: A comprehensive introduction to the field of soil science with an emphasis on scientific principles and their application in solutions to practical soil management problems. Two lectures and one three-hour laboratory per week.
  • Introductory Geology and Physical Geography: A general introduction to the physical nature and structure of the solid Earth, including, briefly, its physical geography and a more detailed look at its geology. The environmental implications of these subjects are detailed. Three lectures and one laboratory period of three hours per week plus one overnight field trip and one or two shorter trips.
  • Meteorology and Climate Change: Provides a general introduction to meteorology and weather. Climate and climate change in Quaternary times to the present are also considered. The implications of an anthropogenically enhanced greenhouse effect will be addressed, with particular attention given to the impact of these changes on the structure and function of ecosystems. Includes one or two field trips to relevant sites in the region.
  • 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. Prerequisite: sophomore standing or above.
  • Flora of North America: Welcome to the flora of North America! This is a course in field biology and taxonomy of vascular plants. Our study will focus on the native vegetation of the tall-grass prairie landscape with its associated gallery forests and wetlands. We will be comparing local studies to plant complexes from other geographic locations. Two lectures and one laboratory period per week. This course includes extensive field work and potentially several weekend field trips.
  • Avian Biology and Conservation: The identification, natural history, ecology, and stewardship of birds. Topics include morphological and physiological ecology of birds, habitat selection, communication, migration, reproductive ecology, territoriality, taxonomy, and conservation. The connections between avian ecology and creation stewardship will be explored. Recognition of a diverse set of birds by sight and sound is an important component of the course. Two lecture/discussion sessions and one three-hour lab per week. Field work will concentrate on local birds, but at least one trip to a distant site will be included.
  • Wildlife Ecology and Stewardship: Advanced examination of animal (especially terrestrial vertebrate) populations, communities, and habitats, particularly as such analysis is applied to the manipulation and exploitation of animal populations and communities to regulate their abundance and distribution and/or to restore them. Considerable exploration and critique of the development and practice of wildlife management, particularly as it compares to biblical principles for creation stewardship. Two lecture/discussion sessions and one three-hour lab per week. Additional activities include an overnight field trip and attending a wildlife conference.

See the course catalog for more information.

Ready to take the next step?

Science and Technology Center

As an environmental science minor, 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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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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The Nitty-Gritty Stuff

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