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Environmental Studies Minor

As an environmental studies minor, 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% career outcome rate. That means our students leave Dordt ready to make an impact in the field, both through their skills and their faith.

A class after the prairie controlled burn

What You'll Learn

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.

What You Can Do With An Environmental Studies Minor

What you learn as an environmental studies minor can prepare you for success in any career. Possessing a better understanding of who we are as humans and how we live and thrive in this world can supplement nearly any major you pursue. You’ll have the tools you need to pursue careers in your major as well as different teaching, biology, ecology, and economic careers.

Environmental Educator

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

Environmental Consultant

Environmental Consultants provide evaluation and services that help with the management of environmental issues.

Environmental Policy Analyst

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

To earn an environmental studies minor, students will need to complete five required environmental studies courses in addition to three electives from various pre-approved courses in the agriculture, biology, political science, theology, and environmental studies programs. This coursework includes field work and at least two credit hours of course 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. Designed to be taken by environmental studies majors concurrently with Environmental Studies 161.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • God’s Green Earth: 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.
  • Economics of Natural Resources and the Environment: A study of economic aspects of Christian stewardship in relation to the environment and use of natural resources. Major topics include biblical norms on creation, property rights, economic justice, the economic dimensions of current environmental problems and trends in resource use, institutions and social structures that affect environmental policy, economic theories related to resource use and environmental quality, and evaluation of current and proposed policies from a Christian point of view.
  • Public Policy: Provides a general introduction to the public policy process in the United States, including an exploration of the socioeconomic and cultural context, the defining characteristics of the political system, and various phases in the policy process. Special attention is given to selected policy issues such as energy and the environment, criminal justice, poverty, health care, and immigration.
  • Christian Ethics: What does it mean to pursue the good life and how do we so as faithful disciples of Christ? What do we owe to God, neighbor, stranger, and enemy? Answers to these questions are more difficult to come by than we might expect – or hope. We live in a world rife with sin, corruption, and moral disagreement. Even faithful Christians can arrive at profoundly different moral judgments about life in the church and the world. This course aims to equip students with theological and ethical tools that they can use to reflect critically on what it means to live faithfully in contemporary society.
  • Christian Mind and Heart: In conversation with great thinkers of the past, we will discuss the biblical foundation for Reformed thinking, the responsibility of humans to fulfill our mission as image-bearers in God’s world, and the development of a Reformed world and life view for actual Christian thinking and living. Students will explore significant issues of Christian life through personal and group projects that engage particular aspects of their major studies or life vision.

See the course catalog for more information.

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Science and Technology Center

As an environmental studies 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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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.

A picture of a man with a green shirt standing in Dordt's prairie

Experiences Key to a Career

Steve Nugteren

Steve's appreciation for the outdoors as a child led him to graduate Dordt with a degree in Environmental Science

Steve Nugteren

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Balancing Freedom with Mutual Responsibility

Eric Van Dyken

Dordt graduate Eric shows his love for the environment

Eric Van Dyken

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The Nitty-Gritty Stuff

Shar Barendrecht Te Beest

Dordt graduate Shar explains her love for the environment

Shar Barendrecht Te Beest

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Getting Your Hands Dirty

Rob Ribbens

Rob Ribbens, County Soil Erosion Agent (and more)

Rob Ribbens

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