Environmental Studies

Chair: Professor MacFall

Professors: Kingston, Touchette, Weston

Associate Professors: Charest, DiRosa, Kirk, Redington, Spray, Vandermast, Xiao

Assistant Professor: Chunco

Lecturers: Moore, Strickland

Adjunct Professors: Amaral, Deininger, Dorsett, Hoban, Thomas-Laemont, Moersdorf

It has become clear that environmental challenges are not isolated. The quality of our water, the air we breathe,  the integrity of our coasts and the health of our forests shape the world in which we live. Elon University guides students to meet the challenges of today and to become creative and visionary stewards who will lead us to the sustainable communities of tomorrow. In our degree programs, students take a balanced, interdisciplinary core of classes grounded in environmental understanding. The core is supported by advanced disciplinary and transdisciplinary courses in the humanities, social sciences and natural sciences that focus on the environment. The strength of the curriculum emerges from its interdisciplinary perspective — for example, discussing water resource issues in geography, physics, biology, political science, ethics and environmental science classes. The course of study culminates in a capstone senior seminar, in which students develop a community-based project such as designing a river protection plan. Students are also required to complete an internship or independent research experience. They are eligible to apply for the Elon College Fellows Program, the Elon University Honors Program, or the Elon University Lumen Prize.

The Department of Environmental Studies offers a major in Environmental and Sustainability Studies (A.B. degree), a major in Environmental Studies (B.S. degree), a major in Environmental and Ecological Science degree (B.S. degree), and a minor in Environmental and Sustainability Studies. Each of the degrees has been designed to meet the needs of students pursuing different career paths.

  • The BS Environmental Studies degree prepares students whose professional aspirations are in environmental stewardship within the framework of complex social systems, human values, and natural sciences. Built upon a trans-disciplinary foundation spanning policy studies, economics, ethics and environmental science, students will develop the necessary skills in project management, stakeholder analysis, and multi-method analysis to address societal needs and concerns involving the environment.
  • The A.B. degree in Environmental and Sustainability Studies is designed for students who wish to combine their interest in the environment with additional disciplinary training in another field of study through a second major or minor to support a wide variety of careers or graduate programs. The A.B. degree provides a foundation in the humanities, the social sciences, and the natural sciences, and advanced study in one of three applied focus areas (responsible design and building arts, sustainable food production, or human ecology) to support students interested in green design, architecture, sustainable food systems management, corporate sustainability, environmental communications, environmental economics, environmental art, and international environmental development.
  • The B.S. degree in Environmental and Ecological Science includes advanced study of ecological processes for those students who are specifically interested in environmental science careers in ecosystem management, wildlife ecology, conservation biology and environmental monitoring. The minor in Environmental and Sustainability Studies was developed for students with a major in another field of study who have an interest in developing their understanding of sustainability and the environment.

University Center for Environmental Studies

A center has been established with the mission of providing a regional focus for activities and interests that meet the environmental needs of the community in the Piedmont Region of North Carolina. The Center’s activities have focused on developing community partnerships with Elon students and faculty working on environmentally focused projects. Recent project partners have included the Piedmont Land Conservancy, the Natural Resource Conservation Service, the National Park Service, N.C. Parks and Recreation, local governments and industries. These partnerships have provided research and internship opportunities, providing real world opportunities to students and strengthening their personal and professional development.

Environmental Education Center at Loy Farm
The Elon Environmental Education Center at Loy Farm (EECLF) demonstrates the integration of food production, the natural environment, and the built environment. Loy Farm plays host to a number of Environmental Studies classes and serves as a major component of the department’s experiential education program. Its programs and resources include food and farming systems, the responsible architecture program, a restored Piedmont prairie ecosystem, a long-term ecological research area, and a solar farm with nearly 10,000 photovoltaic panels to generate enough electricity to power about 415 homes. The education facilities of the EECLF include a high tunnel greenhouse facility, row crops and raised beds, an heirloom apple orchard, an apiary, a pole barn with areas for food processing and tool storage, a design build container studio equipped with hand and table power tools for building construction, an outdoor classroom situated in a wooded area, and another container building which houses a project staging area, shower, and restroom

Elon Forest
The Elon forest is the largest remaining tract of intact forest (56 acres) in the Town of Elon which is home to thousands of species of plants, animals, fungi, and other organisms. Some trees in the hardwood sections of Elon Forest, which make up more than 50 percent of the property, are estimated to be 150-200 years old. About 40 percent of the area is pine forest planted on an old farm field about 50 years ago. The forest represents an outdoor laboratory and undergraduate research site for the Biology and Environmental Studies Departments.

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