Environmental Studies

Chair: Professor MacFall

Professors: Kingston, Touchette, Weston

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

Lecturers: Moore, Strickland

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

Environmental Responsibility, Stewardship, Leadership

The Environmental Studies Department at Elon University embodies a transdisciplinary vision grounded in the ethical integration of the natural world and human systems. Our primary purpose is to prepare future environmental professionals and to graduate environmentally-engaged and sustainability-minded citizens. Students participate in a wide range of courses across the university with opportunities to engage in local, regional, and global environmental issues. In synergy with the Elon University Center for Environmental Studies, students engage in deep, meaningful experiential learning through class experiences, apprenticeships, internships, and research opportunities. As environmental challenges drive dramatic global change in the 21st Century, broadly-trained and imaginative problem-solvers will be crucial to shaping new and sustainable futures.

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, where students develop a community-based project such as designing a river conservation plan. Students will also 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. 

  • The BS Environmental Studies degree prepares students whose professional aspirations are in environmental stewardship within the framework of complex natural sciences, social systems, and human values. 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 and environmental systems for those students who are specifically interested in environmental science careers such as 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 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 areas, 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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