Environmental Studies

Study the physical, biological, and social aspects of humans and our interaction with the environment

Increasing population, technological demands, and the continued quest for a higher standard of living impose expanding demands on finite global resources. As an Environmental Studies student, you'll study the effects of these stresses on the Earth and its inhabitants in the classroom, field, and laboratories.

School

Campus Locations

Main Campus - Alfred, NY

Major

Environmental Studies (BA)

Minor

Environmental Studies

Independent Research Projects

All our majors engage in independent undergraduate research projects as part of the Environmental Studies program. The topics of these projects vary greatly, depending on the interests of the students. We firmly believe that students learn by “doing” and incorporate hands-on, interactive learning in virtually all of our courses.

Industry-Leading Equipment

All students have access to a vast array of state-of-the-art field, laboratory, and computer equipment within the Environmental Studies Division as well as the other science and engineering departments on campus. This makes Alfred University's undergraduate program one of the best equipped in the country.

Internships & Research Assistantships

Faculty routinely hire undergraduates as interns or research assistants in the summer, allowing students to get even more experience with research projects and instrumentation. All these experiences prepare students for a variety of career opportunities and post-graduate education in fields related to the environment.

Water Analysis Equipment

Our labs are equipped with the following: ion chromatograph, atomic absorption spectrophotometer, capillary zone electrophoresis instrumentation.

Soil Analysis Equipment

We employ the following equipment for soil analysis: compaction meter, soil moisture collectors, various microscopes, extensive wet-laboratory equipment.

Field Sampling & Analysis

Featuring: “Hydrolab” for analyzing a variety of water parameters; sediment and water samplers, including two automated, programmable water samplers; flow meters; field dissolved oxygen, pH, and electrical conductivity meters; two boats.

GIS Equipment

The division features a fully-equipped Geographic Information Systems (GIS) laboratory complete with two sub-meter scale Global Positioning Systems units, a dedicated GIS specialist, a 36-inch color plotter, and the latest version of the most frequently used GIS software.

In addition to fulfilling the requirements of the major in Environmental Studies, as well as the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences general education requirements, you'll be required to complete the College's First Year Experience Program or Transfer Student Program.

Requirements for the Minor:

  • ENVS 101 Environmental Studies I – Natural Science
  • ENVS 102 Environmental Studies II – Social Science
  • ENVS 240 Environmental Research Procedures I
  • ENVS 241 Environmental Research Procedures II

Plus, 8 credits of electives, selected by the student and minor advisor, chosen from the lists of natural science and social science electives and integrated to meet the student’s objectives in environmental study.

Core Courses:

  • ENVS 101 Environmental Studies I – Natural Science
  • ENVS 102 Environmental Studies II – Social Science
  • ENVS 205 Environmental Data Analysis
  • ENVS 206 Fieldcraft-Outdoor Proficiency
  • ENVS 220 Introduction to GIS
  • ENVS 240 Environmental Research Procedures I
  • ENVS 241 Environmental Research Procedures II
  • ENVS 360 Junior Seminar
  • ENVS 415 Natural Resource Management
  • ENVS 440 Environmental Research Planning
  • ENVS 490 Senior Seminar
  • ENVS 499 Senior Year Project
  • POLS 214 Politics and Environment

Breadth (choose one course from among the following):

  • BIOL 150 Biological Foundations
  • CHEM 105 General Chemistry I
  • GEOL 101 This Dynamic Earth
  • PHYS 111 Introductory General Physics I
    or PHYS 125 Physics I

(choose two courses from among the following):

  • ANTH 110 Cultural Anthropology
  • ANTH 310 Cultural Anthropology and Disease
  • ECON 201 Principles of Microeconomics
  • ECON 312 Environmental Economics
  • ENGL 293 Writers Gone Wild: Literature and the Environment
  • ENVS 201 Environmentalism
  • ENVS 204 Environmental History
  • ENVS 245 Spirituality and the Environment
  • HIST 308 Americans and Their Environment
  • PHIL 281 Ethics
  • POLS 345 International Environmental Politics
  • POLS 411 Bureaucracy

Natural Science emphasis electives (three courses - at least 11 credits - from among those listed, with no more than two 100-level courses):

  • BIOL 322 Botany
  • BIOL 354 Ecology
  • BIOL 356 Aquatic Ecology
  • CHEM 106 General Chemistry II
  • CHEM 310 Basic Organic Chemistry
    or CHEM 315 Organic Chemistry I
  • CHEM 316 Organic Chemistry II
  • CHEM 321 Introduction to Analytical Chemistry
  • ENVS 300 Special Topics
  • ENVS 330 Ornithology
  • ENVS 320 Advanced GIS Applications
  • ENVS 351 Environmental Biogeochemistry
  • ENVS 357 Conservation Biology
  • GEOL 201 Surficial Geology
  • GEOL 301 Structural Geology
  • GEOL 307 Stratigraphy and Sedimentation
  • GEOL 464 Hydrogeology
  • PHYS 112 Introductory General Physics II
    or PHYS 126 Physics II

Core Courses:

  • ENVS 101 Environmental Studies I – Natural Science
  • ENVS 102 Environmental Studies II – Social Science
  • ENVS 205 Environmental Data Analysis
    or POLS/SOCI 230 Introductory Data Analysis and Statistics
    or PSYC 220 Psychological Methods & Statistics
    or BUSI 113 Business Statistics
  • ENVS 206 Fieldcraft – Outdoor Proficiency
  • ENVS 220 Introduction to GIS
  • ENVS 240 Environmental Research Procedures I
  • ENVS 241 Environmental Research Procedures II
  • ENVS 360 Junior Seminar
  • ENVS 440 Environmental Research Planning
  • ENVS 490 Senior Seminar
  • ENVS 499 Senior Year Project
  • ENVS 415 Natural Resources Management
  • POLS 214 Politics and Environment

Breadth (choose one course from among the following):

  • BIOL 150 Biological Foundations
  • CHEM 105 General Chemistry I
  • GEOL 101 This Dynamic Earth
  • PHYS 111 Introductory General Physics I
    or PHYS 125 Physics I

Social Science emphasis electives (16 credits from among the following):

  • ANTH 110 Cultural Anthropology
  • ANTH 310 Cultural Anthropology and Disease
  • ECON 201 Principles of Microeconomics
  • ECON 202 Principles of Macroeconomics
  • ECON 312 Environmental Economics
  • ENGL 293 Writers Gone Wild: Literature and the Environment
  • ENVS 201 Environmentalism
  • ENVS 204 Environmental History
  • ENVS 245 Spirituality and the Environment
  • ENVS 320 Advanced GIS Applications
  • HIST 308 Americans and Their Environment
  • PHIL 281 Ethics
  • POLS 313 State and Local Politics
  • POLS 411 Bureaucracy
  • PSYC 282 Social Psychology

Core Courses:

  • ENVS 101 Environmental Studies I – Natural Science
  • ENVS 102 Environmental Studies II – Social Science
  • ENVS 205 Environmental Data Analysis
  • ENVS 206 Fieldcraft – Outdoor Proficiency
  • ENVS 220 Introduction to GIS
  • ENVS 240 Environmental Research Procedures I
  • ENVS 241 Environmental Research Procedures II
  • ENVS 360 Junior Seminar
  • ENVS 440 Environmental Research Planning
  • ENVS 490 Senior Seminar
  • ENVS 499 Senior Year Project
  • MATH 151 Calculus I

Breadth (choose four courses from among the following):

  • BIOL 150 Biological Foundations
  • CHEM 105 General Chemistry I
  • CHEM 106 General Chemistry II
  • GEOL 101 This Dynamic Earth
  • MATH 152 Calculus II
  • PHYS 111 Introductory General Physics I
    or PHYS 125 Physics I
  • PHYS 112 Introductory General Physics II
    or PHYS 126 Physics II

Depth: (three courses - at least 11 credits - from among those listed)

  • BIOL 322 Botany
  • BIOL 354 Ecology
  • BIOL 356 Aquatic Ecology
  • CHEM 310 Basic Organic Chemistry
    or CHEM 315 Organic Chemistry
  • CHEM 321 Introduction to Analytical Chemistry
  • ENVS 300 Special Topics
  • ENVS 330 Ornithology
  • ENVS 357 Conservation Biology
  • ENVS 320 Advanced GIS Applications
  • ENVS 351 Environmental Biogeochemistry
  • GEOL 201 Surficial Geology
  • GEOL 464 Hydrogeology

All talks are 12:20 to 1:10 on Fridays in Roon Lecture Hall (Room 247) of the Science Center. Everyone is welcome and refreshments will be served.

Sept 7 "Weaving from Waste: Entrepreneurship as a Tool for Social and Environmental Impact in
Holyoke, MA" Katy Moonan, Founder and Director of Artesana

Sept 14 "Our Formula for Making Industries from Automotive to Mining Want to Be Green"
Mark Shelton, President, Shelton Associates Inc. AU class of 1993

Sept 21 “What Do Indigenous and Local Cultures Tell Us About Conserving and Restoring
Ecosystems?” Stewart A.W. Diemont, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Environmental and Forest Biology,
SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry

Sept 28 “Secondary and Byproduct Sources of Rare Earth Metals” Gabrielle Gaustad, Associate Professor, RIT AU Class of 2004, Dean Designate Inamori School of Engineering

Oct 5 "Meet the Americans Who Still Don’t Have Clean, Running Water" George McGraw, Founder, Executive Director of DigDeep

*** No seminar Oct 12 due to Mid-Semester Break 

Oct 19 “Business Sustainability: Essential Key to Creating Value and Future Business Success”
John Cusack, Founder of Gifford Park Associates, Adjunct Professor, College of Business, Alfred University

Oct 26 “Trees Are for Cutting” Garrett Stephens, Staff Supervisor and Lead Forester, Jefferson Conservation District

Nov 2 “Life and Death of Trees on the Dry Forest Edge” Henry Adams, Assistant Professor, Department of Plant Biology, Ecology and Evolution Oklahoma State University, AU Class 1999

Nov 9 “Environmental Issues at Airports” Jane Herndon, Manager of Environmental Programs for the Aviation Department of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey

Nov 16 “How Do We Stop Using Petroleum?" Arunas Chesonis, Chairman and CEO of Sweetwater Energy

Nov 30 "Climate Change, Partisan Politics and the Future of the Adirondacks" Joe Henderson, Ph.D., faculty member in the Environment and Society Department, Paul Smiths College


Information about the Speakers

Katy Moonan

Katy Moonan is the founder and director of ArteSana, a non-profit social enterprise that expands opportunities for women impacted by systemic inequalities in Holyoke, MA, by weaving from reclaimed textiles. A passionate advocate for community-led development, creativity and sustainability, Katy was a 2012 Fulbright recipient, a 2014 National Arts Strategies Creative Communities Fellow, a 2016 SPARK Entrepreneurship program graduate, and a 2017 Fellow with The Coaching Fellowship focused on propelling women leaders. Outside of her work with ArteSana she is a communications and fundraising consultant to nonprofits and an enthusiastic cat mom. Katy grew up in Mexico but now calls Western Massachusetts home. She graduated from Smith College in 2012 with a degree in Government and Postcolonial Studies.


Mark Shelton

Mark Shelton is a 1993 graduate of Alfred University with a degree in Environmental Studies and Political Science. He completed his graduate work at Penn State University. Hi wife Heather is also a 1993 AU grad (ceramic engineer), and they have 4 children: Michaela (Ithaca 2015), Conner (U of Delaware 2021), Owen and Quinn. Mark is currently owner of Shelton Associates, Separation Engineering, Treatment Technologies, Nanodyne Labs, and Water Liquidation. Board member of Markel Corporation. All of these companies deal specifically with the treatment and recovery of liquids, with an emphasis in the automotive, mining, oil and gas, and food and beverage industries. They currently have offices in Pennsylvania, Florida, California, and in the United Kingdom.


Stewart Diemont

Stewart Diemont is an Associate Professor in the Department of Environmental and Forest Biology at the State University of New York, College of Environmental Science and Forestry. He works with indigenous and local people to better understand how traditional knowledge can be part of ecosystem design. With his students and the people of the communities in which he works, he has studied soil, plants, fungi, insects, and birds, as well as talked extensively with community members. He has worked with Mayan communities in Mexico, Belize and Guatemala; Zapotec in Mexico; Haudenosaunee of New York; and with traditional vineyard growers in Europe. His ecosystem design focuses on connecting people with place. He is interested in how food can be a part of ecosystem restoration in cities and rural areas.


Gabrielle Gaustad

Gabrielle Gaustad is a 2004 Alfred University graduate and Dean Designate of the Inamori School of Engineering. For the past 10 years, she has been on the faculty at the Rochester Institute of Technology in New York. Most recently, Dr. Gaustad was an associate professor and program coordinator for the master’s degree program of the Golisano Institute for Sustainability at the Rochester Institute of Technology. Dr. Gaustad is a strong advocate for increasing opportunities for women in engineering. Dr. Gaustad teaches courses in multicriteria decision analysis, sustainable building metrics, and applied programming. She conducts research exploring the environmental and economic trade‐offs of recycling. A graduate of Alfred University with a degree in ceramic engineering, Dr. Gaustad holds a master’s degree and a Ph.D. in materials science and engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.


George McGraw

George McGraw runs DigDeep in Los Angeles, which he founded. DigDeep is the only global water organization working in the U.S. -- empowering the millions of Americans without running water or basic plumbing to build and manage their own water systems, including the award-winning Navajo Water Project. George is an avid speaker, writer and university lecturer. He has been published by the New York Times, the Nation and several law reviews; he has been profiled by NPR, Vice and CBS News, and he has spoken at events hosted by the Clinton Foundation, WeDay, the World YMCA, and Ford. George was recently named one of the 17 "Local Globalists" by the UN Foundation and is a member of Nexus. He has a master’s degree in International Law and Conflict Management from the United Nations University for Peace in Costa Rica.


John Cusack

John Cusack is the founder of Gifford Park Associates, which develops and implements innovative strategies for integrating sustainability into multinational businesses and financial firms, addressing key financially material sustainability and reputational value issues such as climate, clean energy, energy efficiency, climate adaption & resilience, water, green bonds, green buildings, supply chain, and publically-reported sustainable metrics. He has a BCE in Civil Engineering & a MCE in Environmental Engineering & Science from Manhattan College, an MBA with concentrations in finance and management from New York University, and is a registered Professional Engineer in New York State. He teaches as an adjunct professor undergraduate and MBA courses on sustainable finance and ethics at the Hagen School of Business at Iona College, and at MBA, Science and Engineering programs at Alfred University, Bard College, Marylhurst University, Stevens Institute of Technology and SUNY-Purchase.


Garrett Stephens

Garrett grew up and went to college in Greenville IL (BS Environmental Biology 2008; Greenville College). During and after college, he worked seasonal jobs in natural resources and outdoor leadership in the West and Midwest. In 2011, Garrett started a Master’s program in Ecology at Colorado State University. Since graduating in 2014, he has been working for Jefferson Conservation District doing private lands forest management.


Henry Adams

Henry Adams is a 1999 Alfred University graduate. Henry is a plant ecologist broadly interested in global change ecology, and specifically in forest response to climate-related disturbances. The primary focus of his research has been the physiological processes of how trees die from drought, their sensitivity to temperature, interactions with pests and pathogens, and the consequences of forest disturbance. His research has applications for improving prediction of climate change and its effects on forests. Henry is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Plant Biology, Ecology, and Evolution at Oklahoma State University. He earned a BA in Biology and Environmental Studies from Alfred University (Alfred, NY) in 1999, an MS in Forestry at Northern Arizona University (Flagstaff, AZ) in 2003, and a PhD in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Arizona (Tucson, AZ) in 2012, and was a postdoctoral fellow at Los Alamos National Laboratory in the Earth and Environmental Sciences Division (2012-2015).


Jane Herndon

Jane Herndon is the Manager of Environmental Programs for the Aviation Department of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. In this role, Jane assists the Port Authority’s five airports (John F. Kennedy International Airport, LaGuardia Airport, Newark Liberty International Airport, Teterboro Airport, and Stewart New York International Airport) with compliance with environmental laws and obtaining state and federal environmental approvals for new airport development projects;, develop and implement policies to promote sustainable operations; and lead Port Authority’s efforts to address aircraft-related noise at the 5 airports.


Arunas Chesonis

Arunas Chesonis is a successful entrepreneur and experienced early-stage technology investor. He founded and grew PAETEC Corp. to a Fortune 1000 public company with over $2 billion in annual revenues with 5,500 employees. Sold in 2011 for $2.3 billion enterprise value. Member of the MIT Corporation and Life Trustee of the University of Rochester. Managing Director of Cranberry Capital (family office) which has invested in 6 MIT (cleantech) and 3 University of Rochester (life sciences) companies in the last eight years. Currently, Chairman and CEO of Sweetwater Energy, Inc., an early stage technology company based in Rochester, New York. Holds a B.S. in Civil Engineering from Massachusetts Institute of Technology, an MBA from the William E. Simon Graduate School of Business at the University of Rochester, and an Honorary Doctorate of Laws from the University of Rochester.


Joe Henderson

Dr. Joseph Henderson is a faculty member in the Environment & Society Department at Paul Smith’s College in the Adirondacks. Trained as an anthropologist of environmental and science education, his research investigates how sociocultural, political, and geographic factors influence teaching and learning in emerging energy and climate systems. He is currently working on a book about teaching climate change in the United States.

Environmental Studies graduates have found interesting and rewarding employment in a wide range of
careers. The experience and qualifications acquired throughout their studies, research projects and
internships enable graduates to work as environmental professionals in government regulatory
departments, in private industry, and with private environmental consulting firms. Many of our graduates
continue on to graduate school.

Examples of recent graduates include:

  • Top Secret – Defense Intelligence Agency
  • Environmental Technician – Ravi Engineering Kenai Chache
  • Project Geologist – D.W. Kozera, Inc.
  • Jr. Environmental Analyst – SAIC
  • Environmental Health & Safety – Colgate University
  • Environmental Scientist – Haley’s Aldrich
  • Inventory Arborist- Davey Resource Group
  • Naturalist & Environmental Educator – Shaver’s Creek Environmental Center
  • Environmental Affairs Assistant – Environmental Health & Safety, University of Nevada
  • Environmental Coordinator – C&W Environmental
  • Landscape Superintendent – L.C. Whitford Co.
  • Field Tech Inspector – Dresser Rand/C.M.E.
  • Lead Technician – University of Arizona, National Park Service
  • Water Quality Analyst – Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection

Faculty / Staff

Facilities

In addition to labs and classroom on our campus, Alfred University offers Environmental Studies students access to facilities off-campus. A hydrologic field laboratory, consisting of seven groundwater wells, which is fully instrumented to measure and record water levels, temperature, electrical conductivity, pressure, etc. is highly regarded in the study of hydrology and related fields. Additionally, Foster Lake, a 223-acre property consisting of the lake and surrounding forest, is used as a field laboratory for Environmental Studies classes and student research.

Similar Programs

Students interested in Alfred University's Environmental Studies major my consider a minor or double major in the following related programs:

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