Chatham University

Chatham University
Environmental Studies

“The world we have created today…has problems which cannot be solved by thinking the way we thought when we created them.”
-Albert Einstein

Our prosperity, livelihood and spiritual existence depend upon clean air, pure water, a diverse array of plants and animals, a protective atmosphere, and freedom from harmful chemicals. In other words, we depend upon our natural resources. Yet, we are conducting an unprecedented experiment by placing ecological systems in jeopardy. We are only beginning to understand the consequences of this experiment, which is one of the most pressing intellectual and social challenges facing society today.

One of the first individuals to effectively communicate this environmental situation was a Chatham University alumna, Rachel Carson, through her groundbreaking book Silent Spring, which formed the foundation for the modern environmental movement in the U.S. In the spirit of Rachel Carson and as part of our dedication to creating environmentally-aware students and citizens, Chatham University offers an environmental major and minor as well as an environmental education teaching certificate.

Goals and Mission

The main goals of the Environmental Studies (ENV) program are to inform students about the state of the local and global environment, and to provide tools to become personal and professional leaders in combating environmental problems. The ENV program is flexible, allowing students to make Environmental Studies the focus of their degrees or incorporate ENV as a minor. Environmental Studies stands at the intersection of many diverse fields – such as biology, chemistry, economics, English, and political science – bound together by a focus on the impact of humankind on ecological systems. The diverse faculty involved in the program share a commitment to addressing environmental issues in a holistic manner. The program is closely connected with Chatham’s Rachel Carson Institute to ensure that the outreach, education and advocacy agenda of the environmental movement is strongly linked with courses.

Students complete a common core of courses and experiences which focus on experiential and service-learning as well as building environmental literacy, multidisciplinary problem-solving skills, and a community of environmentally-oriented students and faculty. All students also complete an internship or service-learning project to ensure that classroom knowledge is translated into practical experience. Students majoring in environmental studies also complete a concentration in policy & advocacy, science (B.A. or B.S.), or literature & writing. A year-long senior research project is the “capstone” experience for ENV majors.

The Environmental Studies program reflects Chatham’s commitment to the ideals espoused by Rachel Carson (a Chatham alumna), and is closely linked with Chatham’s Rachel Carson Institute. Students leave the program with an understanding and appreciation of the natural world, the interconnectedness between social and natural systems, and tools for making positive contributions to environmental sustainability.

Rachel Carson
Rachel Carson,
author of Silent Spring and Chatham alumna