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Environmental studies major receives makeover

Students of Graduate Teaching Assistant Benjamin Coyle work together to take measurements of the Chippewa River during their Biology 110 Lab in the Viet's-Dow Woods on September 22, 2015. Calli Morris | Staff Photographer

Major concentrations in Environmental Policy and Environmental Science have been or is currently being revised in an effort to make completion of the courses easier for students. Changes for the program were put into place this fall 2015 semester.

The Environmental Policy Concentration is under the Department of Geography in the College of Science and Technology. The Department of Earth and Atmospheric Science is currently revising the Environmental Science Concentration.

According to the requirements outlined in the 2014-2015 bulletin, students within this program would have had to complete all core class requirements, a six weeks of a full time Internship Program, earn a minimum 2.7 GPA and choose a second major in a similar field.

The changes made to the Environmental Policy major are considered to improve the major by reducing the time of completion by removing all hidden prerequisites from the program and the requirement of a double major.

It is now reasonable to complete the program in 4 years, which was difficult under the previous program said chairperson of the department of geography David Patton,

"We wanted to improve rigor in basic sciences by requiring basic coursework in earth science, biology, chemistry, statistics and requiring a capstone course in which students will complete an individualized research project," Patton said. "We also wanted to provide more structure to choosing electives, and by doing so, provide students an opportunity to focus on specialized areas like environmental health, policy or geographic information science."

The changes made to the Environmental Studies major do not include an internship any longer, as well as the requirement of a double major, but it does still require students to pick a concentration within the major.

The major is still considered an interdisciplinary program, meaning it draws from many other different programs like political science, geology, chemistry, geography, and biology.

"Studying environmental science is very versatile," said Livonia junior Bridget Byrne. "It gives you the option to study policy, conservation, or the science behind the environment. It's cool because you can do virtually anything with it, even politics, community organizing or research."

The major has become increasingly popular due to the rise in concern for climate change, population growth and environmental damage.

What interested Oakland Township senior Tim Minotas in the program was the ability to apply what he learned in the classroom into real world issues. 

"There are a lot of issues regarding energy demands and habitat loss that we see in today's world and these issues have become increasingly important to our very survival," Minotas said. "I want to be apart of the solution to addressing these issues. Without a healthy and favorable environment, we would not be here."

Students are also able to get experience in the field by participating in field trips and taking classes with outdoor lab sessions. Minotas says being able to spend time in nature and learn at the same time is his favorite thing about the major.

The new changes do not effect students who signed their Environmental Studies: Environmental Policy Concentration prior to the fall 2015 semester. Students who have signed the old major may choose to sign the new version, though it is not required. Some of the classes that were once required are no longer necessary but may be transferable by the student's advisor.

For more information concerning the major change, students are encouraged to get in contact with their own academic advisor.