+ Environmental Studies – Hobart and William Smith Colleges \

Environmental Studies

Earth's environment is maintained through complex feedback mechanisms which, over geologic time, have created an environment replete with myriad life forms and incredible biological, geological, and cultural diversity. Humans have always affected their environment, but since industrialization, the nature and scope of human impact has increased dramatically.

Our current use of natural resources is spiraling due to consumption-based economies and increasing demand by humans for necessities such as food, energy, and fresh water. Human activities have led to widespread air, water, and soil pollution, and set in motion long-term and troubling changes in our climate, new extinctions, unsustainable patterns of resource extraction and waste creation. Poverty and racism further exacerbate resource access disparities and threaten the livelihoods and survival of many humans around the world.

Environmental concerns will be with us for generations as we work toward a more sustainable way of life. The Environmental Studies program structures a liberal arts education around these concerns and prepares students for entry-level positions, as well as graduate study, in fields related to environment and sustainability.

Student Resources

Student Profile:
Isabella Pardales ’21

Isabella Pardales '21

Major: Environmental Studies and Studio Art double major

“I've grown up under the presence of global warming and am part of a generation that has inherited an unsustainable energy system. It seems natural to major in Environmental Studies as I am learning the skills necessary to approach the complex environmental problems our world faces in a multidisciplinary way. The program allows you to take classes across different disciplines and develop an academic path that is specific to your own passions. My focus is on food systems, public policy and law.

HIST 151: Food Systems in History was a particularly influential class for me because it taught me the ways in which our daily food choices can impact ecosystems, social equity, cultural diversity and food security. The food system is something we all take part in and rely on. However, it lacks resilience, inclusiveness and transparency. It sparked an interest for me in how food systems of the future can be used to solve environmental, social, and economic problems.”

Meet Our Faculty

The Environmental Studies faculty stem from natural science, social science and humanities backgrounds. Through field-based coursework and research collaborations with the faculty, you will gain exciting new knowledge from experts in the discipline. Scroll below to meet our team of scientists, scholars, innovators and above all, dedicated teachers. Meet the entire department >

Environmental Studies News

Presenting Finger Lakes Fieldwork
Aquatic Science Students Present Their Research
Dwyer ’23 Earns Goldwater Scholarship
More Environmental Studies News
Sustainable Community Development

Sustainable Community Development

Sustainable Community Development (SCD) is an interdisciplinary program that integrates curricular and experiential components in architectural studies, economics, environmental studies and sustainability. The program aims to familiarize students with the concept of sustainable development as applied to real world communities. Learn more about the SCD minor.

Sample Courses

Class Complete Course List

ENV 200 Environmental Science
This course focuses on the science behind, and plausible scientific solutions, to pressing environmental issues like population growth, ecosystems, exotic species, resource use, e.g., soil, mineral, water and energy resources, and the impact of their use on the planet, i.e., global warming, acid rain, pollution, toxicity, and waste disposal.

Environmental Studies Summer Youth Institute

The Environmental Studies Summer Youth Institute (ESSYI) is a two-week, college-level interdisciplinary summer program for talented high-school students entering their junior and senior years. ESSYI introduces students to environmental issues and interdisciplinary techniques for addressing environmental problems. Students make new intellectual and emotional connections as they explore current environmental challenges through scientific, social, economic, philosophical, ethical, and political perspectives. Learn more about ESSYI.

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