Environmental Science & Policy Overview

Our Environmental Science & Policy program is designed to provide students with the theoretical and experiential foundation that prepares them for either graduate school or employment in environmental occupations in both public and private sectors.

The program of study begins with an introductory course, followed by a selection of courses chosen from a wide variety of offerings including anthropology, biology, chemistry, economics, geology, history, physics, political science, philosophy, and other relevant courses. Particular departments also may advise students to take courses relevant to the minor as part of the major requirements.

In addition to the curriculum, our location on the western edge of the Catskill Mountains near the headwaters of the Susquehanna River is favorable for field-based study of many ecosystems. Students in the program benefit from the Robert R. Smith Environmental Field Station on Hartwick’s Pine Lake Environmental Campus, which has access to over 2,000 acres of mixed deciduous forests, lakes, swamps, and streams and is only eight miles from the main campus. Students interested in the minor should consult with one of the Co-Coordinators of the ES&P program.

Sustainability addresses the question of how humans can achieve a mode of life that meets our needs to survive in a way that can be continued indefinitely without destroying natural ecosystems and their biodiversity. This has become an important topic in environmental studies, and is an example of how environmental science and policy can be applied to solve an important environmental problem.

Because the human population as a whole is probably not at a sustainable level in terms of both size and resource utilization, sustainability is not just an area of study but also is an area of political, social, and economic action and community service. Not surprisingly, the concept of sustainability has different philosophical and practical implications, and so currently is somewhat controversial.

Different interpretations of sustainability range from “very weak sustainability,” which minimizes the amount of change required to achieve true sustainability, to “very strong sustainability,” which sees true sustainability as a goal that can be achieved only with radical changes in human activity. Reconciliation of these differences will depend in large part on a better understanding of environmental science and policy.

The study of environmental science and policy prepares students for careers in industry, consulting, research, and academics, as well as federal, state, and local government and many other areas. The Hartwick College program prepares you for further graduate study, which often is required for many of these professions. Working in the field of environmental science provides a wide variety of subjects and problems to challenge and expand your skills, as well as the satisfaction of knowing you are helping to improve the quality of our lives and of the planet.

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