All Natural

Environmental sciences degree program provides plenty of hands-on learning opportunities.

Environmental sciences degree program provides plenty
of hands-on learning opportunities.

Longwood’s integrated environmental sciences degree has been approved by the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia (SCHEV), the commonwealth’s coordinating body for higher education.

The undergraduate program, which is open to students beginning this fall, is a response to a call from the state government for new op- portunities for students to pursue science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) careers. About 20 students each year are expected to enroll in the program.

“This is an innovative program that is much needed for Virginia,” said Mark Fink, chair of the Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences. “This field is going to see significant job growth over the next 10 years, and Longwood is going to be a leader in creating the environmental scientists of the future.”

The program’s uniqueness comes from its in- terdisciplinary approach, which will include needed skill sets as well as practical hands-on experiences throughout the entire curriculum. Students have the options of exploring environ- mental science through the lens of economics, sociology, health and recreation, chemistry and physics — providing not only a broader knowl- edge base but also opening the door to more career paths. Student knowledge will be deepened through specialized upper-level capstone courses focusing on environmental planning, management and decision making.

Representatives of several key state environmental agencies and nonprofit groups, including the Chesapeake Bay Foundation Department of Environmental Quality, Department of Conservation and Recreation and Clean Virginia Waterways support the program.

“This program will expand the STEM course work at Longwood and prepare our students for careers in an important and growing field,” said Charles Ross, dean of the Cook-Cole College of Arts and Sciences.

“It’s a perfect fit for Longwood and has already received considerable interest. I foresee top- notch work coming out of this program.”

“This degree program is not only interdisciplinary, it’s truly integrated,” said Fink.

“The intentional integration and application of content, context and skills will enable our students to help solve complex real-world issues and be real leaders in this growing field.”

In its report “Preparing the Top Jobs of the 21st Century,” a state commission on higher education said, “Virginia will need to prepare 100,000 additional workers with STEM degrees over the next decade.”