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Environmental Studies

For several decades, Augustana has offered a rigorous minor in Environmental Studies, emphasizing both interdisciplinary breadth and disciplinary depth. A new interdisciplinary Environmental Studies major now is offered as well, building upon the academic strengths and reputation of the long-standing minor.

Augustana students working aboard a research boat
Augustana students work aboard one of the college's two research boats.

Augustana's program emphasizes the connections between disciplines in the natural and social sciences and humanities so that students may develop a general perspective on environmental issues and a focus related to their specific interests.

The Environmental Studies major is intended for two categories of students: (1) those with no other major or with a major outside of the natural sciences who desire a good broad-based perspective on the environment and a modest level of focused study in biology, chemistry, geography, geology or political science and humanities; and (2) those who have declared majors in other disciplines explicitly related to studying and managing natural and/or urban environments (e.g., biology, chemistry, geography, geology and political science) who desire this second major to add breadth of perspective to complement the focused perspective of their other discipline.

About the program

Augustana's environmental studies program includes 16 faculty, all with a Ph.D., who together represent the disciplines of biology, chemistry, English, geography, geology, political science and religion.

At Augustana, students with interests in the environment can customize their academic major in one of six ways:

  1. A major in environmental studies.
  2. A major in biology, chemistry, geography or geology, followed by graduate school or a career, based on the strength of this major combined with the liberal arts foundation.
  3. A major in one of these or another science field, supplemented by a minor in environmental studies.
  4. A minor in environmental studies to gain a broad understanding of environmental topics to enhance a major in a non-science field.
  5. A cooperative 3-2 degree in environmental management or forestry with Duke University in Durham, N.C., in which a student within five years earns the bachelor of arts from Augustana and a master's of environmental management or master's of forestry from Duke University in one of several specialized fields.
  6. A cooperative 3-3 degree in landscape architecture with the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, in which a student within six years earns the bachelor of arts from Augustana and a master's of landscape architecture from the University of Illinois.

Outside the classroom

Through internships and various short-term projects, the environmental studies programs keep close connections with both local agencies and with corporations and public agencies across the country. Internships provide students with a full eight academic credits for 40 hours of work each week, while field experience requires around 12 hours of work each week. Internships and work experiences last for the duration of the academic term.

To facilitate and supplement the on-campus curricular components of these programs, Augustana's environmental studies program manages and uses three field stations offering a variety of research environments ranging from wetlands to tallgrass prairies: Green Wing Environmental Laboratory, 420 acres south of Dixon, Ill.; Collinson Ecological Preserve, 67 acres in southern Rock Island County; and Beling Ecological Preserve, 100 acres along the lower Rock River. Other resources include the geography department's research boat and the Geographic Information Systems lab, and the Fryxell Geology Museum in Swenson Hall of Geosciences.

To supplement the curricular components of these programs, Augustana is fortunate to have developed a large network of Community Academic Associates, professionals with environmentally related government agencies and private firms, in the Quad-Cities metropolitan area and in the northern Illinois region. These associates provide community connections for guest lectures, field trips, research, internships and part-time employment for students -- all of which give students the opportunity to learn from quality environmental professionals beyond campus. These connnections also provide opportunities for community involvement by environmentally oriented professors.

Quad-Cities Area, Community Academic Associates

  • U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Rock Island District
  • U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services, Rock Island Field Office
  • U.S. Natural Resources Conservation Service, Rock Island County
  • U.S. Natural Resources Conservation Service, Scott County
  • Black Hawk State Historic Site, Rock Island
  • Illinois Department of Natural Resources, Division of Forest Resources, Rock Island
  • Rock Island County Geographic Information Systems Department
  • Scott County (Iowa) Solid Waste Management Commission
  • Bi-State Regional Commission, Rock Island
  • MetroLINK, Rock Island
  • Quad Cities Botanical Center, Rock Island
  • Quad City Development Group, Rock Island
  • Missman, Stanley & Associates
  • City of Davenport Community and Economic Development Department
  • City of East Moline Planning and Zoning Department
  • City of Moline Planning and Development Department
  • City of Moline, Wastewater Treatment Facility
  • Nahant Marsh Education Center, Davenport
  • River Action, Inc., Davenport
  • City of Rock Island Planning and Redevelopment Department
  • City of Rock Island Wastewater Treatment Facility

What students say

Tomi Nauman '09, biology major, environmental studies minor:
"Coming into college, I had no clue what I wanted to do with my life. I have always loved biology, but since biology is one of the most over-arching and diverse areas of study, I knew I had to narrow my list. After taking a course called Environmental Geology, I knew environmental studies was the avenue I needed to follow. I love that my classes include areas of biology, chemistry, geology and geography, and I am truly getting a well-rounded look into what really makes the world go around.

"An environmental internship is required for this area of study, and my advisor
helped me to find internship opportunities right here in the Quad Cities. I am currently doing educational programming at the
Nahant Marsh Education Center just across the river in Davenport. It is an extremely satisfying feeling that every single day, I actually use what I have learned in my classes! Because of my internship, I have hands-on
experience in an environmental field that will give me a leg up, as I am now deciding what to do with my life after Augustana."