Environmental Studies at the University of Montana

Passion. Skills. Action.

You might describe the Environmental Studies Program (EVST) at the University of Montana as an ecosystem. Students and faculty thrive because each person plays a different role in contributing to the community’s health and resilience. This close-knit community, housed within the historic Jeanette Rankin Hall, contains a breadth of faculty expertise so diverse that each professor facilitates learning in his or her particular area(s). These differences in specialties foster great respect among faculty, as well as many opportunities for innovation and collaboration on trips, projects, and new courses. Just as there is not one single solution to any of the environmental challenges we all face, there are multiple approaches and perspectives available to students in the Environmental Studies Program in any topic. For a recent statement of EVST’s educational approach, see Professor Neva Hassanein’s article on EVST’s Strategies for Educating Leaders.

Environmental Studies students are curious, feisty, and action-oriented. Though the number of environmental problems can be daunting, students are motivated to bring about positive, lasting change through dedicated commitment to the issues that most interest them. The practical, hands-on skills that students learn in EVST often result in tangible results in Missoula, Montana, but more importantly, these skills are adaptable and transferrable, allowing students to apply their knowledge and expertise to environmental issues within their home communities when they graduate. 

The Environmental Studies Program builds on a long tradition of community engagement and skill-building. Founded in 1970, EVST offers a comprehensive network of alumni and community partners that helps to generate collaboration on projects, new environmental nonprofits, and volunteer, internship, and job opportunities. There is boldness in the EVST community’s vision: we believe in our collective ability to create a better world.

Mission Statement

students facepaiting

The Environmental Studies Program seeks to provide students with the literacy, skills, and commitment needed to foster a healthy natural environment and to create a more sustainable, equitable, and peaceful world. To these ends, the Environmental Studies Program educates and challenges students to become knowledgeable, motivated and engaged in environmental affairs. Our students acquire the skills and awareness to promote positive social change and improve the environment and communities of Montana and the world, for current and future generations.

Statement of Principles

  • Environmental studies require an interdisciplinary approach that integrates the natural sciences, social sciences, and humanities.
  • Creating solutions to environmental problems requires enterprise and performance as well as reflection; therefore, an effective environmental education generates thinkers who can do as well as doers who can think.
  • It is important to provide both classroom and experiential learning opportunities in the arts and responsibilities of democratic citizenship including communication, collaboration, and committed civic participation.
  • Students should be co-creators of their educational experience.

(Photo by Adam Andis)

Our Environment

The Environmental Studies program is based in Jeannette Rankin Hall (JRH), at the center of UM's campus. The building served as the library from 1908 to 1923, then as Law School until 1961, then as the Psych building until 1983.

Environmental Studies shares the building with the Social Work program. JRH is on the National Register of Historic Places, and is the University's only example of neoclassical architecture. We're proud of the building, and even prouder of its namesake.

Our building is named for Jeannette Rankin, the UM alumna (1902) who became the first woman elected to Congress. Rankin is shown below, speaking from the balcony of the National American Woman Suffrage Association. Standing behind her is suffragette Carrie Chapman Catt. Rankin was greeting a crowd of admirers en route to her swearing in on April 2, 1917. After the ceremony, President Woodrow Wilson asked the new Congress to declare war on Germany. Rankin cast one of the few votes against that declaration and lost her seat at the next election. Ironically, she returned to Congress later, just in time to cast the only vote against the declaration of the Second World War.

jeanette rankin hall
jeanette rankins speaking from a balcony