Goals, Activities, Opportunities
Student Learning Goals: Graduate
Upon entering the program, we expect our graduate students to have already developed communication and problem-solving skills. We work with students to deepen their interdisciplinary understanding, develop their skills in oral and written communication and in research and civic and other forms of engagement. We also prepare students for productive careers and as future leaders.
We develop student understanding and competency in five areas:
- Environmental science: Understanding the principles of ecology and ecological systems; understanding of natural and/or social scientific methods; skills in evaluating and synthesizing the state of knowledge on specific topics; and competency in the use of scientific studies in environmental decision making, policy making, and advocacy, including necessary oral and written communication skills.
- Environmental policy and politics: Understanding policy making processes, institutions, and organizations; competency in conducting applied policy analyses and strategically influencing policy; and Ability to analyze root and structural causes and the systemic nature of environmental problems.
- Environmental thought and literature: Understanding and appreciation of the philosophical, ethical, and humanitarian aspects of crises; and competency in the interpretation of environmental literature and in creative expression.
- Engagement and Applied Research: Understanding of the techniques of community organizing, advocacy, and public education; participatory competence in ethical and culturally-sensitive application of those techniques; provide opportunities for civic engagement and other forms of direct involvement; and ability to conduct independent research and community projects that focus on effectively addressing environmental problems and that contribute to social justice and economic and environmental sustainability.
- Career Preparation: Competency at applying the above set of skills to creative environmental problem solving and provide experience and develop student confidence for success in environmental careers and leadership through supportive mentorship and effective role modeling of faculty.
Student Learning Goals: Undergraduate
Modeled after our graduate program, our undergraduate program also seeks to prepare students to understand environmental problems and work toward social, economic, and environmental sustainability. We also prepare students who are interested in further education or training in environmental studies or related fields. Thus, students develop an appropriate level of oral and written communication, analytic, critical thinking, and research skills as well as an aptitude and commitment for civic and other forms of engagement.
Goals include the development of interdisciplinary understanding and competence in a breadth of environmental studies areas outlined below, and depth obtained through a second disciplinary major/minor, or a programmatically recognized or individually tailored emphasis.
(1) Environmental science: Students gain an understanding of basic natural and social science principles that inform environmental decision making; principles and applications of ecology and ecological systems; the scientific method, its strengths, limitations, and holistic approaches; the use of science in environmental policy making and problem solving.
Students also gain competency in ecological field studies; analyzing the credibility of sources of scientific information; and researching, synthesizing, and presenting scientific information in both oral and written form and using science to support social justice, and economic and environmental sustainability.
(2) Environmental policy and politics: Students gain an understanding of policy making processes, related institutions, organizations, and decision making tools; history and theory of natural resource and environmental law, policy, & regulation; and history, leading figures, and current issues of the environmental movement
Students also gain competency in researching and analyzing policy issues; communicating such analyses and political messages both orally and in writing; and devising strategies and organizing to influence policy decisions.
(3) Environmental thought, literature, and communication: Students gain an understanding of the history of Western environmental thought and ethics and a basic understanding of non-Western perspectives and familiarity with nature writing and environmental studies “classics.”
Students also gain competency in applying environmental thought and ideas from history and literature to inform individual and societal actions in the present and future; and communicating such applications orally and in writing using a variety of strategies and approaches.
(4) Engagement: Students gain competency in strategies and techniques for addressing environmental problems and promoting social, economic, and environmental sustainability; develop a commitment to ethical and culturally-sensitive civic participation and other forms of community engagement.
(5) Disciplinary depth, subfield emphasis, and career preparation: Students gain disciplinary or subfield depth through completion of a disciplinary minor (or second major) or an emphasis, consisting of specific coursework and an internship. Students gain skills for entry level positions in environmental professions and for further education in environmental studies and related fields.
Major Subdisciplines in the Unit
Sustainable Food and Farming
This emphasis area provides students at the graduate and undergraduate level with the opportunity for: (1) intensive interdisciplinary study of the contemporary food and agricultural systems; (2) hands-on experience growing organic food for low-income people on an urban farm (see PEAS below); and (3) community-based action research projects.
Environmental creative non-fiction, environmental literature, publishing, editorial techniques.
Ecosystem conservation, preservation and restoration; watershed protection; and conservation biology.
Pollution biology, watershed planning, watershed restoration, water resource conservation, water resource management.
Philosophy and practice of restoring damaged ecosystems; science of restoration ecology; community involvement in ecological restoration; developing a restoration economy.
Environmental philosophy, ethical implications of environmental policy, intersection of environmental sustainability and social justice.
Environmental Policy and Law
Policy analysis and evaluation, land management policy, climate change policy, toxics regulation and remediation, waste management policy, species conservation policy, conflict resolution, comparative US-Canada natural resource management policy.
Disparate impact assessment; equity analysis; environmental health; community empowerment; sustainable economic development; indigenous peoples rights; cultural diversity in the environmental professions.
Population dynamics, habitat conservation.
Neo-liberal economic policies, international development institutions and initiatives, grassroots alternatives and resistance movements.
Scope and Sequence in Curriculum
At the undergraduate level there is a progression from introductory courses (EVST 101 Environmental science- introduces natural science and environment; EVST 167 nature and Society- introduces social science and humanities and environment), to sophomore level courses that focus on community and environment (EVST 225) and development of higher-order research and report writing(EVST 201), to junior and senior level courses that meet policy, ecology and humanities dimensions of environmental work. Our core major requirements are intentionally limited to allow room for a second major/minor or emphasis to develop depth in an area of specialization. We strive to expose students to the full breadth of environmental studies so that they can appreciate the need to address natural science, social science and humanities perspectives for comprehensive understanding of and incorporation into environmental issues and resolutions. Therefore, a wide variety of upper-dvision electives are offered to allow students to craft an individualized course of study providing an emphasis in one area of environmental work.
At the graduate level, EVST requires completion of a course within the program to address scientific, policy and humanities approaches to environmental problems, plus an engagement course to develop skills for non-profit and government work in environmental problem-solving. Students are assigned an advisor aligned with their sub- discipline interest area and establish a course of study in their first semester. Advising and mentoring is ongoing to align students with coursework that develops professional skills and knowledge commensurate with the student’s educational and career goals. As a result, the sub-disciplines are offered in both core requirement courses and electives. EVST supplements the course requirements with skill-development workshops on three to four current topics in environmental work each year and an annual field trip to Big Timber, Montana to learn about the local community there and its interaction with the environment to provide another frame of reference for students not found in Missoula.
Faculty Scholarship and Creative Works
Professor Len Broberg
Len Broberg has expertise in environmental law and policy, conservation biology, biodiversity planning, climate policy, renewable energy systems and transboundary natural resource management. He has published in the Journal of Forestry, BioScience and the Journal of Wildlife Management co-organized the Peace, Parks and Partnerships international peace park and transboundary management conference and meeting of the IUCN Task Force on Transboundary Conservation in fall 2007 and is currently co-editing a conference proceedings to be published by University of Calgary Press and co-authoring a book on Yellowstone National Park bison ecology and management with Dr. Cormack Gates of the University of Calgary. He was most recently an invited speaker at the Wheeler Center Conference on Canadian-US relations.
Associate Professor Phil Condon
Phil Condon serves as the leader of our environmental writing program focused on creative non-fiction. Condon published the collection of personal essays, Montana Surround, in 2005 and the novel, Clay Center, in 2004. These works have received outstanding reviews from such literary notables as John Elder and Terry Tempest Williams; awards and honors like the ALA Ten Best First Novels of 2004, the Faulkner Award and finalist for the national Independent Booksellers Award; and resulted in invitations to read and speak at numerous scholarly conferences, colleges, libraries, book festivals and arts centers. He has published in creative journals, such as High Desert Journal and Moon City Review, and essays in anthologies.
Associate Professor Neva Hassanein
Neva Hassanein focuses her research and teaching on the sustainability of contemporary agriculture and food systems. She is author of the book, Changing the Way America Farms: Knowledge and Community in the Sustainable Agriculture Movement (Univ. of Nebraska Press, 1999). Hassanein’s work has also been published in Society and Nature; Journal of Rural Studies; Agriculture and Human Values; and the Journal of Hunger and Environmental Nutrition. She has facilitated two major community-based action research projects, involving a variety of stakeholders and students; both projects contributed to food systems change in Montana. She is currently Vice President of the Agriculture, Food, and Human Values Society, an organization of interdisciplinary scholars; and she serves on the boards of two non-profit organizations. She has received the Cox Award for Teaching Excellence and the AERO Sustainable Agriculture Educators Award.
Dr. Robin Saha
Robin Saha is a well-known, respected environmental justice scholar with interdisciplinary training in environmental sociology and policy analysis from the University of Michigan. Dr. Saha collaborates with leading scholars in the field of environmental justice and has contributed to the development of policy tools and methods for assessing disparate environmental impacts on racial and ethnic minorities and low- income populations. Dr. Saha has published in journals such as Demography and Social Problems and co-authored Toxic Wastes and Race at Twenty, an update of a highly influential 1987 report Toxic Wastes and Race in the United States. Dr. Saha’s research has been funded by the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health. Dr. Saha has also written several Superfund policy analyses for the State of Montana. Most recently, Dr. Saha also has engaged in community-based participatory research with a Superfund community and an Indian tribe in Montana on environmental health concerns.
Associate Professor Daniel Spencer
Daniel Spencer’s expertise is in three areas: 1) Globalization and the Global Economy, with attention to environmental and social justice effects and particular expertise in Latin America. He has published in journals such as The Journal of Political Theology. 2) Ethical Issues in Ecological Restoration, with particular focus on community involvement in restoration, especially the Upper Clark Fork, and issues of restoration in wilderness. Spencer gave the keynote opening address to the Montana Governor's Forum on Restoration in Billings, June, 2006 and has published the essay Ecospirit: Religions and Philosophies for the Earth (Fordham, 2007)
Josh Slotnick is a lecturer in EVST, as such teaching is his primary responsibility. In addition to teaching and advising (mostly graduate students), Slotnick has been an invited speaker at the Governor’s Summit on Food and Agriculture, Keynote speaker at the Rural Roots conference in Idaho, Bridging the Gap medical conference in Missoula, Growing Communities conference in Helena and many others. He has been interviewed extensively by the local press on agricultural issues, and is a recognized leader in the field. He was given the 2007 Peace maker of the year award in Missoula, 2005 Sustainable Agriculture award from the Alternative Energy Resource Organization (AERO), and was a co recipient of the Jimmy and Rosalyn Carter Partnership award. He has published farming poetry and is currently at work on a solicited chapter for a book on student farms.
Professor Vicki Watson
Vivki Watson has dedicated her career to water resources and water quality research. She has had many research grants with the Montana Department of Environmental Quality and the US Environmental Protection Agency. Watson has published in such peer-reviewed journals as Hydrobiologia, Journal of Environmental Quality, and Journal of the North American Benthological Society. Her research has contributed directly to the formulation of nutrient standards for Montana water bodies and she has assisted numerous citizen watershed councils in the development of TMDL’s and watershed plans for surface waters. She directs the Watershed Health Clinic and trains numerous graduate and undergraduate students in water quality research and its application to real-world problem solving.
EVST faculty are actually rather diverse, but in dimensions that do not appear in the standard statistics reported. We have two women faculty members out of six positions. One of our faculty members is of mixed heritage and does not report as other than Caucasian, but would be perceived as a person of color.
We encourage and support the application of Native American graduate students. Typically, we have one or more such students in each cohort. We have also instituted an undergraduate requirement of one Native American Studies course at the suggestion of one of our Blackfeet tribal member undergraduates to enable non-tribal students to understand the perspective of Indian people and promote greater participation by Native American students in classes.
We also held a workshop in AY 2006-2007 open to all graduate students and faculty that addressed diversity in the workforce. This “Leveraging Diversity and Inclusion as a Foundation for Success” workshop, led by trainer Angela Park of Diversity Matters was well attended by students and faculty.
Given the new jobs available as sustainability coordinators and the green recovery emphasis of the new administration, EVST is well positioned to develop training within the program to prepare students for such employment. Assessment of the undergraduate program indicates that students desire more career preparation. This is an area where we can deliver elements that prepare students for such employment and develop opportunities. The development of a Climate Change Studies minor and the College of Technology energy tech program allow us to combine resources effectively to do just that and we are vigilant for funding support as part of the green recovery program.
The University of Montana has offered us an amazing opportunity at the UM Forum for Living with Appropriate Technology site that contains two dwellings and outbuildings we can retrofit for energy and consumer efficiency. This site is an ideal training ground for students to gain experience in design, implementation and monitoring of such technologies. We have developed a new curricular element to embark on this direction: EVST 204 Sustainable Technology Applications. We look forward to adding to this base as funding and human resources allows.