The Environmental Science program encourages students to develop an appreciation of the importance to life and society of the natural and humanized environment in the past, present and future; an understanding of nature's integrity, including both natural and human processes affecting environmental change; insight into basic causes of and possible solutions to important environmental problems; and skills for defining and furthering environmentally sound action. Attaining these goals requires grounding in several disciplines as well as integrative study of environmental systems and environmental ethics and institutions. To accomplish these interdisciplinary objectives, the Environmental Science program has a two-tiered structure: a core set of courses, and upper level electives from which the student can choose to emphasize the natural or social sciences. At Willamette, the Environmental and Earth Science departmental offerings are concentrated in the fields of geography and geology. Geography is primarily concerned with explaining the spatial distribution of and relations among various features of the earth -- human and cultural as well as biological and physical features. Geology is the study of the Earth -- its chemical and mineralogical composition, the structure of its materials and the current and past processes that have acted upon it. Both disciplines are deeply concerned with the ties between the nature of our physical environment and the quality of human life. Four departments contribute additional faculty and courses to our program.
Education in environmental science may provide career opportunities in government service or business (e.g., resource management, environmental impact assessment) and in public interest work. It is useful preparation, especially in combination with a second major, for possible careers in teaching, journalism, politics, and business, or for those who plan to enter graduate or professional school in fields such as environmental science, biology, geography, public policy, law, public health or other sciences. For Environmental Science majors considering graduate study, a minor or second major in one of the contributing disciplines is strongly recommended.
The student in Environmental Science at Willamette is well situated to pursue his or her studies. For field study, a great diversity of environments and land-use practices can be found within a short distance -- everything from the Pacific Ocean to the Cascades, from wilderness to cities. As a state, Oregon has pioneered in many aspects of environmental management. The University's location, just across the street from the Capitol and other government offices, facilitates practical learning and involvement.