Department Learning Goals

Given the wide variety of potential environmental careers and opportunities for our majors, the department strives to offer a meaningful foundation of study within a core set of courses and upper-division electives that seek to fulfill the following learning goals:

  • To provide a problem based curriculum that stresses an interdisciplinary approach so that students learn to employ perspectives and methods of analysis from the natural sciences, social sciences, and humanities in the study of complex real world environmental issues.
  • To help students develop critical thinking skills, drawing from both quantitative and qualitative forms of analysis, that allow them to understand, analyze, and articulate conclusions about real environmental problems.
  • To create linkages between theory and practice so that students understand the interconnections between abstract theorizations of environmental dynamics - whether ecological, political, economic, or ideological - and how these are reflected 'on the ground' in case studies and field sites.
  • To provide meaningful hands-on field experiences so that students learn by doing as they conduct field experiments, collect data, and meet with the social actors engaged in environmental management and policy making decisions.
  • To provide opportunities for students to develop leadership skills and learn how to work collaboratively with both faculty and student peers in the design and implementation of research projects and the presentation of final results.
  • To demonstrate how to communicate effectively in a variety of formats so that students learn to present independent and team research findings in writing (e.g., research papers, policy briefs, lab reports, personal journals) and oral presentations (e.g., conference talks, poster sessions, seminars, panel discussions, debates).
  • To engage in collaborative faculty-student research so that students experience the research process, culminating in conference presentations and publications in peer reviewed academic outlets.

Learning Goals for Non-Majors

Learning goals for non-majors reflect our departmental commitment to cultivating an understanding and appreciation of the complex and often counter-intuitive nature of current environmental problems.  To this end, the department offers a number of courses for non-ES majors that fulfill the natural science without a lab learning goal in the Gettysburg Curriculum.  Depending on the particular class, these service courses are designed to provide students with the following:

  • An understanding of the perspectives, assumptions and methods of study drawn from the natural sciences (for our courses dealing primarily with natural science topics)
  • Skills in critical thinking and problem solving using logic and quantitative reasoning
  • An introduction to and employment of an interdisciplinary learning approach -- including the natural sciences, social sciences and the humanities - as applied to the study of environmental problems.
  • An understanding of the linkages between the natural sciences, technologies and their implications in modern society.
  • Continued development of written and oral communication skills.
  • An appreciation for the complexity and methods employed in the field of environmental science.