Discovering how human societies affect the natural world and how the environment, in turn, affects our quality of life, is one of the most important learning experiences any student can have. At Redlands, however, understanding these relationships is not enough. Students in Environmental Studies learn how to preserve and repair these relationships in order to build a more sustainable society and a new "green" economy.
Environmental Studies is a field that crosses the boundaries of traditional disciplines, connecting the study of complex environmental systems with even more complex human social systems. Students at Redlands are encouraged to examine the relationship between humans and the natural environment from a variety of perspectives, drawn from the natural and earth sciences, social sciences, and the arts and humanities. All environmental majors engage in a common core curriculum that includes the study of living systems (e.g., ecology), earth science (e.g., physical geography, energy, and climate), environmental values (e.g., environmental ethics, world views), spatial analysis (e.g., geographic information systems - GIS), impact assessment and problem-solving (e.g., design studios and policy clinics), research methods (e.g., field study, statistics) and practical environmental learning and applications outside of the classroom (e.g., study abroad, May Term travel courses, internships).
Environmental Studies at Redlands is highly distinctive in four major ways:
We have a dedicated full-time faculty who teach environmental courses, exclusively – we don't depend on the "kindness of strangers" from other departments to offer the bulk of our environmental courses.
We are interdisciplinary not only in what we teach but in the training and interests of the faculty who do the teaching – always promoting integrative thinking, with an eye toward sustainability as the organizing central concept.
Our "teachers" include the building in which we are housed: a bold, LEED-certified, 21st century "earth-sheltered" structure that combines labs, project rooms, indoor and outdoor classrooms, faculty offices, the Redlands Research Institute, and a roof garden covered by native grasses, rock and plant materials from which students can peer down into a hidden courtyard that separates the offices, labs, and classrooms.
We offer multiple opportunities to study environmental conditions outside the classroom, both in the richly varied mountain, forest, city, desert, and ocean environments within an hour's drive from campus and in the amazing variety of regions outside of California that we visit through our travel courses and environmental study abroad programs. In recent years, students in Environmental Studies learned about wildlife conservation around campfires in Rwanda and Kenya. They studied environmental geology around small volcanoes, earthquake faults, and dams in southern California. They took tree ring samples in the Peruvian Amazon in nearby mountains and used them to study climate change. They studied soil and food production at the sustainable University of Redlands Farm. They hiked through remote jungles and across nesting turtle beaches in Costa Rica. Others donned snorkeling and SCUBA gear to explore the coral reefs of Palau, Australia's Great Barrier Reef, and the Turks and Caicos Islands. You get the picture. Our students know that the world is their classroom.
The program of study allows both specialization and integration across diverse subject areas and fields of concentration. Students choose a BA in Environmental Studies or a B.S in Environmental Science and craft a concentration within their degree. Alternatively, they may choose a self-designed concentration through the University's Johnston Center and a minor in Environmental Studies.
The department provides students with the tools to analyze complex environmental problems and contribute to their solutions. Three majors are offered; a bachelor of arts in environmental studies, a bachelor of science in environmental science, and a bachelor of science in sustainable business. All three majors integrate social, ethical, and environmental science understandings of environmental issues. Environmental Studies majors examine the social, economic, and political aspects of environmental issues, Environmental Science majors study the ecological, geological, chemical, and physical sciences to provide a quantitative understanding of environmental issues, and Sustainable Business majors integrate environmental challenges with successful business strategy and management practices. Capstone requirements and honors opportunities are the same for all three degrees and are found under the bachelor of science. A minor in a supporting field highly recommended, for example, spatial studies or environmental chemistry for the major in environmental science, or business administration for the major in environmental studies. The Sustainable Business degree contains the Business Administration minor embedded within it.
Students entering the major are expected to have a 2.3 cumulative GPA on a 4.0 scale. Transfer students are expected to have a 2.3 average from their previous school(s).
Environmental Opportunities in Southern California
We think of our Southern California location as a natural laboratory. The surrounding region offers examples of severe environmental degradation as well as some of the most innovative and technologically advanced solutions in the world.
Just 35 miles from campus sits the country's largest wind farm with over 1,000 wind turbines, and less than 10 miles from campus is the San Bernardino National Forest, home to more endangered species than any other national forest. Southern California's highest peak, Mt. San Gorgonio, is located here, along with the largest roadless area south of the Sierra Nevada. Beyond the range are some of the most magnificent desert countries in the southwest: Joshua Tree and Death Valley National Parks, the new Mojave National Preserve, and the massive Anza-Borrego State Park.
The Pacific Ocean lies 80 miles to the west, providing numerous marine ecosystems to explore, along with excellent opportunities to observe some of the country's best and worst examples of coastal zone management.
Few areas of the world can offer such challenging environmental problems and solutions, in combination with such a beautiful expanse of mountain, ocean, and desert wilderness.