Environmental Studies Presses into Global Issues

The sun bakes one of Westmont's gardens below the tennis courts, environmental studies

The sun bakes one of Westmont’s gardens below the tennis courts

Westmont has created a new minor in environmental studies, adding programs that help students explore some of the most pressing global issues. Professors have spent several years cultivating and developing the new innovative program that began this spring.

“The goal was to situate stewardship of the earth in the context of Christian theology and environmental ethics,” says Amanda Sparkman, associate professor of biology and chair of the committee that developed the proposal.

The new minor will foster an ability to analyze and debate complex environmental problems and devise constructive, imaginative strategies to address them. “We will examine widespread environmental problems such as biodiversity loss, resource depletion, and environmental change and degradation,” Sparkman says. “Students have tremendous scientific, social, and moral dimensions that require a sophisticated, informed and compassionate response from a range of disciplinary perspectives.”

a used plastic water bottle sits on Magnolia Lawn at Westmont, environmental studies

A new course, Introduction to Environmental Studies, anchors the interdisciplinary minor, which requires a total of 20 credits. Students may select electives from each of the three academic divisions (humanities, natural and behavioral sciences, and social sciences).

A former Gaede Institute conference, “Liberal Arts for a Fragile Planet,” led Sparkman to create the new minor. Other committee members include Marianne Robins (history), Steve Contakes (chemistry), Lisa DeBoer (art history), and Caryn Reeder (religious studies).

Crops from the Westmont farm below the track are served in the Dining Commons, environmental studies

Crops from the Westmont farm below the track are served in the Dining Commons

Westmont has added several new majors and minors recently and continues to respond to students’ interests and new career trends by offering more choices that fit with the liberal arts and prepare graduates for a variety of vocational opportunities. In the past year, the college has created a Bachelor of Music, Bachelor of Data Analytics, Bachelor of Science in Engineering and minors in film studies, writing, computer science and environmental studies.