2007 GSA Denver Annual Meeting (28–31 October 2007)

Paper No. 13
Presentation Time: 11:25 AM


PFIRMAN, Stephanie, Environmental Science, Barnard College, Columbia University, 3009 Broadway, New York, NY 10027, HALL, Sharon, Ecology, Evolution, and Environmental Science, Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ 85287, TIETENBERG, Tom, Economics, Colby College, Waterville, ME 04901-8852 and RHOTEN, Diana, Knowledge Institutions, Social Science Reseach Council, 810 Seventh Avenue, New York, NY 10019, spfirman@barnard.edu

Across the United States, faculty members and students are experimenting with different approaches to earth and environmental sciences. Programs come in all shapes and sizes: new and established, large and small, interdepartmental and single-department, science-based and policy-based, with and without strong administration support, and under one roof and dispersed. We interviewed faculty and students in environmental science/studies programs at 11 liberal arts colleges across the country to learn what works and what doesn't, where are the challenges, and where are the opportunities. Programs are moving in similar directions: interdisciplinary and hands-on pedagogy, campus greening, service learning, GIS, student research, and they also face many of the same difficulties: diversity, shortages in staffing and administrative support. Like many other interdisciplinary endeavors, environmental programs are relying on an unsustainable infusion of faculty energy and time. For these programs to work on the long term, goals and activities need to be aligned with performance evaluation and resources. This is important, not just for faculty in terms of promotion to tenure, but also for students, especially women and minorities who seem to be disproportionately drawn to interdisciplinarity.