Environmental Policy and Decision Making Now a Major

An exciting announcement came out of the Environmental Policy and Decision-Making department earlier this month: starting in the fall of 2016, Puget Sound students will be able to major in Environmental Policy and Decision-Making. Since the formation of the Environmental Science department, students have only been able to minor in the subject. The decision to expand the department and the program comes at a time when sustainability and climate change are especially important and controversial topics in the United States and around the world.

The major will require students to take eight required courses and mandates that students will need to complete some sort of experimental learning requirement, such as field work or studyig abroad.

These classes will include four courses on environmental science, policy, topics and tools, and will offer electives such as Water Policy, Climate Change, Thinking about Biodiversity and many more.

Dan Sherman, Director of the Environmental Policy and Decision-Making program, commented on the rising necessity for programs such as the one to be offered in 2016.

“Environmental policy studies today provide a means of examining the relationship between our planet’s environmental limits and the human values, decisions and actions that shape our future. With this major program we aim to put graduates on a path where they can combine environmental know-how with a familiarity with the various actors in the social, political and economic realms where the important decisions about humanity’s future are made,” Sherman said.

As Sherman states, there is an increasing need for scholars and scientists in the world who have a dedicated focus and motivation to engage in further research concerning climate change, and shift domestic and international policy towards a more sustainable path.

“I think it’s a good idea to expand it into a major,” sophomore Clara Brown said. “There is tons of interest, and Washington is at the forefront of environmental policy.”

As the University of Puget Sound attempts to maintain a sustainable and earth-friendly lifestyle, it motivates its students to do so as well. Offering an expanded environmental studies program will serve as a great way for students to combine their passion for environmental sustainability with tangible ways to engage themselves and others in policy formation and a holistic understanding of the problem of climate change from a political, social and economic perspective.

“Also, with Olympia so close by, students have plenty of opportunities to get involved directly,” Brown said. “I went to two coal-train hearings, for example.”

As an extremely engaged and passionate group, Puget Sound students are always looking for ways to become involved in the community, and further engaged in their areas of interest. This program will give them greater motivation and further enhance their knowledge and skills to bring to the table in real world discussions about environmental policy.

“The department was small and there wasn’t a huge variety of professors,” junior politics and government major Lilie Gross said of the introductory Environmental Policy and Decision-Making course she took as a first year. “The requirements were so intense for a minor and it was difficult to get into enough of the required classes.”

In the past, students have criticized the Environmental Policy and Decision-Making department for not offering enough courses or making it as easy to minor in the subject as other departments.

The expansion of the department will make it easier for students to get into required courses, and give them an increased variety of classes to choose from.

With an increasing need for sustainable domestic policy in the United States, Puget Sound is in a position of producing students with a well-rounded and environmentally friendly sense of the world, who will go on to ignite real and tangible change in political and scientific fields.

Expanding the Environmental Policy and Decision-Making program is sure to be a welcomed and well-overdue development in Puget Sound academics.