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Misericordia University Adds Growing Field of Environmental Studies to Academic Programming

Misericordia University has announced the addition of Environmental Studies to its list of academic programming for Fall 2021, which offers new academic opportunities with a range a professional applications.

Melanie Shepherd, Ph.D.

“A National Endowment for the Humanities grant enabled Misericordia University to develop major and minor programs in Environmental Studies that emphasize interdisciplinary collaboration and community-based learning,” said Melanie Shepherd, Ph.D., Professor of Philosophy and Chair of the Department of Philosophy, Misericordia University. “This increasingly popular area of study complements a growing number of jobs covering a wide cross-section of industries.”

There are currently more than 370,000 Environmental Studies majors in the United States work force, earning an average salary of $68,265. Such professional fields include environmental science; environmental law; environmental policy, planning, and management; and environmental advocacy, as well as middle and secondary education.

Student conducting shoreline research

This interdisciplinary major and minor in Environmental Studies will 1) develop students’ appreciation for the philosophical and ethical dimensions of environmentalism; 2) cultivate an understanding of the natural environment that is shaped by evolutionary history, human history and pre-history, and the history of environmental advocacy; 3) develop the scientific, geographical, and socio-economic literacy necessary to analyze an environmental situation; and 4) allow students to construct and apply a framework for understanding environmental challenges from a multi- and inter-disciplinary perspective.

Dr. Heidi Manning

“I am pleased to add Environmental Studies to our curriculum as it perfectly aligns with our mission,” said Heidi L. K. Manning, Ph.D., Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, Misericordia University.

“Misericordia was founded by the Sisters of Mercy, and one of their critical concerns is to care for the Earth. This program provides a deeper knowledge about our planet, protecting and caring for it, and developing an appreciation for the complex environment in which we live. Graduates will bring this knowledge with them into the workforce during a time a time when it is so critical for our future.”

Additionally, Misericordia’s location in northeastern Pennsylvania, a region bearing the scars of the coal industry and now the site of environmental controversy due to its abundance of shale gas, makes the need for a formal plan of study in environmental topics more pressing.

“The Environmental Studies track offers two basic paths to a Bachelor of Arts in Environmental Studies, based on student interests -- a standard track and an Environmental Science track,” noted Cosima B. Wiese, Ph.D., Professor of Biology, Misericordia University. “Additionally, students can choose a modified version of the standard major as a pre-Law track or a pre-Doctor of Physical Therapy track. All four tracks are outlined in a four-year sequence.”A new four-course interdisciplinary Environmental Studies course sequence will form the backbone of the major. These courses are ENV 100: Environment and Society; ENV 200: Issues in Sustainability; ENV 300: Environmental Research Design; and ENV 400: Senior Capstone. ENV 410, an independent research option is also included. Additionally, the curriculum will include a series of new upper-level Environmental Studies electives.

Visit this link for more information on the Environmental Studies program.

National Endowment for the Humanities

--Photo captions--

Photo 1: Grace Chen, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Biology working with MU students in a greenhouse  

Photo 2: Melanie Shepherd, Ph.D., Professor of Philosophy and Chair of the Department of Philosophy

Photo 3: Misericordia student fellow tackling shoreline issues

Photo 4: Heidi L. K. Manning, Ph.D., Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences