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CMU announces Environmental Studies major

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Canadian Mennonite University is pleased to announce the creation of a new environmental studies major, which will launch in fall 2016. The interdisciplinary, four-year bachelor of arts degree will draw on the fields of science, social science and humanities.

“Environmental studies is by nature interdisciplinary,” says Rachel Krause, assistant professor of biology. “It looks at economic, biophysical, political and private spheres and how they fit together in the natural world.”

With a foundation in natural sciences, students will gain knowledge of the underlying scientific principles and processes required to understand environmental issues such as climate, soil and water systems, nutrient cycles and ecology.

“Students will have a foundation in natural sciences such that they can understand the ecology and the science of the issues we face relevant to the environment,” says Krause.

Through incorporating courses in the social sciences, students will gain an understanding of how economic, political and social structures interact with the environment and inform how natural resources are used.

“Environmental issues always have a natural science component, but they also impact communities and populations,” says Ray Vander Zaag, associate dean of international development studies. “To work in the broad field of environmental studies, you need to have understandings in both areas.”

The humanities component addresses the question of how areas such as literature, philosophy and theology can contribute to understanding problems and visualizing solutions.

“Students will be equipped with the tools to enter the challenging new realities that face our future and cross the boundaries of science and social science,” says Gordon Zerbe, vice president academic at CMU. “We’re very pleased we have the capacity to deliver this kind of program.”

Three new ecology courses are being developed that will offer lab and field research methodologies and will be implemented over the next few years. With the addition of these courses, students interested in education will be able to attain a teachable in biology.

The interdisciplinary nature of the degree will allow students to personalize their studies according to their interests, drawing on the many courses CMU offers that are directly or indirectly relevant to environmental studies. A practicum component will provide students with the opportunity to integrate knowledge and practices related to the field.

Graduates may pursue careers with agencies and non-profit organizations working in areas such as conservation or resource management, or pursue graduate studies in related fields.

To learn more about CMU’s new Environmental Studies major, visit cmu.ca/envirostudies.

—Canadian Mennonite University release

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