Environmental Studies

Environmental Studies at Cottey College empowers students to develop the knowledge, skills and understanding required to address complex environmental concerns that face our world today.  An interdisciplinary approach integrates the natural sciences, the social sciences and the humanities. The objective is to develop a rich and nuanced understanding of the earth, its resources and our place in it. The program is characterized by diverse course offerings that lets students flexibly learn across disciplines. In the senior year students focus on a specific interest and engage in a substantial research project. This capstone experience teaches them research skills, lets them take on leadership roles, engage in collaborative learning and find sustainable solutions to human-environment problems in a real world scenario.

Environmental Studies might be for you if…

  • you care about the environment and the future of our earth
  • you deeply care about the sustainability of humans,  non-humans (mammals, birds, reptiles, insects, aquatic life) and more broadly nature in the form of  farms, forests, rivers, mountains, weather, oceans and landscapes
  • you want to be an agent of change

For more information contact:

Diya Paul – dpaul@cottey.edu

All required courses and electives for the Environmental Studies major strike a balance between the social sciences, natural sciences and the humanities as they relate to the environment. Students explore scientific principles, current research, social theories, representation of nature in literature and current environmental crises. The courses engage with themes like social responsibility, global awareness of environmental issues, economic and political consequences, and policy development. For a list of courses and specific requirements see the Course Catalog.


The lower division requirements provide students with a broad foundation and different approaches to studying human-environment interactions. These include a basic scientific understanding of earth systems and processes, the different ways in which environmental problems are understood and analyzed and discussion of significant texts, both historical and current that have been instrumental to the environmental movement in the U.S. At this stage students are also exposed to the global nature of environmental issues. Lower division elective courses give students the flexibility to choose from their own interest area and learn how diverse fields like biology, chemistry, history, and even philosophy are integral to an understanding of nature.

The core requirements for the Environmental Studies major are designed to develop critical thinking, analytical abilities and the skills to undertake research and data analyses independently. Students are encouraged to explore both quantitative and qualitative research methodologies.The upper division electives and interdisciplinary degree requirements encourage students to take courses across disciplines to gain a holistic understanding of the complexity of environmental issues. These courses are an opportunity for students to use the knowledge and skills learned in the foundation courses to explore different theoretical approaches and perspectives via courses in anthropology, chemistry, computer science, history, international business, international relations, organizational leadership, animal behavior, or/and women and gender studies.

Capstone research is the culmination of a students work in gaining an Environmental Studies degree. They learn to apply their knowledge to a specific are or problem that interests them. In the first semester of the final year, students develop a research project. They learn how to identify research questions, conduct a comprehensive literature review and write a proposal. In the second semester, students conduct research and write their thesis. At this stage every student is encouraged to share their research in undergraduate conferences and other venues. Capstone projects are an opportunity to undertake independent research and make connections between what they have learned in the classroom over four years and real world issues.

Year 1FallSpring
First Year Writing Seminar3College Writing3
MAT 110 College Algebra or higher3Social Science course3
Arts course3Dance or Physical Education course2
Science course3Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies3
ENV 1103Humanities course3
ENV 1253
Year 2FallSpring
ENV 1203ENV Lower Division Elective1-5
ENV Method requirement3ENV Major Core requirement3
ENV Lower Division Elective1-5Interdisciplinary requirement3
Dance or Physical Education course2ENV Method requirement3
Year 3FallSpring
ENV Method requirement3ENV Major Core requirement3
Interdisciplinary requirement3ENV Upper Division Elective3
ENV Upper Division Elective3Electives9
Year 4FallSpring
ENV Upper Division Elective3ENV Major Core requirement3
ENV 4853ENV 4903-5
Total Hours: 120-126

Paul, Diya, Ph.D.
Assistant Prof. of Environmental Studies
143 RFAB
(417) 667-8181, ext. 2134

Chaney, Sandra, Ph.D.
Assoc. Prof. of History & Cord. Liberal Arts
157 RFAB
(417) 667-8181, ext. 2176

Ganga Fernando, Ph.D.
Assoc. Professor of Chemistry
201 Grantham
(417) 667-8181, ext. 2180

Brenda Ross, Ph.D
Professor of Chemistry
220 Grantham
(417) 667-8181, ext. 2215

Watanabe, Kanji, Ph.D.
Professor Intl. Relations/Political Science
136 Alumnae Hall
(417) 667-8181, ext. 2188

Capstone research projects done by Environmental Studies majors include a variety of topics such as:

  • Community gardening and well-being in Nevada, Missouri
  • Comparing water pollution in Guatemala and Nevada, Missouri
  • Eco-cultural aspects of multicultural festivals at Cottey College
  • Environmental justice issues related to water pollution in Lake Victoria, Uganda
  • Lack of public transportation and its associated problems in Nevada, Missouri

Students attend and present their research at regional and national level conferences such as:

  • Central States Anthropological Society Annual Meeting
  • The Plains Anthropological Society Conference
  • The Missouri Academy of Sciences
  • The National Association of Environmental Professionals Conference

Students attend various fieldtrips that are organized by the Environmental Studies program every year. These trips include:

  • Local Agriculture and Livestock Farms
  • The Bushwhacker Lake Conservation Area
  • Prairie State Park, Mindenmines, Missouri
  • Bridal Cave, Ozarks, Missouri
  • Ha Ha Tonka State Park, Ozarks, Missouri
  • The Missouri Department of Conservation Reserve, Missouri
  • The Heifer International, Arkansas

Environmental studies classrooms are by design active learning spaces. This includes group discussions, student led discussions on specific topics or current news, lab exercises, classroom activities, creative projects, debates and individual research projects. The emphasis is on learning through different methods that also include lectures, concept maps, documentaries, writing assignments and critical analyses.

Experiential learning is a fundamental component of the Environmental Studies major. This includes field trips, meeting professionals and experts like conservationists, farmers, water engineers and urban planners, attending guest lectures and participating in conferences. As much as possible courses include an element of field work or the opportunity to learn by doing. Students apply what they learn by testing for air and water quality, exploring sustainable tourism options in the region, community gardening, mapping projects using GIS and carrying out research on current events and policies. The program strongly encourages summer internships to gain real-world experience and the opportunity to explore career options for the future.


  1. Sustainable Development
  2. Media- Environmental journalism, Documentary and Film production and Environmental writing 
  3. Wildlife Conservation and Natural Resource Management (in areas like forestry, soil and water management, land restoration, park management)
  4. Government & Non-Profits
  5. Urban Planning
  6. Agriculture and Food Systems
  7. Environmental Health
  8. Environment Education
  9. Pursue graduate studies in fields like Geography, Conservation, Environmental Management and Anthropology,  with specializations in areas pertaining to Disaster Management, Environmental Humanities, GIS (Geographic Information Systems) to name a few
  10. Entrepreneurship
  11. GIS professionals in the public and private sector
  12. Sustainable Farming

      To learn more about the Environmental Studies program contact:

      Diya Paul – dpaul@cottey.edu

      Websites to visit

      Association for Environmental Studies and Sciences

      American Association of Geographers


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