Environmental Studies

environmental studies streams summer project

As an environmental studies major at Saint Michael's, you will investigate important domestic and global environmental problems and learn how to help create a more sustainable world. You will get outside the classroom for engaged learning that reflects the social justice mission of the college through internships, study abroad, community projects, and collaborative research with faculty. You can also participate in sustainability and environmental justice projects on campus such as recycling and energy efficiency, working in the organic garden, and activism through environmentally-conscious clubs such as Green Up, Food for Thought, the Fair Trade Committee and the Divestment Campaign.

As an environmental studies major you will enroll in an interdisciplinary core of courses team-taught by faculty from the humanities, social sciences and natural sciences.  Building on this core, you can then choose from three tracks for the major:

Environmental Imagination

Environmental Imagination is for students interested in exploring how different intellectual and creative traditions have imagined nature in the past and how they continue to inspire new perspectives on the relationship between human beings and the natural world in the present and for the future. 

Environmental Justice and Sustainability

Environmental Justice and Sustainability is focused upon the social science of decision-making around some of the most important global challenges of our time: climate change, the potential of fair trade, and of domestic and international initiatives to protect the environment.

Environmental Science and Policy

Environmental Science and Policy gives students a deeper understanding of the ways in which scientific knowledge and discovery is used to form environmental policy. 

Other Courses

The sophomore-level Environmental Research Methods course will take you into the field in Vermont urban and rural communities, as well as natural environments, to focus on specific skills in the social and natural sciences that relate to environmental problems.   In Environmental Studies Practicum you will apply those skills in the world outside the classroom.  In Senior Seminar you will complete a capstone research project. 

You can also choose from other courses such as:

  • Eco and Environmental Art
  • Religion, Ecology and Ethics
  • Philosophy of Science, Technology and Environment
  • Film and the Environment
  • Environmental Economics
  • Coral Reef Ecology
  • Sustainable Food Systems
  • Environmental Hazards
  • Nature and Outdoor Writing
  • Politics of Food
  • Introduction to Ecology and Evolution
  • New England Environmental History
  • Community and Environmental Planning
  • Environmental Conflict Resolution
  • Geography of Water
  • Global Environmental Politics


Sample Four Year Plan for Environmental Studies Majors*

First Year
Fall Spring
ES 105 Nature and Culture** ES 106 Environment and Society** 
First Year Seminar  EC 101 Principles of Macroeconomics
Foreign Language I  Foreign Language II
Liberal Studies course Liberal Studies course
Fall Spring
ES 107 Environmental Science** ES 201 Environmental Research Methods
Liberal Studies courses Liberal Studies courses
Fall Spring
ES 301 Advanced Topics in Environmental Studies ES 320 Environmental Conflict Resolution 
ES 306 Environmental Justice PO 327 Environmental Policy
Electives Electives
Fall Spring
ES 410 Environmental Studies Senior Seminar ES 499 Environmental Studies Internship
Electives Electives

This is just one of many possible paths to a major in Environmental Studies, with a focus on Environmental Justice and Sustainability.  There are a number of courses in other departments which can count towards Environmental Studies requirements, such as Environmental Economics, Global Environmental Politics, and Human Behavior and the Environment.  Your faculty advisor will work with you to develop a curriculum plan that matches your interests and career goals.

* For students who enroll in the fall of 2018.

** ES 105, 106, and 107 can be taken in any order

Jeffrey Ayres, PhD

Professor of Political Science
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B.A. University of Virginia
M.A. and Ph.D. University of Wisconsin-Madison

Areas of Expertise:

Globalization, Global and Regional Governance, International Relations, Social Movements and Contentious Politics, Canadian and North American Politics

Courses I Teach:

  • Globalization and Resistance
  • Global Governance
  • Global Problems
  • International Relations
  • Politics of the World Economy
  • Social Movements and Contentious Politics
  • U.S. Foreign Policy

Bret Findley, PhD

Associate Professor of Chemistry
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Cheray Hall 212
Box 131
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Ph.D. Dartmouth College
B.A. Willamette University

Areas of Expertise:

Experimental Physical Chemistry; Photo-Induced Electron Transfer Reactions; Molecular Spectroscopy; Physical Chemistry Pedagogy

Courses I Teach:

  • Chemistry Senior Seminar
  • Concepts in Chemistry
  • General Chemistry I and II
  • Chemical Thermodynamics and Kinetics
  • Quantum Chemistry and Spectroscopy
  • Environmental Chemistry

Jon Hyde, PhD

Associate Professor of Media Studies, Journalism and Digital Arts; Director, Global Studies Program

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Jeanmarie Hall 164
Box 284
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M.A., Ph.D. New York University
B.A. Carleton College

Fulbright Senior Research/Teaching Fellow: University of Malaysia, Borneo
Co-Director of the Center for Media, Health, and Wellness
Co-Founder/Director Global Studies Program 
Technology & Instructional Design Coordination – SMC and NYU
Bhutan Media Education Initiative SMC and the Centre for Media and Democracy

Areas of Expertise

  • Photography, Film and Television:  Creative Production, Storytelling and Critical Analysis
  • Screen Lives: Smartphones, Netflix, YouTube and the Global Impact of Screen-based and Streaming Media. 
  • The New (R)Evolutions in Documentary Filmmaking: International Economics, Analytics, Collaborations
  • Global Media and International Communication Systems: Culture, Identity, Economics and Development
  • Media and Health: The Social and Psychological Impact of Modern Media (Children-Teens-Adults-Elderly)  
  • Environmental and Adventure Photography and Filmmaking: Nature, Science, Conservation
  • New Technologies: Art, Design, Interface, Impact

Courses I Teach:

  • Introduction to Digital Film:  Analysis, Storytelling, and Production
  • Advanced Documentary Filmmaking: From Script to Screen
  • Global Communications and Culture: International Media Systems and Globalization
  • Senior Seminar Research and Project Development
  • Senior Capstone Seminar:  Documentary Film, TV, and Web Production
  • Adventure and Environmental Filmmaking: Nature, Science, Conservation and Health
  • World Film, Video, and Television: International Industries, Economics, and Representations
  • ScreenLife: Modern Visual, Streaming, and Mobile Media
  • International Media Field Research Projects: Bhutan, Brazil, Greece, Czech Republic, Malaysia, Israel, Egypt, Ireland

Additionally, I’ve also served as a graduate thesis advisor for research in the areas of film and television, global media, media education, media literacy, emergent media, and the social and political impact of communication systems.  

Professional Experiences:

Prior to teaching at Saint Michael's, I worked in New York City as a journalist, digital animator, and a media developer at the Media Workshop New York, a non-profit organization devoted to issues of media education and media literacy.

Robert Jan Lair, MAR

Adjunct Faculty First Year Seminar, Environmental Studies.

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Founders Hall Annex 248
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M.A.R. Yale University
B.A. Colgate University

Areas of Expertise

Buddhism, Hinduism, Contemporary American Spirituality, Postmodernism, Buddhism in America, Yoga Studies.

Courses taught

  • The Examined Life, FS
  • Buddhism and the Environment, ES
  • Understandings of God, RS

Richard Kujawa, PhD

Professor of Geography, Department of Environmental Studies and Science Chair

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Saint Edmund's Hall 359
Box 144
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M.A., Ph.D. University of Iowa
B.Sc. Brunel University, London

Courses I Teach:

  • Place and Placelessness (First Year Seminar)
  • Introduction to Human Geography
  • Urban Geography
  • Political Geography
  • Economic Geography
  • The Geography of Water
  • Environmental Policy
  • Community and Environmental Planning

My Saint Michael's:

In my classes, advising and in the human geography program, one-on-one contact is encouraged. I encourage students to present their findings to external audiences and professional conferences. I help students with graduate school applications (especially those in Urban and Regional Planning). In the past few years, I have helped Saint Michael's graduates successfully apply to Cornell, Rutgers, SUNY-Albany, Kansas State University, the University of Iowa and several others. I also have some connections for internships in the local area.

Hands down, my favorite thing about this college is the class sizes. At Saint Mike's I am able to shorten the distance between my role as faculty member and expert, and my role as motivator and mentor. I see part of my job as a salesperson for the power of intellectual growth and lifelong learning. I work hard each and every day to make the sale!

Robert Letovsky, Ph.D.

Professor of Business Administration and Accounting

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Jeanmarie Hall 149G
Box 273
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Ph.D. Concordia University
M.B.A. University of Toronto
B.Comm. McGill University

Areas of Expertise:

Case development focused on organizational strategy, business/government relations and sustainability.

Courses I Teach:

  • Managerial Ethics
  • Business Policy & Strategic Management
  • Organizational Problem Solving
  • Marketing

My favorite class to teach is Managerial Ethics. It is the first required course in the BU major, and it really gets students to step outside of their comfort zone. While there is a core theory that has to be addressed, the course is set up so that we can explore issues that are current in the business world. For example, this Fall semester, the overall theme of the semester-long team research project is the ethical dilemma(s) posed by the adoption of new technologies in business. We will be examining data mining, drones, robots, self-driving vehicles and artificial intelligence. The course also puts students into situations where ethical reasoning comes into play. I typically use a computer simulation to give students a hands-on experience as a manager in a series of hypothetical situations where they must make decisions which are sound not only financially but ethically.

Nathaniel Lewis, PhD

Professor of English

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Saint Edmund's Hall 342
Box 282
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Ph.D. Harvard University
M.A. University of North Carolina
B.A. Yale University

I teach courses on literary theory, environmental writing, and multiethnic literatures. I have written on western American literature, literary aesthetics, and nature writing.

Crystal L'Hôte, PhD

Associate Professor of Philosophy

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Saint Edmund's Hall 238
Box 376
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Ph.D., M.A. Johns Hopkins University
B.A. Colgate University

Areas of Expertise:

Philosophy of mind (and cognates), metaphysics and epistemology, feminist philosophy, and bioethics/neuroethics, all in the analytic tradition. 

Courses I Teach:

  • Philosophy of Mind: The Mental and the Physical
  • Logic: Laws of Thought
  • Feminist Philosophy
  • Philosophy of Science, Technology, and Environment
  • Contemporary Analytic Philosophy
  • Introduction to Philosophy: The True, The Good, and the Beautiful

The courses I teach highlight the ongoing relevance of philosophy.  For instance, Philosophy of Mind treats topics in contemporary neuroethics; Logic: Laws of Thought prepares students for the Law School Admissions Test (as well as democratic citizenship); and Philosophy of Science, Technology, and Environment examines our relationships to modern technologies and our responsibilities to nature and the environment. I also make efforts to see that learning extends beyond the classroom: I launched the Plato Lecture and am a regular host of the Philosophers' Table.

Mark Lubkowitz, PhD

Biology Department Chair, Professor of Biology
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Cheray Hall 313D
Box 283
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Post-Doctoral fellow in plant developmental genetics, The University of California: Berkeley
Ph.D., Microbiology, The University of Tennessee
B.S., Biology, Washington and Lee University

Area of Expertise:

I study how molecules are transported across membranes in plants and how these processes affect seed germination and overall distribution of sugars in plants.

Courses I Teach:

  • BI153: Introductory Cell Biology and Genetics
  • BI205: Biological Communications
  • BI247: Plant Biology
  • BI325: Molecular Biology

Workshop Materials:

Christina Root, PhD

Professor of English

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Saint Edmund's Hall 336
Box 385
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M.A., M.Phil., Ph.D. Columbia University
A.B. Bryn Mawr College

Courses I Teach:

In the English Department:

  • British Romanticism
  • 19th and 20th Century British and European Literature

In the Humanities Program:

  • Enlightenment and Revolution
  • Modern Civilization

Laura Stroup, PhD

Associate Professor of Environmental Studies and Science
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Saint Edmund's Hall 343
Box 123
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Ph.D., Geography , University of South Carolina, Columbia
M.S., Geography, University of South Carolina, Columbia
B.A., Franklin & Marshall College

Areas of Expertise:

Water Resources, Physical/Environmental Geography, Environmental Policy

Courses I Teach:

  • ES 201 Environmental Research Methods
  • ES 310 Environmental Hazards
  • ES 410 Senior Seminar
  • GG102 Introduction to Physical Geography
  • GG211 The Geography of Water

Kristyn Achilich, M.S.

Academic Program Coordinator for the Farm at St. Michael’s College; Instructor of Environmental Studies & Sciences

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Saint Edmund's Hall 129
Box 247
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M.S. University of Vermont
M.Ed. St. Michael’s College (candidate)
B.S. St. Michael’s College ‘05

Areas of Expertise:

Food Systems, Sustainable Agriculture, Experiential Education, Environmental Education

Courses I Teach:

  • Food Systems & Sustainable Agriculture
  • Environmental Education
  • On-Farm Internship Supervisor

The courses I teach highlight the need for liberal arts trained citizens to contend for some of the largest social issues of our time – equitable food and engaged education.  For instance, Food Systems & Sustainable Ag grounds systemic issues in the food system in the agriculture that supports our livelihoods.  It covers knowledge and theory of sustainable practices in the classroom and technical skills in agroecology on the farm. Environmental Education: prepares the students to see cross-disciplinary, thorough and rigorous learning opportunities in an outdoor setting and create curriculum that supports the learning opportunity whilst keeping and often building intrinsic student engagement.


Trevien Stanger

Instructor of Environmental Studies
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B.A. Saint Michael’s College
M.S. University of Montana 

Areas of Expertise:

Environmental Writing, Ecological Restoration, Wilderness Ethics, Environmental Justice

Courses I Teach:

  • Environment and Society
  • Nature and Culture
  • Environmental Research Methods
  • American Wilderness
  • Environmental Justice

My Saint Michael's

Environmental Studies can be hard work at times –– there’s no shortage of bad news in the fields of wildlife conservation, agriculture, climate change, environmental injustice, water quality, etc., and it can seem like humans cause intractable problems wherever we go. But, as an ecological restorationist and environmental educator for many years, I’ve also seen first-hand that people can discover productive, positive roles in their towns, cities, and watersheds. I believe that with the right mix of scholarship, creativity, and passion, this generation of students I’m working with now can be one of the first to not only halt environmental and social problems, but also generate new and exciting ways to tackle these issues with grit, humor, community, and an authentic commitment to service.   

black bear skull bite marks on tree

Environmental Law and Policy

Saint Michael's has an agreement with Vermont Law School that guarantees Saint Michael's graduates admission into law school providing they meet the entrance requirements. The Vermont Law School is ranked number one in the US for environmental law.  The environmental studies program at Saint Michael's provides an ideal foundation for law school through courses that shape critical thinking, analytic reasoning, and oral and written communication skills.

Study Abroad

Saint Michael's sponsors environmental study trips to places such as India, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Cuba, and the United Kingdom.  Recent topics have included Coral Reef Ecology, Sustainable Food Systems, and the Environmental and Aesthetic Study of Sustainable Places. In addition to these two or three week trips, Saint Michael's is affiliated with the School for Field Studies with longer term environmental programs in the Turks and Caicos, Bhutan, Australia, and Tanzania.

On-Campus Sustainability and Leadership Opportunities

Students at Saint Michael’s College have many opportunities to engage in projects that promote campus sustainability, raise awareness on campus and locally of pressing environmental issues, and hone leadership skills through challenging outdoor wilderness activities.  The campus organic garden offers paid summer positions and academic year volunteer opportunities, while four active environmentally-themed clubs develop environmental citizenship skills through fair trade, divestment and local food campaigns.

The number and kinds of careers in the environmental field are growing rapidly. Many organizations, including for-profit corporations and non-profit institutions, now have a sustainability office with at least one staff member taking the lead on environmental efforts. The fully interdisciplinary nature of our program prepares graduates well to work with a variety of constituencies within organizations on environmental initiatives since the skills required for that work go beyond scientific understanding of environmental problems.  Graduates of our Environmental Studies program are well prepared to pursue careers in the fields of environmental conservation, environmental management, environmental education, and "green" business.

Recent Environmental Studies graduates are working at businesses and organizations like: 

  • Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection 
  • Environmental Maintenance Contractors
  • Greenskies Renewable Energy
  • Intervale Center
  • National Parks Conservation Association
  • NextGen Climate
  • Norwich Technologies
  • Peace Corps
  • Stantec
  • Sustainable Nantucket

The program also prepare students for post-graduate study in environmental law, "green" M.B.A., environmental sustainability, environmental studies, ethics, conservation, management and policy programs.  Saint Michael's has an articulation agreement with the Vermont Law School that guarantees admission to the J.D. program or the Masters of Environmental Law and Policy program for qualified Saint Michael's College graduates.

Internships and Community Partnerships

At Saint Michael's environmental studies students are involved in partnerships with local and international non-governmental organizations, businesses and government agencies so you'll have many opportunities to make a positive contribution to environmental change while acquiring skills needed for work or graduate study.  Students do environmental internships at such places as:

  • Sopher Investments (rating environmental practices of businesses for development of green portfolios for environmentally conscious investors)
  • Native Energy (carbon-offset business)
  • Shelburne Farms (environmental education)
  • Ben and Jerry's (wastewater monitoring)
  • The Intervale (organic garden and compost facility)
  • The ECHO Center (environmental education and animal care)
  • Essex Junction Wastewater Treatment Facility (economics of utility management)
  • Keeping Track, Inc. (non-profit wildlife monitoring and citizen science organization)
  • Instituto Oceanografico (tropical ecology)
  • 350 Vermont (climate change activism)

Environmental Studies Internship at Ben & Jerry's

Environmental studies majors are very active in the college's student research programs.  Funding is available for students to conduct summer research projects working with faculty.  Recent grant-funded environmental studies student research projects include:

  • Nitrogen Pollution and Phosphorus Stress on NE Trees
  • Nature Deficit Disorder and VT Framework of Learning Standards
  • Perceptions and Reality of Energy Sources in Vermont and NH
  • Nitrogen Pollution and Phosphorus Availability on Soil Microbial Respiration
  • Organic Methods of Pest Control for VT Hops Growers
  • Totum: a Database of At-Risk-Locations
  • VT EPSCOR Water Quality Lab

TOTUS: a student research video on climate change in Alaska by Ross Henry.

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