Proposed minor spotlights environmental concerns

Interdisciplinary environmental studies minor addresses scientific and socioeconomic aspects

Eleven departments were involved in the creation of a proposal to add an environmental studies minor to the Whitworth curriculum. The proposal will be sent to the curriculum committee in November, and faculty will vote on it in the spring.

The proposed minor is an interdisciplinary approach that encompasses a broad range of academic studies. It addresses both the scientific and socioeconomic aspects of environmental issues.

The minor will encourage students to think critically and consider their impact on the environment in all aspects of their lives.

“To be a responsible citizen of the world, you need to be informed not only about political implications on the environment, but also the implications of your daily life,” senior and peace studies major Abbey Cook said.

The planned core class requirements for the minor are Introduction to Environmental Science, on the biology side, and Environment and Society, on the political science side.

The minor would be housed in the biology department, but it would not be just valuable to science majors.

“Our hope is to incorporate all different disciplines and study how they influence or can be influenced by environmental issues,” said Grant Casady, assistant professor of biology.

Beyond the two core classes, the minor will require 15 elective credits with at least one course each in natural science, social sciences and humanities. One upper division course will also be required.

To fulfill these credits, students would be able to select courses in biology, chemistry, physics, political science, sociology, theology, English and history.

This minor is designed so that courses fit into students’ studies, which is why some courses at each level fulfill general education requirements, Casady said.

The environment is not a singular issue, Cook said. She said people are interconnected as an ecological system and need to be educated on how humans affect the environment. Being informed in this way produces well-rounded students, she said.

Students from other majors  also find value in the new minor. The environmental issue is still very alive in politics, sophomore and business major Joy Attaway said.

“‘Going green’ is not going away. I thought it was a fad, but it’s actually a big political issue,” Attaway said.

Casady expressed that societally, the environment is one of the most important issues of the day, and because of this students should worry about it.

Sophomore Eli Deitz expressed a similar view.

“It is important to know the details of science in order to make informed policies that affect the environment,” Deitz said. “I’ve become aware of current issues in the environment, so that transfers into wanting to protect the environment.”

Deitz aspires to become a farmer and stresses the importance of sustainability in agriculture.

Whitworth does take steps to be environmentally friendly, Cook said. However, there is more that can be done.

“Creation care is something that needs to be focused on,” Cook said.

She suggested that the school could save on time, energy and money by no longer using machinery to pick up pine needles.

“Whitworth, stop vacuuming the lawn,” Cook said.

Besides the great breadth of academic disciplines that the minor would complement, it also supports Whitworth’s mission to educate the mind and heart.

According to the environmental studies minor proposal, “the minor also provides students with the opportunity to be better equipped to honor God by learning to care for his creation, to follow Christ by reflecting in their lives and actions his purposes for creation and to serve humanity by pursuing environmental justice and caring for future generations by carefully stewarding the earth.”

If the environmental studies minor passes the faculty vote in spring, it will be implemented and offered as a minor in fall 2013.

Kendra Stubbs Staff Writer

Contact Kendra Stubbs at kstubbs15@my.whitworth.edu.