The Environmental Science Taskforce, chaired by Dr. Richard Ford and comprised of faculty from WSU, developed a plan in Sept. 2019 with the aim of bringing a new degree to WSU students. The university is realizing that plan in the fall.

WSU’s new Environmental Science degree is designed for students to sculpt their own educational emphasis while putting together a variety of electives.

Beginning Fall 2020, students, especially those interested in exploring science degrees, can declare the Environmental Science major.

The program will begin with many “flexible electives” from which students pick and choose, ranging from chemistry, botany, zoology and microbiology.

Currently, WSU has state-of-the-art equipment available to students, such as instruments that have the ability to sample water and break it down to a chemical level.

Chairman of the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences Dr. Marek Matyjasik said students document where water samples are taken, receive training on how to save the samples and put all the results together in a final project.

“Even in General Education courses, students can collect a water sample for their projects,” Matyjasik said.

Students should not expect to be stuck in the classroom through their time in the major because of the highly-integrated study curriculum, as well as the geographic location of WSU campus.

Public Relations and Outreach Coordinator for the College of Science Alicia “Ali” Miller said that students “will have more say as to how those courses blend together, to really look at complex issues such as climate change, sustainability, natural resources and then the ecosystem and the conservation of it.”

This allows for students to gravitate to the scientific discipline they are most passionate about, while still getting out-of-the-classroom experience such as field work, group study and participating in the hands-on environmental aspects of learning.

Matyjasik said that the new program belongs in the College of Sciences.

“All departments in the College of Sciences can participate in the program,” he said.

The Science Departments at WSU invite students to find out more about the new program and how it might benefit their educational experience and lifelong goals. Ford is the academic advisor for the new program.

WSU’s Science Departments and faculty have high hopes that this will be the start of a long tradition of a new standard to scientific education at WSU.

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