The core courses offered in the environmental studies major ground students in the study of the environment from scientific, cultural, historical, and societal perspectives. The broad distribution of elective courses offers the ES major the opportunity to explore a wide range of interdisciplinary approaches to environmental concerns. The student may also choose to focus her elective studies. For example, a student interested in environmental science may choose to center her electives around biology, chemistry, and economics, while a student interested in global environmental issues may choose elective courses in international studies, political science, and anthropology.
The Hollins environmental studies program is distinguished by its experiential component, which requires all majors to be involved in an internship or service project in their field of interest. The program uses an interdisciplinary approach because the causes and consequences of environmental problems and the skills required to develop solutions are complex. The goal of the ES program is to provide students with a holistic understanding of enviromental issues of local, national, and global importance.
Many students do internships at environmental organizations in the Roanoke Valley, while others elect to spend January Short Term interning in Washington, D.C., New York, or their hometowns. The headquarters for the Jefferson National Forest is a 10-minute drive from the Hollins campus, and Roanoke has joined a coalition of cities working on carbon reduction.
Hollins is the first women's university to be certified by the Wilderness Education Association to offer a National Standards Program (NSP) focused on training introductory outdoor leaders and building strong leadership skills. The Hollins NSP program also offers Leave No Trace (LNT) trainer certification. The LNT certification process trains students to think carefully about the relationship of humans to their environment. Completion of this program meets the experiential requirement for the ES major.
Through our affiliation with the School for Field Studies, environmental studies majors get hands-on, research-based experience in ecology, environmental issues, and sustainable development in environmentally sensitive areas around the world (see field stations below). Students take classes, live, and eat at the field stations and do their research at nearby sites. The SFS faculty are experienced teachers and research scientists with extensive knowledge of the local cultures. All courses are counted toward the ES major. In addition to the SFS semester programs, several ES faculty offer January Short Term travel courses with an environmental focus. The Caribbean Environment offers students the opportunity to explore Caribbean island biodiversity and environmental issues while Greening the Union Jack examines sustainability efforts in Britain and Wales.
Each year, the Hollins Science Seminar highlights the many research projects Hollins students have carried out during the academic year. Students in psychology, biology, chemistry, mathematics, and environmental studies present posters that summarize their independent research initiatives, from field projects in the Caribbean to modeling interesting mathematical phenomena.