New minor in environmental science and policy to debut in fall


A newly created environmental science and policy minor will be available for engineers starting in the fall. 

The environmental science and policy minor is designed to offer engineers the ability to focus on policy-related environmental initiatives, according to Director of the Environmental Studies Program and Professor of Biology Colin Orians.

Previously, he said, engineers interested in environmental studies needed to complete both their degree in the School of Engineering and the 10-course environmental studies major in the School of Arts and Sciences, which only one or two engineers a year were able to accomplish.

“If they don’t decide their freshman year that they are going to be an environmental studies dual major, they really can’t do it,” Orians said.

Orians hopes the new minor will eliminate this problem. Students minoring in environmental science and policy will take six courses from both the School of Engineering and the School of  Arts & Sciences’ Environmental Studies Program, according to Associate Dean for Undergraduate Curriculum Development and Associate Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering Chris Swan.

“The minor allows engineers to capture some component of the Environmental Studies Program in just a less intense way,” he said.

Compared to the environmental engineering major, the new minor would focus more on the social and economic aspects of environmental decisions, Swan said. However, he believes the environmental engineering major and new minor work well together.

“If your pursuit is environmental engineering, this would fit in very well in that degree program as a minor,” Swan said. “Now you are going to be able to look at the cultural and social aspects, as well as the economic aspects, of these decisions that you are going to do, but you are still being the technical person in that your major degree is still environmental engineering.”

Swan said he thinks more engineers will choose to take the opportunity to study environmental policy if it is offered as a minor.

“It is a positive step for many engineers who have an interest in the social, cultural and economic aspects of the decisions that need to be made,” he said.