Director: Teofilo Abrajano, Jr.
Program Home Page: http://www.rpi.edu/dept/envsci
Environmental issues continue to be prominent in the lives of everyone. Essentially no place on the planet has escaped perturbation resulting from activities of an ever-growing human population. The challenge is to maintain those attributes of the Earth that make it habitable while at the same time providing for human needs. Science will play an absolutely critical role in enabling technological civilizations to move toward sustainable interactions with the natural world.
While effective environmental scientists must be rigorously educated in one area of science, they must have a perspective far broader than any single science discipline affords. In fact, cognizance of considerations beyond just the sciences is also required. Rensselaer’s environmental science degree addresses these challenges with a multifaceted program.
The Environmental Seminar considers topical environmental issues from numerous perspectives. Through it, students receive a broad overview of environmental challenges in preparation both for their major and for leadership roles in environmental science.
A guided selection of courses in the Humanities and Social Sciences broadens perspective and understanding of the human approach to and interactions with the natural world. Two courses, IENV 4500 and IENV 4700, taken in the final two years of study, enable the student to grasp the broadly varied, interdisciplinary dimensions of the natural environment and its human dimension. The requirement for an intensive environmental experience is an overt acknowledgement that environmental science is a discipline concerned with the natural world.
The science core of 38 credit hours gives each student a common core of 10 courses that introduces important approaches for understanding the natural world. The student-elected concentration in one of the traditional scientific disciplines gives depth in one area of science. With judicious use of the 28 credit hours of electives, a student can prepare to pursue a number of career options including graduate study in the concentration discipline.
Research Innovations and Initiatives
The School of Science offers numerous opportunities for advanced study. Some examples include the impact of acid rain on the Adirondacks, characterization of subsurface microorganisms with the potential for bioremediation, PCB and other contaminant analysis in the Hudson River, studies of aquatic biota in Lake George, and nitrogen cycling in local ecosystems. Students are encouraged to seek research opportunities in environmental science as described in each of the traditional scientific disciplines.
R.F. Bopp, C.W. Boylen, S.J. Breyman, J.M. Gowdy, G.M. Korenowski, P.D. Persans, W.L. Siegmann.