The ESS Major at Merrimack
Education with Purpose, Commitment and Engagement
The Environmental Studies and Sustainability (ESS) Program is an interdisciplinary program recognizing that current and future generations of students will be faced with the challenge to re-think, re-design and re-create how humans make use of all our natural resource based systems.
The driving force behind the ESS Degree Program is to educate our students to meet these challenges and prepare them to contribute and succeed in the emerging sustainable economy.
Our curriculum is truly interdisciplinary weaving together courses in environmental science, social science, humanities, business and economics. Students will develop competencies in all areas of sustainability. Through the curriculum, ESS students explore:
- How philosophical, economic, political, scientific and cultural ideas and activities shape our conception of and behavior toward the natural environment and how the natural environment in turn affects society
- Human connections to the physical and natural world
- Ethics and values
- How natural systems function
- Methods in environmental studies
- Technological and economic relationships to sustainability
- Motivating environmentally sustainable behavior
The degree program is built around four interlinking components: Curriculum, Campus Sustainability, Community Engagement and Global Context. Integrated together, they provide a powerful synergy.
ESS students receive a rich undergraduate experience with opportunities to build competencies in sustainability while taking advantage of opportunities for community engagement, internships, independent research, service, study abroad and employment.
The curriculum is designed to be rigorous yet flexible. There is flexibility in the exact sequence and semester offerings of many courses that allows ESS majors opportunities to minor or major in another discipline. Minors and double majors are encouraged to provide students with additional disciplinary depth.
ESS students will experience and engage in the applied aspects of Environmental Studies and Sustainability. All students are required to participate in a Community Internship in the junior year and a Senior Capstone Project that immerses students in sustainability projects with teams of students, faculty and community partners. All majors also participate in Sustainable Merrimack and in planning and implementing the Annual Sustainability Symposium on campus.
Tracking in the ESS Major
Environmental Science - This track is for students who have interests in the pure and/or applied sciences, including Biology, Chemistry, Health Science or Engineering. Students will explore the intersection between science and society, recognize the interdependencies between human society and the natural world, explore how environmental problems are inherently interdisciplinary and the role science plays is helping solve problems.
Environmental Policy - This track will examine what constitutes effective environmental policy and how we achieve it to protect the environment and ourselves. The track will focus on both domestic and global environmental issues with an emphasis on both federal and local environmental policy. Students will examine, analyze, and actively participate in exploring how social, political and economic values influence environmental policy, and vice versa, how federal and local policies (including regulations, taxes, laws, and incentives), influence values.
Environmental Justice - Students taking this track will be exposed to the economic, ethical, historical, and political dimensions of the interaction between nature and society not only to understand how environmental problems often arise from power relations and unequal control over natural resources, but also to appreciate why we have a duty to address these problem and to identify strategies for responsible action that can lead to social change.
Sustainable Business - This track focuses on the delivery of economic, social, and environmental business performance where students apply models, tools, best practices and frameworks to incorporate social and environmental dimensions into daily operations of businesses. Students will gain awareness of basic environmental science, energy management, social science and business concepts and issues related to sustainable development. Students will recognize the challenges of sustainable development as well as the opportunities and limits for the private sector in meeting these challenges.
For more information, contact the ESS Program Co-Directors:
Dr. Jon Lyon
Co-Director, Professor of Biology
Dr. Rose-Mary Sargent
Co-Director, Professor of Philosophy