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About the Major

Environmental Studies addresses the challenges of creating a just and sustainable future in the face of the climate crisis, environmental problems, and inequality from local to global scales. At Hamilton, students in Environmental Studies work with interdisciplinary faculty in environmental justice, environmental data science, and climate change, as well as with faculty from other disciplines to develop the skills and perspectives needed to tackle these problems.

Students Will Learn To:

  • Explain the causes of, impacts of, and potential solutions to climate change
  • Analyze how history, power, and identity shape environmental justice 
  • Apply appropriate research methods to answer a research question about a pressing environmental problem 

A Sampling of Courses

human migration

Changing Arctic Ecosystems

An examination of the primary literature on environmental and climate change in Arctic and sub-Arctic ecosystems. We will investigate the interplay between anthropogenic, physical, and biological processes in high latitude regions. We will explore current research on the cycling of water, carbon and energy throughout high latitude ecosystems and the potential for these regions to amplify global climate change.

Explore these select courses:

What is a carbon footprint? Is it a useful concept? What are the scientific, social and economic implications of measuring environmental impacts through the billion dollar industry of sustainability accounting? In seeking to answer these questions, this course uses the concept of the carbon footprint as a lens through which to understand and critically assess scientific, economic practices and social discourses around sustainability as it is practiced across American and global society today.

Archaeology offers the opportunity to examine social-ecological systems over long time scales. This course explores different ways of conceptualizing these systems and considers major topics such as: decreasing biodiversity, traditional ecological knowledge, human-environment interactions related to food production, social responses to natural disasters and climate change, and resilience and collapse of past societies. We’ll engage with discussions on sustainability and our ecological impact on the environment.

This interdisciplinary seminar examines environmental justice as a movement and concept. We interrogate and discuss the historical role of racism, heteropatriarchy, colonialism and globalization in (re)producing and justifying place-based environmental contamination and toxicity. Through close analysis of case studies in the US and the Global South, students analyze and present on how disenfranchised groups have made political demands, scaled up, forged solidarities, asserted climate justice, challenged state and corporate projects and conducted citizen science in rural and urban settings.

What should humanity’s relationship with the environment look like, and why? Explores theoretical and practical debates surrounding the environmental challenges of our time. Key topics and controversies in the history of environmental political thought will be discussed. Students will be encouraged to develop their own vision of the proper relationship between human society and the environment in the 21st century.

This course will focus on the application of statistical programming for big data associated with ongoing environmental issues. Students will gain experience in statistical programming throughout the entire data life cycle including data management and provenance, analysis, visualization, and communication. Students will learn the fundamentals of applying statistical modelling and machine learning for making predictions and inferences for environmental data. Students will also learn considerations of data science that are unique to environmental data including spatial, temporal, ethical, and justice concerns. Environmental topics will include climate change, pollution, natural disasters, and agricultural impacts.

Meet Our Faculty

Andrea Townsend

Associate Professor of Biology, Director of Environmental Studies

aktownse@hamilton.edu

behavioral ecology, disease ecology

Andrea Townsend

Associate Professor of Biology, Director of Environmental Studies

aktownse@hamilton.edu

behavioral ecology, disease ecology

Wyatt Galusky

Visiting Assistant Professor of Environmental Studies

wgalusky@hamilton.edu

Heather Kropp

Assistant Professor of Environmental Studies

hkropp@hamilton.edu

environmental data science, ecohydrology, ecology, and geospatial analysis

Onno Oerlemans

Elizabeth J. McCormack Professor of Literature

ooerlema@hamilton.edu

Romantic period literature; animals in literature; animal rights; nature writing – literature and environmentalism; cultural and political history of the Adirondack Park

Onno Oerlemans

Elizabeth J. McCormack Professor of Literature

ooerlema@hamilton.edu

Romantic period literature; animals in literature; animal rights; nature writing – literature and environmentalism; cultural and political history of the Adirondack Park

Todd Rayne

Joel W. Johnson Family Professor of Environmental Science

trayne@hamilton.edu

hydrogeology and environmental geology

Todd Rayne

Joel W. Johnson Family Professor of Environmental Science

trayne@hamilton.edu

hydrogeology and environmental geology

Aaron Strong

Assistant Professor of Environmental Studies

astrong@hamilton.edu

climate change, carbon accounting, climate resilience, renewable energy, and coastal and marine systems

Aaron Strong

Assistant Professor of Environmental Studies

astrong@hamilton.edu

climate change, carbon accounting, climate resilience, renewable energy, and coastal and marine systems

Jason Townsend

Lecturer in Environmental Studies

jtownsen@hamilton.edu

conservation biology, agroecology, ornithology, Nearctic-Neotropical migratory birds, and ecotoxicology

Jason Townsend

Lecturer in Environmental Studies

jtownsen@hamilton.edu

conservation biology, agroecology, ornithology, Nearctic-Neotropical migratory birds, and ecotoxicology

Alma Lowry

Lecturer in Environmental Studies

alowry@hamilton.edu

Explore Hamilton Stories

sustainability feature

Toward a Sustainable Future

Ellie Sangree ’24 arrived for her first semester at Hamilton equipped with more than the usual college essentials; she came with a concept for an experiment.

Utica historical imagery

Historical Imagery Offers Clues to Utica’s Evolution

Communications and Marketing Office student writer Claire Williams ’25 describes how as a research assistant for Assistant Professor of Environmental Studies Heather Kropp, she is using data science to explore the geography of the past.

Emily Benson '23 Semester at Sea

Benson ’23 Sails the High SEAs

Emily Benson ’23 spent the fall semester with the Sea Education Association (SEA) program studying coral reef ecology. She sailed aboard the SSV Corwith Cramer through the Caribbean, beginning and ending in St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands.

Careers After Hamilton

Hamilton graduates who concentrated in environmental studies are pursuing careers in a variety of fields, including:

  • Corps Member, Teach for America
  • Chair, Department of Rheumatology, Cleveland Clinic
  • Trip Leader, Naturalists At Large
  • Alaska Representative, Defenders of Wildlife
  • Policy Coordinator, National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration
  • Clinical Research Coordinator, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute
  • Program Assistant, Natural Resources Defense Council

Contact

Department Name

Environmental Studies Program

Office Location
198 College Hill Road
Clinton, NY 13323

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