Hands-on environmental studies
by David Bainbridge, ES USIU Program Coordinator, San Diego, and David
Stea, ES USIU Mexico City
United States International University emphasizes a practical, well-rounded
ne of the most common and realistic criticisms of environmental
studies curricula is their focus on environmental problems. This type of
program is hard on students because the magnitude of problems can be very
depressing and the job market is very limited for graduates who can recite
the rate of tropical deforestation or the nature of ground water pollution
- but cannot develop or implement solutions to more immediate problems.
The program we have developed at USIU is very different
and meets the needs of potential employers and the local and global environment.
The program is one of the very few of its kind available at an undergraduate
level. It combines five factors, some of which are offered in other programs;
but no other program that we know of combines all five:
The proposed program directly addresses USIU's Mission
- Its international and multicultural flavor, in terms of (a) the three
sites at which the program will eventually be offered, (b) course material
taught, (c) students involved, and (d) the field sites to be visited;
- Its emphasis upon the relation between environment and society and
the critical contributions of the social, cultural, and behavioral sciences
to sustainably managing and restoring the environment;
- The systems behavior and interdisciplinary requirements for environmental
problems solving are emphasized;
- Its "hands-on" emphasis, which establishes opportunities
for students to relate classroom material to environmental practice in the
context of classes, field study, and internships. This is essential to provide
nonspecialists with career opportunities.
- Its emphasis on environmental problem solving, developing students
ability to analyze environmental problems and work with people toward solutions.
Students learn practical erosion control through hands-on
experience on the USIU campus.
- Ecological thinking is, and must by its very nature be, higher order;
- Global understanding is achieved by exposure, through both study and
travel, to the environmental issues and cultural values and traditions that
prevail in various parts of the industrialized and developing world;
- A multicultural perspective will be achieved through a three-campus
program, and multicultural groups of students working together to meld their
- Preparedness for career: as the accompanying program statement indicates,
there are many areas in which broadly trained environmental specialists
work; environmental internships and field studies will help even more in
achieving this goal;
- Community service: our approach is basically "bottom up,"
in that we will be trying to demonstrate the utility of environmental studies
through direct involvement in environmental concerns of campus, surrounding
community, urban center and the borderlands.
The Environmental Studies major helps prepare students
for managerial and policy positions in various governmental and non-governmental
agencies that deal with environmental issues; private companies with strong
environmental involvement through resource extraction, use or pollution
risk, land development, environmental consulting firms, universities and
associated research institutes.
Other possible career areas include environmental education,
credit brokering, environmental mediation and negotiation, tourism, urban
and regional planning, entrepreneurship, national and state park systems,
and indigenous peoples' organizations.
For further information contact David Bainbridge, Environmental Studies
Coordinator, Department of Liberal & Interdisciplinary Studies. (619)
635-4616. FAX: (619) 635-4730; 10455 Pomerado Road, San Diego, CA 92131-1799