Hands-on environmental studies

United States International University emphasizes a practical, well-rounded environmental education.

by David Bainbridge, ES USIU Program Coordinator, San Diego, and David Stea, ES USIU Mexico City
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:
  1. 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;
  2. 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;
  3. The systems behavior and interdisciplinary requirements for environmental problems solving are emphasized;
  4. 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.
  5. Its emphasis on environmental problem solving, developing students ability to analyze environmental problems and work with people toward solutions.
The proposed program directly addresses USIU's Mission Statement: Students learn practical erosion control through hands-on experience on the USIU campus.

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