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Ithaca College announces the creation of the Department of Environmental Studies and Science, which will house its degree programs in environmental studies and environmental science. The designation of the new academic department acknowledges the importance of these majors in the priorities of the College and the role they will play in the future of the School of Humanities and Sciences, within which the department is located.

The college began offering the environmental studies major in 1998 and environmental science major in 2005. Both programs — which lead to a bachelor of arts degree — have grown tremendously, with nearly 100 students currently enrolled in one of the two. That growth is expected to continue as the concept of sustainability becomes increasingly important and increasingly appealing to students.

“There’s a palpable energy and vitality that characterize our educational programs in environmental studies and environmental science,” says Leslie Lewis, dean of the School of Humanities and Sciences. “It’s no wonder we’re bursting at the seams with numbers of students. This level of interest is terrific, and contributes to our standing at the forefront of sustainability initiatives.”

The two majors had previously been under the umbrella of the environmental studies program. Both are interdisciplinary in nature and blend coursework in the sciences and in the humanities. The environmental studies degree provides a practical foundation for a career in government agencies, nonprofit organizations and industry as well as solid preparation for both graduate school and law school. The degree program in environmental science shifts the focus of study more toward a rigorous science curriculum. Graduates go on to careers in areas such as aquatic toxicology, wildlife conservation, environmental education, solar technology and renewable energy.

Last fall the environmental studies program received a $500,000 Commit-to-Change grant from the HSBC in the Community Foundation to support the development of educational and outreach activities. A charter signatory to the American College & University Presidents Climate Commitment, the college has also been recognized with two Campus Sustainability Leadership Awards from the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE).

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