UC offers new environmental studies degree

Bachelor of arts program approaches study through history, philosophy, writing

By Bryn Dippold

The University of Cincinnati’s College of Arts & Sciences has announced a new environmental studies Bachelor of Arts program to complement its current Bachelor of Science degree. The new interdisciplinary program will take a more humanities-focused approach to the discipline, exploring environmental history, philosophy, literature and writing, society and culture, and the implementation of environmental policies.

The new degree is designed to to fill the areas of knowledge that environmental studies students have wanted in the curriculum, such as writing-heavy courses and a more humanities-based approach, says David Stradling, professor of history and chair of the committee for the environmental studies BA program.

UC professor of history David Stradling, chair of the committee which formed the environmental studies BA.

UC professor of history David Stradling, chair of the committee which formed the environmental studies BA.

The committee which oversaw development of the program was comprised of faculty from the departments of English, anthropology, geography and philosophy. “We had a diversity of disciplines represented at the table,” Stradling says. “We came up with a curriculum that represented the kind of diversity of the field and the diversity of approaches that one can take to studying the environment.”

Eduardo Martinez, UC philosophy professor on the committee, says he is excited about the role of philosophy in the environmental studies BA. “The hope is that environmental studies BA students will also be enriched by other parts of the philosophy curriculum,” he says. “Philosophy already is a discipline that’s rife with interdisciplinary opportunities, because it deals with such general conceptual content that overlaps with interests that people have in sociology and economics, physics and chemistry.”

Martinez teaches an environmental ethics course that focuses on the values, principles, arguments and theories behind environmental concerns. He says environmental ethics and philosophy can lead to many career opportunities, such as politics, working with an environmental activism nonprofit and/or environmental writing. These prospective careers would work for any environmental studies BA student, as well, due to the interdisciplinary nature of the program.

There's an urgency in solving environmental problems, and talking about them, examining them and writing about them is absolutely essential.

David Stradling, UC professor of history

As part of the new program, many existing environmental studies courses will be used to satisfy requirements, such as Environmental Policy, Global Environmental History and Race and the Environment in American History. The most important class, according to Stradling, will be a methods class that explores environmental studies methods from a social science and humanistic point of view.

Since environmental studies is a growing field, the hope is that the addition of the BA to UC may appeal to incoming students. Stradling stresses the passion behind environmental studies students. “We don’t do it because it’s popular, but because we really believe in it,” he says. “There’s an urgency in solving environmental programs, and talking about them, examining them and writing about them is absolutely essential.”

Currently, there are no formal internships or co-ops planned to coincide with the new BA program, but the environmental studies BS program recently launched a co-op track that may inspire and inform the newer program. Recruitment for the environmental studies BA program will begin fall 2022 with the first group of students arriving in fall 2023.

Featured image at top: Foliage. Photo/Sonia Dauer for Unsplash.