Western Carolina University’s Environmental Science Program prepares students to become professionals in the field and protectors of the environment. Through hands-on, service-based learning, students develop expertise in evaluating human effects on the environment and sustainably restoring land and water ecosystems. Because the program is small, students have the flexibility to customize the interdisciplinary curriculum to reflect their own interests. They receive abundant individual attention from expert faculty from the disciplines of biology, chemistry, geosciences and natural resource management. Graduates work in environmental positions with a variety of agencies, organizations and businesses or choose to enter law or graduate school.
The curriculum includes courses in chemistry, biology, environmental health sciences, geology and natural resources. The major is divided into three areas: foundation, quantitative and electives. All students take foundations courses such as Careers and Issues in Environmental Science, and Senior Seminar in Environmental Problems, a community-serving project in which students apply their knowledge to solve real problems. Students also choose one course from each of the following four foundations categories: geographic information systems, environmental health, environmental policy, and environment and society. On completion of their foundations coursework, they develop an individualized plan of study for their remaining degree program. Many students choose to enhance their studies through various outreach and community organizations such as The Environmental Stewardship Club and the WCU GeoClub.
WCU environmental science graduates enjoy a wide range of career and educational options. Graduates may choose to attend law school or graduate school, perhaps concentrating their studies in an environmental science subdiscipline. Graduates entering careers might find work in environmental positions with government agencies, consulting firms, manufacturing businesses, watershed associations and conservancies, non-profit organizations, and state and federal land management agencies. Other environmental options include jobs in conservation, monitoring, protection, policy, research, education and planning.