Graduates of the BSc in Environmental Science program will have a broad range of technical, communication, analytical, and interpersonal skills, together with a firm grounding in environmental science. These skill sets have been defined as requirements for employment in the environmental sector. They can be summarized as follows:
A broad technical training in the physical, chemical and natural sciences, focused on their application to environmental management and the understanding of the effects of human activity on natural systems and the health of living organisms.
- A broad training in social-cultural issues, economics, ethics, business, legal and government regulation fields, focused on their application to balancing societal development needs with environmental sustainability.
- An understanding of the more significant industrial processes and other human activities that can affect the environment, along with the technology and management strategies to prevent, control and remedy those effects.
- Skills to communicate effectively, think creatively, deal effectively with conflict and risk, solve problems systematically and to use the relevant tools (computers, sampling and analytical, monitoring, technical references, etc.).
- Practical experience in the application of key elements of the above.
Given these learning outcomes, it is clear that a conventional curriculum, organized by departments and taught by disciplinary specialists each responsible only for a specific section of the curriculum is inappropriate. To produce a graduate in which all the requirements of the program are well integrated, so that they understand environmental science as a complex professional undertaking which involves a great many skills operating simultaneously, requires a program which stresses integration in its basic structure and in the learning environment. This accounts in part for the integrated, interdisciplinary modular structure of the program.
If through the integrated modular design, the student experiences the program as a totality, rather than as an aggregate of unrelated courses taught by individuals who have little to do with each other, then the major task of integrating all the specific outcomes becomes that much easier to achieve, and many of the important outcomes will be realized in the process of the co-operative learning which goes on. In addition, the rapid pace of the program will require the richest possible social context to enable students to cope with the pressure.
In addition, the curriculum will be project driven as much as possible, that is, the classroom instruction should be linked as closely to field, laboratory or research projects which the students plan, carry out, report upon, and critique, as well as upon case studies and legal judgments of issues directly relevant to environmental science. The main emphasis in the curriculum is not on covering all the possible content that a student might need to know in a variety of future tasks, but on the skills necessary to acquire and apply the relevant knowledge in particular situations. Demonstrated competency in carrying out particular tasks which mirror the outcomes would thus be a more important principle than passing conventional examinations assessing the student's mastery of a well-defined content.
Similarly, in developing analytical and critical thinking skills, the interdisciplinary modular program would stress case studies, practical examples of environmental problems and solutions, which the students would read, discuss, report on, and evaluate. In this way, the most wide-ranging issues of environmental studies would be linked, as much as possible, to the student's direct experience of practical and immediately relevant examples.
All students will bring to the program certain analytical skills, knowledge, and awareness of environmental issues. The major aim of the pedagogy in the program will be to increase the student's ability to analyze problems, to recognize the complexity of environmental issues, and to apply problem solving skills to particular environmental problems. This is a far more important goal than increasing the sum total of the student's knowledge of environmental science. Hence, the methods of pedagogy and assessment in the program will stress the process of learning, with, for example, continuous evaluation of the development of environmental awareness and problem solving skills, as demonstrated in the carrying out of particular projects, major and minor, rather than a series of final exams to test the student's retention of the content of particular modules.
Finally, given the importance in the list of outcomes of communication and interpersonal skills, the integrated nature of the program seeks to foster a learning environment in which the students can learn from each other in a number of different situations, rather than going through the program isolated from the group of peers (as is frequently possible in a traditional discipline-based academic undergraduate education) or in a repetitive classroom format. The objectives which are best realized by practice in interpersonal relationships are properly fostered only if the curriculum requires and encourages the students to deal with each other on a day-to-day basis in a variety of problem solving tasks.
Specific Outcomes for the Program
Mastery of Background and Key Fundamental Concepts
- Demonstrates broad level of skills and knowledge in written communication and English.
- Demonstrates broad level of skills and knowledge in algebra, geometry, calculus, and statistics.
- Demonstrates broad level of skills and knowledge in basic principles of chemistry.
- Demonstrates broad level of skills and knowledge in cellular biology, biochemistry, physiology and ecology.
Communication, teamwork and personal qualities
- Produce written material.
- Take part in discussions and make presentations.
- Perform effectively as a team member in a variety of situations and circumstances.
- Work with, encourage and help others.
The language, concepts, models and techniques of science and management
- Understand, select and use appropriate statistical techniques.
- Describe the evolution and elements of environmental management tools.
- Describe the structure and function of the atmosphere and hydrosphere.
- Describe the development of environmental statutes and regulations and the linkages between them .
- Explain the processes used in selected primary and secondary industries.
- Describe the fundamentals of surface and groundwater movement.
- Explain the fundamentals of chemistry as they apply to our natural environment.
- Describe the concepts and principles of economics.
- Describe the concepts and principles of land use planning and their application to coastal zone management.
- Describe the structure, form and evolution of natural landscapes.
- Explain the fundamental principles of microbiology and biochemistry.
- Describe and evaluate ecotoxicological principles and tools.
- Describe ecosystems, their underlying structural and functional components, and their response to stressors.
- Describe the fundamentals of entrepreneurship and business decision making.
- Formulate and defend a moral argument or code of ethics.
- Describe the fundamental principles guiding water and wastewater treatment and handling.
- Describe the fundamental principles guiding air quality management and the issues which surround it.
Data collection techniques
- Collect meteorological data for analysis.
- Collect data for hydrological analysis.
- Sample collection and analysis of chemical samples.
- Collect soil data for physical and taxonomic classification.
- Collect microbiological data.
Critical thinking/Problem Solving
- Select and use information and data to critically assess a situation or problem and identify possible actions.
- Creatively analyze and interpret issue scenarios and recommend solutions.
- Plan, implement and monitor appropriate strategies to monitor the problem.
- Assess the potential impact of human activity on the environment and how it may be lessened or eliminated.
- Describe the principal values that affect sustainability.
- Identify and analyze sustainable development issues.