Westfield State University’s Department of Environmental Science offers a hands-on, applied, interdisciplinary major in Environmental Science. WSU is one of the few colleges in the country to have an entire department dedicated to Environmental Science. The program is one of the largest and oldest environmental science programs in the Northeast.
Located on the edge of the Berkshire Mountains, Westfield State University is uniquely situated between mountains, rivers, forests, and other natural ecosystems on one side and urban areas such as Springfield, Holyoke, and Northampton on the other. This location provides numerous opportunities for field learning experiences. The major combines coursework in Environmental Science, Biology, Geography, Regional Planning, and other disciplines, while emphasizing the interdependence of the natural and social sciences. Students select from such courses as Environmental Analysis, Environmental Biology, Ecology, Aquatic Biology, Marine Biology, Natural Resource Conservation and Management, Environmental Impact Analysis, Wildlife Ecology and Management, Green Sustainable Cities, Water Resource Management, and Geographic Information Systems (GIS).
An important aspect of the major is our emphasis on fieldwork and hands-on learning, such as the Water Resource Management course’s canoe trips on the Westfield River and nearby lakes, Natural Resource Managements site visits to properties owned by different public and private landowners, Wildlife Ecology’s sessions on animal tracking, trapping, and use of remote cameras, and the senior seminar/oral field research projects. Classes are small providing much one-on-one contact with faculty. The major culminates in the capstone senior seminar, where students do independent research on an environmental topic working under the guidance of a faculty mentor. Many students undertake an Environmental Science Internship, where students work off campus in an environmental position that matches their interests. Because of the interdisciplinary nature of the major, students have the flexibility to tailor their coursework and educational experience to suit their personal interests and goals for the future.
Students typically get jobs working for environmental consulting firms; industries concerned about pollutants and toxic waste by-products; local, state, or federal government agencies; or environmental conservation groups and non-profits. The work often involves planning development; conducting research; monitoring compliance with environmental laws; monitoring air, groundwater, or surface water quality; and remediating environmental damage.
The primary mission of the Department of Environmental Sciences is to provide a service-oriented, interdisciplinary and collaborative program which helps students to:
- Develop an understanding of the natural world
- Identify problems that arise from human interactions with the environment
- Search for scientific solutions to these problems
- Develop plans to implement those solutions
The major requires 53-68 credit hours depending on the coursework the student selects.
For more information about the Environmental Science major, contact the Chair, Dr. Tim Parshall, at (413) 572-5303, or visit our homepage: westfield.ma.edu/environmental science