Environmental Studies (B.A.)
Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences and Faculty of Natural and Applied Sciences
Dr. David R. Clements and Prof. Karen M. M. Steensma, Coordinators
TWU offers a multidisciplinary Environmental Studies Program by combining strengths from three main departments across two faculties: the Geography Department in the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, and the Biology and Chemistry Departments in the Faculty of Natural and Applied Sciences.
The purpose of the program is to develop godly leaders with solid scientific and technical skills who are actively growing in their creative, problem solving, and thinking abilities developed within the context of a liberal arts education. This background, combined with a biblical Christian perspective on the environment, helps future leaders offer innovative, creative, and effective solutions to the challenging task of creation stewardship.
The environmental field requires knowledge of geography, biology, and chemistry, and insights from other disciplines within the natural and social sciences. Such knowledge is indispensable when dealing with complex issues such as species habitat, the remediation of a polluted site, renewable and non-renewable resources, ecological conservation and restoration projects, spatial and statistical analysis, air quality, global warming, and environmental toxicology. At the same time, a person working in environmental studies often faces social, political, ethical, and philosophical issues that both affect and go beyond the science. Indeed, significant environmental debates are usually rooted in values and beliefs. Thus, the program strives to prepare the environmental professional by building a solid core of scientific subjects, based on the ethical foundation of Christian thought and practice.
The Christian and the Environment
The foundation of the Environmental Studies program is the fact that God is. He is the creator as revealed in Scripture. There may be pragmatic reasons for caring for the environment, but even if no other reason exists, with Francis Schaeffer we believe creation has intrinsic value because God created it. God saw all that He had made, and it was very good. We recognize that aspects of the creation are fallen as a result of sin, but also that God continues to care for and sustain the creation. In Psalms we see God in an intimate relationship with creation—He “make[s] the grass grow for the cattle” (104:14) and the lions “seek their food from God” (104:21). In Job we see a similar relationship; He even “counts the months” until the “doe bears her fawn” (39:1-2). God has at times made covenants not only with man, but with all of creation (Genesis 9:8-17). If He is concerned about His creation, we should be also.
Our Christian perspective also affirms the value of humanity: “Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? And not one of them shall fall to the ground apart from the Father. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Therefore do not fear, you are more valuable than many sparrows” (Matthew 10:29-31). This tells us that while a creature as common as the sparrow is valuable to God, people are even more valuable. Isaiah 45:18 reminds us of this fact: “For this is what the LORD says—He who created the heavens, He is God; He who fashioned and made the earth, He founded it; He did not create it to be empty, but formed it to be inhabited.” We don’t view humanity as a blight on the planet. Rather we seek the goal of understanding and living responsibly with and in the environment of which we are a part. We are created in the image of God and have, among other things, the responsibility of tending the creation. Thus, in our perspective, environmental paradigms for behaviour, management, and solutions to problems should consider all the creation and its interrelationships, including human relationships and needs.
Taking care of the environment should not be something out of the ordinary; it is a normal Christian duty. There may be debate as to how that may be best accomplished. That debate is part of the exploration and growth at TWU.
Both B.A. and B.Sc. degree programs in Environmental Studies are offered at TWU (For the B.Sc. degree requirements, please see the listing under Faculty of Natural and Applied Sciences). The B.A. in Environmental Studies is designed to equip students to meet the challenges of planning and policy-making that accompany wise environmental management. It uses a broad interdisciplinary base to ground a holistic appraisal of the issues involved in, and the practical application of, environmental management, planning, and policy. Courses either have content that is directly relevant to these areas, or they employ concepts that have value in dealing with environmental problems. The broad interdisciplinary range is coupled with enough flexibility to fulfil more specific interests in biology, political studies, business, or geography. In addition, combinations of courses in Geography, Business, Political Studies, or Biology could lead to an Environmental Studies focus in the Education program. This program serves as excellent preparation for careers in environmental law; environmental journalism; land use planning; government agency, industry or non-government organization (NGO) work; and environmental education. Approved course credits that are part of the TWU Laurentian Leadership Centre count towards the Environmental Studies, B.A. degree.
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This page contains official TWU academic program information.