Would you love to be outside in a hands-on, practical learning environment, rather than cooped up in the classroom? Do you feel called to care for God’s creation? Are you interested in the environment and fields such as biology, chemistry, geography, or geology but are unsure of which discipline to pursue? Then Environmental Studies at Trinity Western University may be an excellent choice for you!
Environmental Studies is a multi-disciplinary program offered by the Department of Geography and Environment which combines the strengths of a variety of disciplines across two faculties: the Faculty of Humanities and the Faculty of Natural and Applied Sciences. This provides you with a holistic understanding of issues that cross a variety of fields, opening up a wide range of employment opportunities.
You will learn from a faculty with extensive expertise in areas such as ecological restoration, sustainable agriculture, marine biology, landscape ecology and chemical ecology, and be equipped to pursue careers in areas such as environmental protection, hazardous waste disposal or remediation, environmental consulting, natural systems and resource management, environmental education and communication, or environmental research.
Through this program, you will examine some of the most significant issues facing the planet, such as pollution, species protection, urbanization, population growth, and climate change. You will discuss the complexities of promoting ecosystem sustainability while also maintaining important areas as agriculturally sustainable to ensure that the planet remains fed. You will also gain hands-on experience in environmental stewardship and management through a variety of field trips, as well as through research and work opportunities. A degree in Environmental Studies prepares you for a career that will truly make a difference in the world.
Why Pursue Environmental Studies at TWU?
TWU is situated in a region with wide biodiversity—marine, freshwater and montane habitats are all easily accessible, most within minutes of campus. In fact, the Ecosystem Study Area, which contains westcoast rainforests and a portion of the protected Salmon River, offers you unique study opportunities and is located right on the main campus! Nearby the Blaauw Eco Forest offers similar opportunities, including researching the rare flora and fauna of a peat bog. You will also have opportunities to conduct field research at locations such as TWU's own Crow's Nest Ecological Research Area on Salt Spring Island, or at other field locations in Hawaii, the Great Lakes, Florida, Africa, India, Central America and the South Pacific through organizations such as the Au Sable Institute of Environmental Studies and the Creation Care Study Program. Additionally, TWU has a partnership with A Rocha Canada which allows learning and work experience in a Christian-based conservation organization.
TWU's Unique Perspective
The goal of the Environmental Studies program at TWU is to develop godly leaders who possess solid scientific and technical skills and are actively growing in their creative, problem-solving, and thinking abilities. We believe that these skills are best developed within the context of a Christian liberal arts education, in which a biblical perspective on the environment will help future leaders offer innovative and effective solutions to the challenging task of creation stewardship.
The environmental field requires knowledge of biology, chemistry, geology, and geography, as well as 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 polluted sites, renewable and non-renewable resources, ecological conservation, restoration projects, land-use planning, spatial and statistical analysis, air quality, global warming, and environmental toxicology. At the same time, a person working in environmental studies will often face social, political, ethical, and philosophical issues that both affect and go beyond the science. Indeed, significant environmental debates are usually rooted in beliefs and values. Thus, the program strives to prepare students for the environmental profession by building a solid core of scientific knowledge that ranges across the disciplines, all of which is based on the ethical foundation of Christian thought and practice.
The Christian and the Environment
The foundation of the Environmental Studies program at TWU starts with the fact that God is the Creator as revealed in Scripture. There may be pragmatic reasons for caring for the environment, but even if no other reason exists, we believe that creation has intrinsic value as God's creation. “God saw all that He had made, and it was very good” (Gen 1:31). We recognize that, as a result of sin, aspects of the creation are fallen, and therefore imperfect, but we also believe that God continues to care for and sustain His creation. In Psalm 104, we see God in an intimate relationship with creation; Job 38 and 39 describe a similar relationship: He even "counts the months" until the "doe bears her fawn" (39:1-2). God has made covenants not only with humanity itself, but also with all of creation (Gen. 9:8-17). This should give us enough reason to be concerned about the world around us.
In addition to this belief about creation, our Christian perspective affirms the value of humanity. “Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of your Father. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don't be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows” (Matt 10:29-31). This tells us that while common creatures such as the sparrow are valuable, people are valued even more. “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” (Isaiah 45:18). We do not view humanity as a blight on the planet. Rather, we seek the goal of understanding and living responsibly in and with the environment of which we are a part. We are created in the image of God and have, among other things, been given the responsibility of tending the creation (Gen 2:15). Thus, in our perspective, environmental paradigms for behaviour, management, and solutions to problems should consider all of the creation and its interrelationships, including human relationships and social justice.
At TWU, we believe that taking care of the environment should not be seen as something special; it is a normal Christian duty. However, there are many debates as to how this may be best accomplished, and it is these debates that are part of the exploration and growth offered in the Environmental Studies program.
Within the Environmental Studies Program, there are four main emphases to choose from, three leading to a B.Sc. and one leading to a B.A. Regardless of emphasis, there are specific core courses required of all ENVS majors, covering the areas of Geography, Biology, and Chemistry, as well as a couple of courses that are specific to Environmental Studies, including an undergraduate thesis. To view a list of the Environmental Studies core courses as well as courses required for each of the four emphases described below, click here. To access the program checklists for each emphasis, click here and look for Multidisciplinary Studies under the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences (B.A.) or the Faculty of Natural and Applied Sciences (B.Sc.).
NATURAL SYSTEMS AND RESOURCES EMPHASIS (B.SC.)
By far the most popular of the ENVS emphases, this degree is a hybrid of both geography and biology. It is ideal for those interested in wildlife, reclamation, parks, ecological restoration, forest systems, marine systems, agriculture, land use planning, environmental consulting, resource management, conservation, and other naturalist occupations.
BIOCHEMICAL EMPHASIS (B.SC.)
This emphasis is ideal for those interested in applying chemical knowledge to biological systems, environmental toxicology, health effects, bioremediation, phytoremediation, biogeochemistry, applied chemistry, hazardous waste disposal, global elemental cycles, environmental consulting, chemical ecology, agriculture, pesticides, and toxic organics.
PHYSICAL AND ANALYTICAL EMPHASIS (B.SC.)
This emphasis focuses on physical and chemical processes, mechanisms, and the analysis of environmental parameters. It is ideal for those interested in environmental monitoring (industrial, agricultural, natural), environmental cleanup, environmental chemistry, environmental laboratory analysis, hazardous waste storage and remediation, biogeochemistry, global warming, environmental consulting, and energy issues.
ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT AND PLANNING EMPHASIS (B.A.)
This emphasis is geared to the planning, policy-making, and education aspects which accompany wise environmental management. Those interested in environmental law, land use policy, urban and regional planning, environmental consulting for business, academic, government or non-government agencies (including mission organizations), and elementary or secondary education will find this a flexible track. The greater number of elective choices allows a combination environmental studies/education major which fulfills the teachables required for the education program.