TCNJ launches environmental studies major

Growing concern about climate change leads to major that will be taught in all seven schools

The College of New Jersey’s School of Humanities and Social Sciences has launched an undergraduate environmental studies major to effectively address the disproportionate harm to the planet from climate change and other widespread environmental injustices.

The program, which will begin with the fall 2024 semester, is the first major at TCNJ to incorporate curriculum, course offerings, and faculty input from all seven academic schools.

In 2020, the state became the first in the country to adopt standards requiring climate change to be taught across grade levels and in nearly all subjects in K-12 public schools Diane Bates, professor of sociology and interim program coordinator, said climate change is an issue that deserves more study.

“The scientific understanding of environmental problems is necessary to determine potential solutions, but that alone is not sufficient,” she said. “We are at a critical point where we need broader and greater strategies to do something about these issues.”

That’s why it’s an all-school effort, Bates said.

“The involvement of all our academic schools is a testament to the fact that every discipline now understands that we need to work collaboratively to address these threats,” she said. “There is a greater understanding at TCNJ that disciplinary knowledge needs to be supplemented with interdisciplinary approaches.”

The field of environmental studies has exploded in recent years in virtually every area of the private, public, and nonprofit business sectors.

“We’ve seen a ton of growth in environmentally oriented jobs,” Bates said, “There is a growing focus on not only environmentally friendly products, but also environmentally friendly corporate behaviors. Graduates who are well-versed in environmental studies, especially interdisciplinary environmental studies, have more opportunities than ever before.”

Students in the program will have the opportunity to gain hands-on experience with the college’s sustainability and energy management and environmental health and safety departments, as well as the option to explore the policy side of the field through the college’s partnership with Sustainable Jersey.

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