Welcome to Environmental Studies
The natural setting that surrounds the city of Walla Walla, Washington, provides Whitman College's Environmental Studies Program with a superb living laboratory in which to study a wide range of issues associated with the interactions between humans and nature. In addition to the agricultural, grazing and timber activities that make up the predominant economic uses of the land of southeastern Washington and northeastern Oregon, environmental studies students have ready access to a great number of resources: the Columbia and Snake rivers with many large hydroelectric dams, the Hanford site (U.S. Department of Energy); the McNary National Wildlife Refuge and other wetlands; U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Walla Walla District); Natural Resources Conservation Service (U.S. Department of Agriculture); the U.S. Forest Service, which includes the Umatilla National Forest - Walla Walla Ranger District and the Wenaha - Toucannon Wilderness Area, Oregon coal generating plant; and the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation, particularly the Tamastslikt Cultural Institute, based in Pendleton, Oregon.
The program introduces students to a wide variety of perspectives that examine the many connections between humans and nature. To do this, the program combines a broad set of relevant courses in the natural and social sciences as well as the humanities. The basic preparation can then transfer easily to further graduate training or to an immediate career in research, policy, or some other professional environmental direction.
The hallmarks of the Whitman program are its multidisciplinary organization, and local and regional in empirical emphasis. Students wrestle with the challenges, and come to understand the necessities, of an interdisciplinary approach in the elucidation of any environmental problem. They develop a literacy in understanding their Walla Walla environmental address, so they can appreciate the deep links between their temporary community and the surrounding human and natural environments. Field trips and internship opportunities are a vital part of this experience.