Master in Environmental Management

Profiles

Jonathan Coop, Ph.D.

~Faculty~

Jonathan Coop smiles at the camera
Jonathan Coop smiles at the camera

Jonathan Coop, Ph.D.

“I’m really proud we can produce high-quality research and publish papers in scientific journals with my students. We’re out on the cutting edge of our field learning the things we don’t know yet."

Jonathan Coop, Ph.D. is a forest ecologist who studies how natural systems are affected by land use, fire suppression and climate change. Coop works with land managers to test, develop and look at intervention strategies to try to maintain forests and systems, or to make forests and systems more resilient in a time of certain change.

“I think there are reasons to be deeply pessimistic,” he said. “Looking at the state of the natural environment and our effects on it and how affectively we are addressing that or not, getting really depressed and pessimistic is a very rational response … but there is evidence that society can change in response to changing values and information. It just requires getting to a certain threshold or critical mass.”

Born and raised in Los Alamos, New Mexico, Coop vividly remembers the 1977 La Mesa Fire. In the decades to follow, the 1996 Dome Fire and 2000 Cerro Grande Fire sparked Coop’s interest to conduct his dissertation research in his hometown. More recent blazes such as the 2011 La Conchas Fire have only furthered Coop’s interest in the area.

“[Los Alamos] has been a formative landscape for me. I have a vivid memory of being in my backyard and seeing this plume of smoke and little pieces of ash falling on my town,” he said. “I’m seeing the effects of these unintentional human influences on the natural environment … and they are super gnarly.”

Now a professor 250 miles up the road from his hometown, Coop has found home in the heart of the Rockies since his arrival ten years ago.  He’s a father, mountain biker, skier, rafter, percussionist and sauerkraut-fermenter—and still finds time to work on “science projects” in this free time. In the classroom and field, Coop puts particular attention on involving his students in real research.

“It’s never like, ‘oh you’re the student and I’m the professor,’” he said. “I’m really proud we can produce high-quality research and publish papers in scientific journals with my students. We’re out on the cutting edge of our field learning the things we don’t know yet. I’m really stoked about it.”

Coop’s interest in involving his students in research runs deeper than producing papers. Sure, it’s a way to pique their interest and is a surefire resume-bolster for students, but the interest they take thereafter is the torch that will carry ecological research and action into future generations.

“My students have taught me why I should be hopeful about the future of the world,” he said. “My biggest accomplishments are when I’m able to get them excited about what I’m excited about. And I don’t want to take too much credit for that because I think it’s already all in there, but I’m proud when I can give students the context and opportunities for that passion to come through.”

Melanie Armstrong

Melanie Armstrong brings scholarly and applied political approaches to her work with Western’s Center for Environment & Sustainability, where she also serves as Public Lands Coordinator. 

Melanie Armstrong brings scholarly and applied political approaches to her work with Western’s Center for Environment & Sustainability, where she serves as Public Lands Coordinator. Her background includes a master’s degree in communications (Ohio University, 2003), a doctorate in American studies (University of New Mexico, 2011), postdoctoral work in both environmental history (University of California, Davis, 2012-13) and cultural geography (University of California, Berkeley, 2013-15) and a career with the National Park Service.

She teaches courses on public lands, environmental policy, politics of nature, management skills and environmental history. Her goal as a teacher is to inspire students to be critical thinkers and communicators who are driven to work for justice in whatever career they pursue. She aims to turn the classroom into a space that forges transformative interactions with the world at large, which will last long after students graduate.

She mentors students who are working with governments and communities to address issues in complex, cultural and scientific landscapes. Her students have developed projects in wilderness stewardship with the U.S. Forest Service, visitor education with the Bureau of Land Management and strategic planning with the National Park Service. She has also mentored students in community organizing, including a local initiative to protect legislatively public lands in Gunnison County. These projects have generated documents that are used extensively by land managers at all levels, creating networks of stakeholders who continue to work together in the community.

Her research uses fine-grained historical research and ethnography to study how nature transforms social relations, pulling diverse theories and methods from geography, history and science studies to entangle ideals of nature with political practices. She is author of “Germ Wars: The Politics of Microbes and America’s Landscape of Fear” (University of California Press, 2017) and coauthor of “Environmental Realism: Challenging Solutions” (Palgrave Macmillan, 2017). “Environmental Realism” examines how solutions-oriented language limits collective action, arguing that new ways of thinking and speaking about environmental issues are vital to addressing modern socio-environmental challenges. Solutionist thinking perpetuates a problem-solution-problem cycle that elides the reality that human systems and biophysical systems are deeply entwined.

“Germ Wars” presents a similar scrutiny of environmental landscapes, showing how massive expenditures on disease control throughout human history emerge from the belief that nature—in this case microbes—can be managed through cultural practices. This book aims to show how the work to secure the nation against disease binds citizenship, governance and justice to new ways of knowing nature and life itself.

During her 15-year National Park Service career, she participated firsthand in the political actions that shape the natural and cultural landscapes of the American West and contemplating how social ideals of "wilderness” and “conservation” materialize through environmental management. This career provided a laboratory for exploring how deeply-seated ideas of nature are inscribed in the landscapes of the West and Southwest, informing her teaching and scholarship, and building her desire to understand how powerful stories of nature shape the modern social experience.

Francis Mitalo

~~

Headshot of Francis Mitalo
Headshot of Francis Mitalo

Francis Mitalo

“It is a skills-based master’s, which pushes you to learn theory and put those lessons into action.”

Francis Mitalo is a 2018 Alumnus of the Master in Environmental Management (MEM) program. Francis learned about the program as a senior manager for Eco2librium in Kenya, one of the major B-certified corporate partners of the Global Sustainability track which applies business solutions to solve social and environmental problems. There, he spearheaded the installation of more than 50,000 energy efficiency stoves, planted of more than 10,000 tree seedlings and installed solar energy kits in the Western Kenya community. He focused on climate mitigation and energy efficiency working on consumer behavioral changes in partnership with the Nest, an organization that makes smart home energy products. 

“As an international student, I felt welcomed into the MEM community. I regularly consulted with my accessible professors and fellow students while implementing my graduate project in the Gunnison community with passion, experience and newly-gained knowledge,” Mitalo said.  

His faculty member was Abel Chavez, Ph.D.,
 who is an internationally-recognized expert in climate mitigation. 
 

Lindsey Lunsford

~Alumnus~

Lindsey Lunsford Headshot
Lindsey Lunsford Headshot

Lindsey Lunsford

Lindsey Lunsford's work towards a healthier community contributes to the rural south's reclamation of the "Carver Way of Life," impacting the health of many communities.

As a Master of Environmental Mangement candidate, Lindsey Lunsford has been interested in resilient and sustainable communities. 

Currently, she works in Tuskegee, Alabama, running a farm and encouraging youth  in underprivelged communities to lead healthier lifestyles. 

Read more about Lindsey's work, along with the work of other people of color working in agriculture, in this piece from Yes! Magazine, "After a Century In Decline, Black Farmers Are Back And On the Rise."

Ayodeji Oluwalana

“I recommend this program for anyone who wants to grow professionally and that wants more than to go through the motions of grad school, but wants to be well-equipped life after school. You have to have the right skill set, the right mentality, an ‘I can do it’ spirit to be able to be competitive out there. That’s what the program gives you.” Read More 

Oluwalana Ayodeji is a Nigerian Master's of Environmental Management candidate with a vast wealth of sustainable and leadership experiences in community-level waste mitigation and diversion.

He has led a non-profit organization in Nigeria that focused on seeking full local citizen engagement on effective waste management practices. While at Western, Ayodeji was a campus sustainability coordinator involved in the quantification of solid wastes generation, as well as composting activities at the Earth tub in Rare Cafe at Western Colorado University.

He immigrated with his family from Nigeria to Gunnison to study intensively in the program. Students have the option to study in full-residency or low-residency through program’s distance learning option, which is aimed for committed environmental professionals actively involved in their home community. Regardless of which option they choose. The program values the global perspectives its students bring and it has partnerships with organizations around the world.

Oluwalana emphasized the practical experience he is gaining moving beyond the theoretical nature of the classroom. Through thought-provoking discussions with his classmates, a close relationship with his professors, he is constantly challenged. “I am pursuing projects I would have never thought of,” he said.

Before working towards his MEM degree at Western, Oluwalana spent over six years working for Covenant University in Ota, Nigeria, on improving the university’s waste management systems. Before this he received his bachelor’s degree in Environmental Management & Toxicology from the Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta. Oluwalana hopes to bring his passion for waste management with universally applicable ideas to the Gunnison Valley.

As part of the Sustainable & Resilient Communities Track, Oluwalana hopes to spread critical awareness of the importance of recycling practices to campus. He plans to “upcycle” underutilized plastics to develop affordable housing structures.

“I recommend this program for anyone who wants to grow professionally and that wants more than to go through the motions of grad school, but wants to be well-equipped life after school. You have to have the right skill set, the right mentality, an ‘I can do it’ spirit to be able to be competitive out there. That’s what the program gives you.”

Faculty & Staff

Courses

FOR REQUIRED COURSES AND DEGREE PLANS, VISIT THE OFFICIAL UNIVERSITY CATALOG. This is a sample of courses offered by Western Colorado University. To ensure the courses you need are offered during the current semester, please visit the university course search.

 ENVS 601 - INTRO TO ENVIRONMTL MGMT (5 credits)

An introduction to the MEM program, to bioregional and resilient approaches to environmental management, and to the environmental stakeholders, problems, solutions, and learning laboratories of the Gunnison Valley. Requires two-week residency in Gunnison during culmination of course.

 ENVS 605 - SCIENC OF ENVIRONMENTAL MGMT (3 credits)

Provides a rigorous and hands-on overview of the principles and methods of environmental science. Students gain practical experience with a range of laboratory, field, and analytical approaches, with a focus on current environmental research in the Gunnison Basin.Topics include water quality, riparian condition, rangeland monitoring, forest health, threatened and endangered species, air quality, conservation, and ecological restoration. Students develop skills in scientific literature searches, writing monitoring protocols, ensuring quality data collection, databasing, statistical analysis, interpretation of results, written and oral communication, and peer review. Prerequisites: ENVS 601.

 ENVS 608 - ENVIRONMENTL POLITICS POLICY (3 credits)

Analysis of the key interactions between environmental policy and management, focusing on environmental decision-making within an array of policy contexts. Emphasis is on important federal policies such as the Clean Water Act and NEPA, with additional attention to relevant state and local policies. Prerequisites: ENVS 601

 ENVS 611 - INTEGR SKILLS IN ENVIRNMT MGMT (3 credits)

Course focuses on developing and managing environmental projects and organizations. Students develop a thorough understanding of integrative assessment, adaptive management, and triple bottom line strategies. Students apply these approaches to the development of professional skills such as organizational development, conflict management, and environmental communication. Prerequisites: ENVS 601

 ENVS 611 - INTEGR SKLS IN ENV MGMT DISCUS (0 credits)

Course focuses on developing and managing environmental projects and organizations. Students develop a thorough understanding of integrative assessment, adaptive management, and triple bottom line strategies. Students apply these approaches to the development of professional skills such as organizational development, conflict management, and environmental communication. Prerequisites: ENVS 601

 ENVS 612 - QUANT SKILLS IN ENVIRMTAL MGMT (3 credits)

An overview of a range of quantitative analytical methods and statistical approaches essential to environmental management careers in both Integrative Land Management and Sustainable and Resilient Communities. Topics covered include descriptive and inferential statistics, databasing, geographic information systems, and graphic presentation of results. Course empowers students to organize, analyze, and graphically present environmental data. Prerequisite: ENVS 601.

 ENVS 615 - SCI OF CLMTE MITAGTN ADAPTAT (3 credits)

An investigation of the science of climate change, with an emphasis on mitigation and adaptation strategies for careers in environmental management. Students will develop an understanding of the principles of atmospheric and earth sciences that form the scientific basis of climate change and survey the large body of evidence of anthropogenic warming. Topics include greenhouse gas emissions, climate forcings and feedbacks, observed and projected climate changes, effects on ecological and human systems, and the opportunities and challenges of a diverse suite of strategies for climate change mitigation and adaptation at the local, regional, and planetary scale. Prerequisite: ENVS 605.

 ENVS 616 - ENVIR ORG DEVELP AND MANAGMENT (3 credits)

An introduction to developing organizations at the nexus of economic, social, and natural systems, and to the key skills necessary to succeed in this complex and highly competitive environment. Course discusses competitively advantageous strategies and practices organizations adopt to grow revenues, cut costs, improve market share, enhance brands, and redesign products and processes toward positive environmental and social impacts. Course examples will include sustainable innovation, creativity, and entrepreneurship from around the world. Students learn to identify the best opportunities, generate innovative non-profit and for-profit business models, frame and reframe problems, produce creative solutions, and generate a culture of innovation, creativity, and entrepreneurship within an organization utilizing principles from a variety of thinking methods including systems, design, and group thinking. Prerequisites: ENVS 605; ENVS 608; ENVS 611

 ENVS 617 - GLOBAL SUSTAINABILITY (3 credits)

An exploration of how international governments, NGOs, and other entities join to move the world toward a more sustainable future. Addresses contemporary topics such as industrial ecology, international natural resource management, sustainable development, and other relevant areas of study. Students develop skills in accessing, assessing, and applying social, economic and environmental data and practices to global issues. Prerequisites: ENVS 605; ENVS 608; and ENVS 611.

 ENVS 618 - PUBLIC LANDS MANAGEMENT (3 credits)

An exploration of the current and traditional approaches to public land and resourcemanagement. A regional focus on the Western U.S. is integrated with comparativeexamples from other regions and countries to enhance and broaden student perspectives. Course examines the history and future management implications of public lands agencies and policies, such as the National Parks, National Forests, Bureau of Land Management, NEPA and multi-use mandates. Special focus will be given to the management skills necessary in leading public lands agencies on the regional level. Prerequisites: ENVS 605; ENVS 608; ENVS 611.

 ENVS 620 - STUDYIN: MKT SOC CAUSES (3 credits)

An examination of selected topics covering the content understanding, analytical skills, and management approaches vital to cultivating sustainable and resilient communities. Topics include subjects such as Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation, Sustainable Food Systems, Sustainable Energy Futures, Sustainable Economic Development, Movements in Community Resilience, and Frameworks in Sustainability. This course is repeatable, since students are required to take this course three times, as long as the topic changes. Prerequisites: ENVS 616 or ENVS 617.

 ENVS 620 - STUDYIN:BLDG PLANNING COMM (3 credits)

An examination of selected topics covering the content understanding, analytical skills, and management approaches vital to cultivating sustainable and resilient communities. Topics include subjects such as Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation, Sustainable Food Systems, Sustainable Energy Futures, Sustainable Economic Development, Movements in Community Resilience, and Frameworks in Sustainability. This course is repeatable, since students are required to take this course three times, as long as the topic changes. Prerequisites: ENVS 616 or ENVS 617.

 ENVS 620 - STUDYIN:SUSTAIN LEAD CONSULT (3 credits)

An examination of selected topics covering the content understanding, analytical skills, and management approaches vital to cultivating sustainable and resilient communities. Topics include subjects such as Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation, Sustainable Food Systems, Sustainable Energy Futures, Sustainable Economic Development, Movements in Community Resilience, and Frameworks in Sustainability. This course is repeatable, since students are required to take this course three times, as long as the topic changes. Prerequisites: ENVS 616 or ENVS 617.

 ENVS 620 - ENVIRONMENTAL ENTREPRENEURSHIP (3 credits)

An examination of selected topics covering the content understanding, analytical skills, and management approaches vital to cultivating sustainable and resilient communities. Topics include subjects such as Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation, Sustainable Food Systems, Sustainable Energy Futures, Sustainable Economic Development, Movements in Community Resilience, and Frameworks in Sustainability. This course is repeatable, since students are required to take this course three times, as long as the topic changes. Prerequisites: ENVS 616 or ENVS 617.

 ENVS 623 - NEPA (3 credits)

An examination of selected topics covering the content understanding, analytical skills, and management approaches vital to environmental management. Topics will vary from semester to semester based on faculty interest and student need. This course is repeatable, as long as the topic changes. Prerequisites: ENVS 616 or ENVS 617 or ENVS 618.

 ENVS 623 - STUDYIN: CONFLICT RESOLUTION (3 credits)

An examination of selected topics covering the content understanding, analytical skills, and management approaches vital to environmental management. Topics will vary from semester to semester based on faculty interest and student need. This course is repeatable, as long as the topic changes. Prerequisites: ENVS 616 or ENVS 617 or ENVS 618.

 ENVS 623 - STUDYIN: STRATEGIC ALLIANCES (3 credits)

An examination of selected topics covering the content understanding, analytical skills, and management approaches vital to environmental management. Topics will vary from semester to semester based on faculty interest and student need. This course is repeatable, as long as the topic changes. Prerequisites: ENVS 616 or ENVS 617 or ENVS 618.

 ENVS 623 - STUDYIN:CONSERV CORRIDORS (3 credits)

An examination of selected topics covering the content understanding, analytical skills, and management approaches vital to environmental management. Topics will vary from semester to semester based on faculty interest and student need. This course is repeatable, as long as the topic changes. Prerequisites: ENVS 616 or ENVS 617 or ENVS 618.

 ENVS 623 - STUDYIN:GEOSPATIAL ANALYSIS (3 credits)

An examination of selected topics covering the content understanding, analytical skills, and management approaches vital to environmental management. Topics will vary from semester to semester based on faculty interest and student need. This course is repeatable, as long as the topic changes. Prerequisites: ENVS 616 or ENVS 617 or ENVS 618.

 ENVS 625 - STUDYIN: PLANTS AND SOILS (3 credits)

An examination of selected topics covering the content understanding, analytical skills, and management approaches vital to cultivating sustainable and resilient communities. Topics include subjects such as Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation, Sustainable Food Systems, Sustainable Energy Futures, Sustainable Economic Development, Movements in Community Resilience, and Frameworks in Sustainability. This course is repeatable, since students are required to take this course three times, as long as the topic changes. Prerequisites: ENVS 617 or ENVS 618.

 ENVS 625 - STUDYIN:SUST RANGELAND MGMT (3 credits)

An examination of selected topics covering the content understanding, analytical skills, and management approaches vital to cultivating sustainable and resilient communities. Topics include subjects such as Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation, Sustainable Food Systems, Sustainable Energy Futures, Sustainable Economic Development, Movements in Community Resilience, and Frameworks in Sustainability. This course is repeatable, since students are required to take this course three times, as long as the topic changes. Prerequisites: ENVS 617 or ENVS 618.

 ENVS 625 - STUDYIN:WILDERNESS MANAGEMENT (3 credits)

An examination of selected topics covering the content understanding, analytical skills, and management approaches vital to cultivating sustainable and resilient communities. Topics include subjects such as Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation, Sustainable Food Systems, Sustainable Energy Futures, Sustainable Economic Development, Movements in Community Resilience, and Frameworks in Sustainability. This course is repeatable, since students are required to take this course three times, as long as the topic changes. Prerequisites: ENVS 617 or ENVS 618.

 ENVS 625 - TBD (3 credits)

An examination of selected topics covering the content understanding, analytical skills, and management approaches vital to cultivating sustainable and resilient communities. Topics include subjects such as Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation, Sustainable Food Systems, Sustainable Energy Futures, Sustainable Economic Development, Movements in Community Resilience, and Frameworks in Sustainability. This course is repeatable, since students are required to take this course three times, as long as the topic changes. Prerequisites: ENVS 617 or ENVS 618.

 ENVS 625 - ECO MONITORING AND ANALYSIS (3 credits)

An examination of selected topics covering the content understanding, analytical skills, and management approaches vital to cultivating sustainable and resilient communities. Topics include subjects such as Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation, Sustainable Food Systems, Sustainable Energy Futures, Sustainable Economic Development, Movements in Community Resilience, and Frameworks in Sustainability. This course is repeatable, since students are required to take this course three times, as long as the topic changes. Prerequisites: ENVS 617 or ENVS 618.

 ENVS 625 - NEPA (3 credits)

An examination of selected topics covering the content understanding, analytical skills, and management approaches vital to cultivating sustainable and resilient communities. Topics include subjects such as Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation, Sustainable Food Systems, Sustainable Energy Futures, Sustainable Economic Development, Movements in Community Resilience, and Frameworks in Sustainability. This course is repeatable, since students are required to take this course three times, as long as the topic changes. Prerequisites: ENVS 617 or ENVS 618.

 ENVS 690 - MEM PROJECT DEVELOPMENT (5 credits)

An introduction to the Master’s Project. Course examines environmental project design strategies, successful environmental solutions, and organizations/community stakeholder groups seeking environmental management assistance from MEM students in the Master’s Project. Students design, plan, and coordinate second year Master’s Project with faculty mentors and community stakeholders. Requires two-weeks residency in Gunnison during culmination of course. Prerequisites: MEM Core

Using the ecological diversity, natural resource wealth and emerging sustainable community movements of the Colorado Rockies as its central classroom, Western’s Master in Environmental Management (MEM) offers interdisciplinary training for building environmental and community resilience.

We are different from your typical master's program, offering a project and portfolio tailored to your environmental career vision, a distance exception for bringing in professional and global perspectives and a commitment to experiential education through our unique block schedule allowing you to focus on one or two courses at a time.

Tracks 

Learn more

Ready to start your next chapter? Apply today.