Environment & Sustainability

Get Involved

A college education is more than just taking courses. Meet new people, apply your skills and stretch beyond your comfort zone. Make your education an experience.

  • Clubs & Organizations: Join the Organics Guild, Sustainability Coalition or Wildlife Society. 
     
  • Coldharbour Institute: Experiment with sustainable building design, resilient food systems or community organizing in the Gunnison Valley.
     
  • Conferences: Attend the Headwaters Conference, the Colorado Water Workshop and Sage Grouse Spring Symposium.
     
  • Earthship Academy: Learn how to construct a self-sustaining building capable of producing food and saving energy.
     
  • High Country News: Check out the independent news source's new satellite office located in Kelley Hall.
     
  • Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory: Find a research assistantship at one of the premier biological research stations in the world. 
     
  • Solar Energy International: Engage in the local, regional or global conversation about the renewable energy era.

A college education is more than just taking courses. Meet new people, apply your skills and stretch beyond your comfort zone. Make your education an experience.

  • Clubs & Organizations: Join the Organics Guild, Sustainability Coalition or Wildlife Society. 
     
  • Coldharbour Institute: Experiment with sustainable building design, resilient food systems or community organizing in the Gunnison Valley.
     
  • Conferences: Attend the Headwaters Conference, the Colorado Water Workshop and Sage Grouse Spring Symposium.
     
  • Earthship Academy: Learn how to construct a self-sustaining building capable of producing food and saving energy.
     
  • High Country News: Check out the independent news source's new satellite office located in Kelley Hall.
     
  • Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory: Find a research assistantship at one of the premier biological research stations in the world. 
     
  • Solar Energy International: Engage in the local, regional or global conversation about the renewable energy era.

Profiles

Hannah White

~Student~

Headshot of Hannah White with flowers in the background
Headshot of Hannah White with flowers in the background

Hannah White

“Being so involved in so many different things you get to know all kinds of people. You get to make connections with people that just aren’t at Western.”

Hannah White is a junior from Kansas City studying Politics & Government with an emphasis in Global Studies and minors in Philosophy and Environment & Sustainability (ENVS).

When Hannah was researching different colleges, she wanted a school with a good ENVS program that was somewhat close to home. Western was a school that stood out to her most, and the rest is history.

On campus, Hannah has her toes dipped into everything she is passionate about.

“I am a Senator on Western’s Student Government Association (SGA) and an Orientation Leader for the 2019-20 school year,” said Hannah, but it does not stop there. “I am also a member of Women at Western, Vice President of the Politics Club, a member of the Women’s Student Lounge, participated in Model United Nations (UN) and a Geiman Fellow starting 2019-20 school year.”

Hannah always knew she wanted to work to protect the environment and write policies.

“When I was taking the Intro to ENVS course, I was really passionate about it. I still am, and then I took American Foreign Policy with Dr. [Maria] Struble,” said Hannah. “It made me realize that what I want to do with the environment is to write protection policies for it and to do that on the global scale. My majors and minors are how I think I can do the most with the environment.”

Because of how involved Hannah is on campus, she has a lot to choose from as her favorite part of attending Western.

“The friendships I have made here are one of my favorite things about coming to Western,” said Hannah. “Being so involved in so many different things, you get to know all kinds of people. You get to make connections with people that just aren’t at Western, because of conferences like the Model UN. The opportunities that Western has given me through these different groups and clubs have been an amazing thing.”

When Hannah gets time away from school, she likes to spend time relaxing. Her favorite spot to be is the Women’s Student Lounge in the library.

Her advice to incoming freshmen: “Get involved. Freshman year, I did not do anything besides class and hanging out in my room. What would have made that year better for me was to be involved with clubs on campus. Doing the extracurriculars really makes the college experience that much more enjoyable.”

Profile by Western junior Taya Olson.

Jonathan Coop, Ph.D.

~Faculty~

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

Jonathan Coop, Ph.D.

“We can produce high-quality research and publish papers in scientific journals with our 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 understand effects of fire, climate and insects on forests, and develop and test intervention strategies to try to maintain forests, or to make forests 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 effectively 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.”

Raised in Los Alamos, N.M., Coop vividly remembers the 1977 La Mesa Fire burning in nearby Bandelier National Monument. 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 Las Conchas Fire have only furthered Coop’s interest in the area.

“The Jemez Mountains have 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 a home in the heart of the Rockies since his arrival 10 years ago. He’s a father, mountain biker, skier, rafter, percussionist, hunter and sauerkraut-fermenter—and still finds time to work on “science projects” in his 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. “We can produce high-quality research and publish papers in scientific journals with our 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 stoked when I can give students the context and opportunities for that passion to come through.”

Scholarships

Scholarships associated with academic programs usually have a specific scholarship application form that can easily be obtained by contacting that academic program's office or visiting that academic program's web page. If you have any questions, please contact the Financial Aid office at 970.943.3085 or 800.876.5309.

Mahaffey Environmental Studies Scholarship

Available to:

Students who have demonstrated community involvement with environmental solutions, academic excellence and a dedication to mountain environments which could encompass recreational activity, personal connection or service.

Provided by:

Jim and Dianne Mahaffey

Amount:

Award depends on funds available.

Selected by:

The Environment & Sustainability Council

Application:

Application and deadline information available on the ENVS scholarships page. Or contact the Director of Environment & Sustainability at 970.943.3162 - Kelley Hall 240

Mike Martin Memorial Scholarship

Available to:

Environment & Sustainability (ENVS) majors who have a GPA of 3.0 or above. Preference will be given to a resident of Crested Butte, Colo. If no applicants meet this requirement, preference will be given to a resident of Gunnison, Colo. If no applicants meet the criteria, applicants must be a Colorado resident. 

Provided by:

The Michael Martin Community Fund

Amount:

Award depends on funds available

Selected by:

The Environment & Sustainability Council 

Application:

Application and deadline information available on the ENVS scholarships page. Or contact the Director of Environment & Sustainability Program. 970.943.3162 - Kelley Hall 108

Nauman, James D. Environmental Stewardship Scholarship

Available to:

Full-time students majoring in Environment & Sustainability (ENVS) with a minimum of 30 credits at Western. Must have made a significant contribution towards environmental stewardship while at Western. Students must demonstrate academic achievement and progress towards ENVS major.

Provided by:

Dr. James Nauman, who attended Western from 1945-49

Amount:

Award depends on funds available (anticipated award $500).

Selected by:

Environment & Sustainability Council

Application:

Application and deadline information available on the ENVS scholarships page. Or contact the Director of Environment & Sustainability Program. 970.943.3162 - Kelley Hall 108

Nauman, James D. Environmental Studies Scholarship - Freshmen

Available to:

Must have applied and been admitted to Western and have a demonstrated interest in pursuing a degree in Environment & Sustainability (ENVS). Must be enrolled full-time. Preference given to students with financial need.

Provided by:

Dr. James Nauman, who attended Western from 1945-49

Amount:

Award depends on funds available (anticipated award $500)

Selected by:

The Environment & Sustainability Council

Application:

Application and deadline information available on the ENVS scholarships page. Or contact the Director of Environment & Sustainability Program. 970.943.3162 - Kelley Hall 108

Joseph A. Kastellic Scholarship

Available to:

Full-time students who are majoring in Environment & Sustainability, Environmental Biology or a related field. Must be junior level (60 credits) or above and have a minimum 3.0 cumulative GPA. Preference given to students with financial need who are residents of the Western Slope of Colorado and have expressed interest in a career in park operations/park management or a career in the earth sciences.

Provided by:

Barbara Kastellic and gifts from others to honor Joseph, who was the first Superintendent of the Black Canyon National Monument from 1975-1984.

Amount: 

Award depends on funds available.

Application: 

Complete and submit The Joseph A. Kastellic Scholarship application which is available in the Financial Aid Office. A recommendation and a one-page essay will be needed to complete the application.

Faculty & Staff

Faculty

Kevin Alexander, Ph.D. headshot
Professor of Biology; Chair, Department of Natural and Environmental Sciences
Phone: 970.943.3405
Office Location: Hurst Hall 143C
Melanie  Armstrong, Ph.D.  headshot
Assistant Professor & Public Lands Coordinator
Phone:
Office Location: Kelley Hall 109
D. Scott Borden, Ph.D. headshot
Graduate Faculty, Master in Environmental Management Programs (MEM) & MBA in Outdoor Industry
Phone: 970.943.2294
Office Location: Kelley Hall 108
Abel Chávez, Ph.D. headshot
Dean of Graduate Studies, Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs, Associate Professor of Environment & Sustainability
Phone: 970.943.2017
Office Location: Kelley Hall 104 and Taylor Hall 322
Kate Clark, Ph.D.  headshot
Director of Undergraduate Environment & Sustainability Program; Graduate Faculty in Master in Environmental Management programs, Environment & Sustainability and Sociology programs
Phone:
Office Location: Kelley Hall 146
Jonathan Coop, Ph.D. headshot
Associate Professor
Phone: 970.943.2565
Office Location: Kelley Hall 105
Luke  Danielson headshot
Clark Sustainable Development Chair in Environment and Sustainability
Phone: 303.912.0855
Office Location: Kelley 206
Jennie DeMarco, Ph.D. headshot
Lecturer in Environment & Sustainability
Phone: 970.943.2013
Office Location: Leslie J. Savage Library 303
Dave Ellerbroek, Ph.D. headshot
Graduate Faculty for Sustainability Transitions
Phone:
Office Location:
Suzanne Ewy, JD headshot
Coldharbour Chair in Environment & Sustainability, Executive Director, Coldharbour Institute
Phone: 970.943.2023
Office Location: Kelley Hall 114A
Karen Hausdoerffer, MFA headshot
Lecturer in Environment & Sustainability
Phone: 970.943.3450
Office Location: Kelley Hall 142
John C. Hausdoerffer, Ph.D.  headshot
Dean, School of Environment & Sustainability
Phone: 970.943.3450
Office Location: Kelley Hall 142
Corrie Knapp, Ph.D. headshot
Associate Professor of Environment & Sustainability
Phone: 970.943.3154
Office Location: Kelley Hall 116
Salif P. Mahamane, M.S. headshot
Assistant Professor of Psychology; Graduate Faculty, MEM
Phone: 970.943.7037
Office Location: Kelley Hall 206
Taryn Mead, Ph.D. headshot
Graduate Faculty
Phone: 970.943.3954
Office Location: Kelley Hall 108
Brooke Moran, Ph.D. headshot
Professor of Recreation & Outdoor Education for MEM Graduate Program, Adjunct Graduate Faculty for Outdoor Industry MBA
Phone: 970.943.2118
Office Location: Wright Gym 223
Jeff Sellen, Ph.D.  headshot
Professor of Environment & Sustainability, Director of Colorado Water Workshop
Phone: 970.943.3162
Office Location: Kelley Hall 107
Lynn Sikkink, Ph.D. headshot
Professor of Anthropology
Phone: 970.943.2062
Office Location: Hurst Hall 31C
Sally Thode headshot
Lecturer in Environment & Sustainability
Phone:
Office Location: Kelley Hall 114A
Jessica Young, Ph.D. headshot
Professor of Environment & Sustainability, Master in Environmental Management and Master of Science in Ecology
Phone: 970.765.8488
Office Location: Kelley Hall 143

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.

 BIOL 130 - Environmental Biology (3 credits)

An introduction to basic biological principles as they apply to interactions between organisms and their environment. Consideration is given to biotic and abiotic interactions, energy flow, biogeochemical cycling, population growth, biodiversity, basic cell biology, genetics, and evolution with a special emphasis on human impacts on these biological systems. This course establishes a strong foundation in applied biology from a scientific perspective.

 BIOL 135 - Environmental Biology Laboratory (1 credits)

An experimental approach in both the field and laboratory to explore fundamental biological principles including biotic and abiotic interactions, energy flow, biogeochemical cycling, population growth, biodiversity, basic cell biology, genetics and evolution. Additional course fee applies. Prerequisite or corequisite: BIOL 130.

 ENVS 100 - Introduction to Environment and Sustainability (3 credits)

An interdisciplinary, historical analysis of the development of environmental problems, movements, and philosophies. Students apply historical lessons to critically examine sustainable solutions locally and globally.

 ENVS 200 - Writing the Environment (3 credits)

Students develop communication skills through presentations and writing on a variety of environmental issues appropriate to a wide variety of audiences. Through environmental essays, writing for nonprofit websites, grant proposals, and other forms of environmental writing, students are introduced to a broad range of skills needed for effective communication. Focus throughout the course on the analysis of arguments and texts further develops students' analytical and communication skills. Prerequisite: ENVS 100; COM 202 is recommended.

 ENVS 301 - Science of Sustainability and Resilience (3 credits)

A holistic inquiry into how humans might live the next chapter of our history, guided by the ecological principles of sustainability and resilience. Environmental problems and their possible solutions are analyzed critically and quantitatively; field experiences on campus and in the community involve students directly in the application of these principles. Themes include sustainable agriculture, green building, renewable energy, and conservation and restoration. Prerequisites: BIOL 130, BIOL 135, PHYS 125

 ENVS 350 - U.S. and Western Environmental Politics (3 credits)

An historical and contemporary investigation of U.S. environmental policies with an applied focus on the impact of national policy on the ecosystems and cultures of the American West. Reciprocally, this course traces how pubic lands agencies, social movements, historical land uses, and diverse cultures in the West shape U.S. environmental policy. Students combine analysis and discussion of major U.S. policies, prominent theories and issues, and student-led environmental service projects to better understand environmental challenges. Prerequisites: ENVS 100; ENVS 200 or COM 202; and ECON 370.

 ENVS 360 - Global Environmental Policy (3 credits)

A critical examination of key perspectives, economic and political processes, policy actors, and institutions involved in global environmental issues. Students analyze ecological, cultural, and social dimensions of international environmental concerns and governance as they have emerged in response to increased recognition of global environmental threats, globalization, and international contributions to understanding of these issues. The focus of the course encourages students to engage and evaluate texts within the broad policy discourse on globalization, justice, and the environment. Prerequisites: ENVS 100; ECON 201, ENVS 200 or SCI 202; junior standing or instructor approval.

 ENVS 370 - Water Policy and Politics (3 credits)

Study of the history, politics and institutions related to water policy and administration with comparative reference to different regions of the United States and internationally. Attention is given to the industrial development of the East and the created water resources of the arid West as a way to understand changing social sentiments toward water and water policy. The course also examines water pollution laws and water management. Prerequisites: ENVS 100; ECON 201 or ENVS 200 or SCI 202; junior standing or instructor approval.

 ENVS 390 - Environmental Monitoring (4 credits)

A field-work based study of local (Gunnison Basin) environmental problems. Numerous monitoring techniques are implemented based on principles of biology, chemistry, and geology. The emphasis is on collaborative and integrative group projects dealing directly with real-world environmental problems. Prerequisites: ENVS 301 and one of the following: ECON 216, MATH 213, or SOC 211.

 ENVS 400 - Applied Sustainability (3 credits)

A field-based, collaborative, problem-solving experience that addresses a current issue in environmental sustainability. Implementing frameworks such as resilient and systems thinking, students collect information, analyze results, write a report, publicly present their findings, and begin to implement solutions informed by their analysis. Students learn basic skills for transforming their ENVS education into compelling environmental professional career possibilities. Prerequisites: ENVS 350 and ENVS 390.

 ENVS 410 - Environmental Ethics (3 credits)

A seminar on the complexities of environmental issues from a philosophical perspective. The course also offers a survey of the evolution of environmental moral philosophy as well as in-depth analysis of major thinkers in the field. Students confront ethical concerns from both historical and personal perspectives, with an emphasis on the ability to critically evaluate and apply these perspectives to their work in environmental fields. Prerequisite: ENVS 301 and 350; or PHIL 335.

 HWTR 398 - Headwaters Conference (1 credits)

An annual two-day gathering on campus each fall, bringing together writers and scholars, local community leaders and activists, artists, government officials, and other interested citizens from the colleges and communities of the Headwaters Region to consider challenges and opportunities confronting the region. Students attend and participate in the conference and write a paper about the experience in the context of their own lives and future plans. Students attend and participate in the conference, complete applied research projects throughout the month following the conference, and write a paper about the experience in the context of their own lives and future plans. Student may take the course four times for additional credit. Prerequisite: junior standing or instructor permission.

 MATH 213 - Probability and Statistics (3 credits)

A course in the use of statistical techniques to draw knowledge from data. Topics include exploratory data analysis, descriptive statistics, t-procedures, ANOVA, chi squared procedures, regression, and non-parametric tests. Statistical software is used extensively to analyze real data sets. Prerequisite: MATH 141 with a minimum grade of C-, or Accuplacer university-level mathematics test score of 85 or above; or instructor permission. GT-MA1

Overview

Environment & Sustainability (ENVS) focuses on the interactions of humans and the natural environment. Students study the structure and function of natural systems; examine how social, political and economic activity impacts those systems; and experiment with resilient solutions to unsustainable human impacts. 

The Program

The ENVS program prepares students for meaningful livelihoods based on their values. Our graduates enter their fields with the skills to connect ideas, individuals and organizations. They become effective interdisciplinary communicators, and they enact positive change throughout their natural and social communities. To complement their ENVS degree, some students opt to focus in on water issues through our Water emphasis, while others design their own custom-built Individualized Contract

For students looking to accelerate their journey to a higher level career, we offer a 3+2 program which allows students to transform their senior year into the first year of graduate school in our innovative Master of Environmental Management (MEM) or Master of Science in Ecology programs. 

Careers & Opportunities

Environment & Sustainability graduates have found jobs as:

  • Policy advocates
  • Environmental consultants
  • Land managers
  • Park rangers
  • Research scientists
  • Sustainable builders
  • Sustainable food coordinators
  • Transportation analysts
  • Organizational Sustainability Coordinators

 Students have also pursued graduate and doctoral degrees in:

  • Community and regional planning
  • Conservation biology
  • Environmental humanities
  • Environmental law
  • Plant and soil science
  • Public administration

Learn More

Reach out to Kate Clark, Ph.D. for more information. 

Interested in Graduate School?

Western’s accelerated 3+2 programs allow you to earn your bachelor’s degree and master’s degree in just five years—saving you time and money.


Professor discusses solar panels on the roof of Kelley Hall

Master in Environmental Management 3+2

Natural
Behavioral
Environment
Emphasis
Master in Environmental Management, MEM, Western Colorado University, accelerated degree, 3+2, Western State, accelerated graduate degree
Students working together in a stream

Master of Science in Ecology 3+2

Natural
Environment
Emphasis
Ecology, 3+2, MS, Masters, Fisheries, Biology, Conservation Biology, Wildlife Management