The Buzz About Environmental Studies

Photo courtesy of Dr. Scullion.Photo courtesy of Dr. Scullion.

Are you interested in learning about the environment? Are you curious on how to solve problems for the environment effectively? Or do you want to know how to manage the environment? If you are saying yes to all of those questions, the environmental studies major is the perfect fit for you.

“Environmental Studies offers three specializations: policy and management, biology, and chemistry,” said Dr. Mona Becker, the department chair. Becker advises the students that specialize in biology and chemistry. She teaches the core science courses that students need for the major. Her colleague, Dr. Jason Scullion, teaches courses related to environmental policy.

Photo courtesy of Jeremy Simon.

Dr. Becker’s Environmental Problem Solving class. Photo courtesy of Jeremy Simon.

Becker’s advisees graduate and go into careers in environmental sciences. Some of them will also work for local, state and federal organizations, as environmental technicians and field technicians. Others choose to go to graduate school.

Outside the classroom, Becker serves on the Westminster City Council, having been involved with local politics since last year. Additionally,  Becker is on the board for the Maryland Association of Science Teachers and has previously served as President of the organization. Becker also serves on the Scenic Monocacy River Citizens Advisory Board. Her research also goes beyond her roles at McDaniel, with a major project taking place in West Virginia for the last five years.

Becker thinks it is important that students major in Environmental Studies because of the amount of environmental problems that exist today. There will need to be good solutions to these problems. Job growth in the field is above average. She thinks it is also important that students know how to make good choices for the environment.

Dr. Scullion's Sustainability class. Photo courtesy Jeremy Simon.

Dr. Scullion’s Sustainability class. Photo courtesy Jeremy Simon.

Scullion advises students that want to go into policy and management; students who specialize in this field learn how to manage the environment. Students can become forest rangers or wildlife technicians. Some work in advocacy and some are consultants. In policy, some students may go on to work for the Environmental Protection Agency. Some students will be policy analysts looking at policy impacts and some will become professors or teach elementary school.

The courses that Scullion teaches are Sustainability, Environmental Management, Environmental Policy, and Conservation Biology.

“I like all of them, they are all really interesting, and they attract different groups of students,” Scullion said. The course he enjoys the most is Conservation Biology because that is his specialty. He is also a forest conservationist so he has knowledge of the discipline. He finds that students enjoy taking the course, and at the end of the course, they go camping in West Virginia in the wilderness. They are also restoring a creek at McDaniel’s Singleton-Mathews Farm for their final project this semester. Students do a lot of fun projects, and he enjoys that about teaching the course.

Outside of the classroom, he is Assistant Dean of Academic Affairs, where he works to increase experiential opportunities for McDaniel students and helps to manage the summer session program.

Students going camping at Matthew-Singleton Farm. Photo courtesy Dr. Scullion

Students going camping at Matthew-Singleton Farm. Photo courtesy Dr. Scullion

“Students interested in the environment should understand environmental policy. At the end of the day, when the rubber meets the road, it is the law,” Scullion said. “What is enacted in the law is what happens on the ground, so if professionals do not know about the law, things will move well past us and we will not be able to conserve and restore the environment.”

Becker and Scullion work together to make a successful educational experience for students in the Environmental Studies Department in learning both the science and the policy sides.