Get involved in sustainability! You can take part in ecological restoration events, join Luther’s student-led Environmental Concerns (ECO) club, and sign up for a plot in the community garden. You can also do work-study at Luther’s Center for Sustainable Communities. Sustainability is core to our mission. We consistently rank in the top tier of baccalaureate institutions for campus sustainability.
There are many opportunities at Luther to engage in research in environmental studies, usually in collaboration with faculty members. Summer student-faculty research projects have received support from organizations like the National Science Foundation and the US Environmental Protection Agency.
While you’ll learn a ton in Decorah, we also encourage you to learn in the wider world. Take part in one of our study-away programs focused on environmental studies. Intern off campus at places like the Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation, Iowa DNR, Upper Explorerland Planning Commission, the city of Decorah, Seed Savers, Nature Conservancy, or Winneshiek Energy District. We help you connect with so many opportunities to apply your studies to the real world!
What You’ll Learn
Environmental studies takes an interdisciplinary approach to understanding the environment. All students in the major will build a foundation through core courses in biology, philosophy, earth systems, political science, and sustainability.
Beyond the environmental studies core courses, all students have the opportunity to choose a track within which to concentrate and deepen their study of the environment.
Plan one: Environmental Policy
Students in the environmental policy track will explore the ways we can organize our communities and institutions to better address environmental challenges. This track focuses on political science and economics.
Plan two: Environmental Science
Students in the environmental science track will take coursework in chemistry, biology, geology, and math to build the skills to understand the science of environmental challenges and solutions.
Plan three: Environment, Culture, and Society
Students in this track will draw upon perspectives from anthropology, history, and sociology to understand the ways human cultures and societies have shaped, and been shaped by, their environments.
Plan four: Individualized
The individualized approach allows students to develop their own concentration, in consultation with a faculty member of the environmental studies program.
Careers and Outcomes
A primary goal of the environmental studies program is to prepare you to enter the world, ready to take on a variety of environmental challenges. There are many career paths for people in environmental studies, including environmental education, policy and management, environmental science, and food systems. Our alumni are making an impact in careers across a broad range of organizations.
- Strategic communications
- Field research
- Public affairs
- Resource management
- Environmental specialist
- Logistics and project coordinator
- Conservation planning
- US Army Corps of Engineers Institute for Water Resources
- Illinois State Water Survey
- US Environmental Protection Agency
- Grand Teton National Park
- Iowa Soybean Association
- Iowa Department of Agriculture’s Mines and Minerals Bureau
- Green Iowa
- Nature Conservancy
Luther students get real-world experience working with a local landowner to restore biodiversity to land that has been formally been grazed and used for agriculture.
Many environmental studies graduates spend a year or two volunteering with various organizations. These opportunities help develop your skills, build relationships, and discover new passions. They prepare you for success in graduate programs or careers, while also providing you the opportunity to give back to society. Each long-term volunteer opportunity is unique, so you can discover one that best matches your interests.
Past Luther graduates have volunteered with the following organizations: