Program Mission Statement
The mission of the BS: Environmental Interpretation degree is to provide students with an understanding of the natural processes that create and shape Earth’s environments and the skills to communicate their understanding of these processes to a lay audience. Students will become informed, critical thinkers capable of evaluating environmental processes and issues, and will develop the skills to communicate their understanding to other people, especially those with little informal training in the natural sciences. Student development occurs through a course of study that emphasizes interdisciplinary, field-based projects that have societal relevance and require them to communicate their understanding to others. Students gain authentic experience communicating their understanding of the natural world through internships that are supervised by faculty and/or non-academic mentors.
The BS: Environmental Interpretation degree is designed to prepare students to pursue career opportunities as environmental interpreters, naturalists, informal science educators, and conservation enforcement officers. The intellectual foundation of the Environmental Interpretation degree is a strong background in the field-based natural sciences in combination with courses that focus on communicating the natural sciences to the public, requires a holistic understanding of how the natural world works, and the societal implications and applications of this knowledge.
The University of Montana Western has an agreement with the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS), a recognized leader in outdoor education, which allows students to seamlessly transfer earned credits between NOLS and UMW. UMW also holds institutional membership with the National Association for Interpretation (NAI) and offers students the opportunity to take part in the Certified Interpretive Guide (CIG) curriculum and certification process as part of the BS program curriculum.
Program graduates will:
- Demonstrate knowledge about the natural processes that create and shape our environment.
- Acquire skills and methods necessary to communicate discipline-specific knowledge to others.
- Demonstrate knowledge of the concepts central to his/her field of study.
The graduate outcomes for the BS: Environmental Interpretation degree are assessed through the graduate/exit survey, employer survey, alumni survey, feedback from internship supervisors, review of collected student-generated exhibits over time, and program self-study and/or reports from external reviews. The assessment plan for the BS: Environmental Interpretation is available from the Environmental Science department.