Program Mission Statement
TThe mission of the BS: Environmental Sustainability degree is to provide students with an in-depth understanding of the natural processes and human impacts that create and shape our environment, as well as hands-on training in professional skills through field-and-project-based learning
Environmental scientists are critical to address today’s pressing environmental challenges. In studying environmental sustainability, students will engage in interdisciplinary, field-based research projects that have societal relevance and require them to communicate scientific understanding to diverse audiences. Montana Western’s unique X1 course scheduling offers students the opportunity to practice and enhance their practical and professional skills to prepare them for a wide range of environmental careers. All students take core sustainability courses that foster data collection and inquiry, critical thinking, leadership, as well as oral and written communication skills. To meet student needs and professional interests, students can choose from two different tracts: Environmental Naturalist and Natural Resources Stewardship. Within these options students can focus their physical science education in the geological, hydrological, or biological sciences. Through GIS, conflict resolution, and stakeholder engagement training, students will be developing technical as well as communication, leadership, and personal reflection skills that will serve them beyond the classroom.
Many careers for those with BS: Environmental Sustainability degrees are available in natural resources management and public outreach and education. The degree prepares students for entry-level positions in many state and federal agencies as well as in private industry and non-profit organizations as environmental managers, watershed coordinators, educators, naturalists, mediators, and sustainability specialists. The degree also provides excellent preparation for human-environment graduate programs.
To best prepare students to address pressing complex environmental challenges and promote a more sustainable future, students are required to either internship for direct experience in a professional setting or write a thesis that prepares students for an environmental career or graduate research.
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 partners with Yellowstone Forever and offers students the opportunity to become a Certified Interpretive Guide (CIG) as part of the BS program curriculum.
Program graduates will:
- Have Disciplinary Knowledge
- Demonstrate knowledge about the human and natural processes that create and shape our environment
- Can explain local and global environmental sustainability challenges to a lay audience
- Can contribute to solutions-oriented sustainability projects
- Have Intellectual Skills
- Show competency in data and field-based inquiry and analysis
- Demonstrate critical and creative thinking
- Can work independently and collaboratively to problem-solve real-world environmental challenges
- Have Practical and Professional Skills
- Are able to compete in a competitive job market
- Are able to craft clear and compelling academic arguments
- Are able to competently write scientific papers, professional reports and public informational material
- Are able to deliver oral presentations on original research or topics within environmental sustainability
- Have Personal and Social Responsibility
- Are aware of local and global environmental debates and can articulate their own options
- Are sensitive to intercultural understandings of nature and the environment
- Can self-assess their learning style and take responsibility for their learning experience
The program’s assessment plan provides a way to ensure that the department is fulfilling its mission statement and producing students capable of performing the stated graduate outcomes. As a department, we are also interested in certifying that our work aligns with the mission of The University of Montana Western and with professional and academic expectations for environmental sciences nationally and internationally. To assess program goals, annual data are collected in the following areas: Student learning assessment, teaching assessment, post-graduation and professional work assessment.