Environmental Science Major Wins 2003 Educational Initiatives Award

April 30, 2003
by Kathryn Stelljes

Berkeley–The Environmental Sciences Major--the first and only cross-college major at Berkeley–was awarded the Chancellor’s Educational Initiatives Award at a ceremony last night at the Zellerbach Playhouse.

The major allows students in either the College of Natural Resources or the College of Letters & Sciences to take the same curriculum, with a choice of emphasis in biological, physical, or social science.

“No single department can provide a comprehensive view of environmental sciences, and at Berkeley, expertise in this area is distributed widely among departments and colleges,” said Lynn Huntsinger, CNR Associate Dean for Student Affairs and Instruction. “The broad, interdisciplinary academic preparation in this major allows students to work effectively toward solving real-life environmental problems that very rarely fall within the lines separating traditional academic disciplines.”

Students complete a senior research project and thesis as a capstone experience. In a series of senior courses, students first investigate an environmental problem or issue of their own choosing. Then, working closely with instructors, they design a thesis project and conduct their research.

“The major has rigorous science requirements, giving graduates the fundamental scientific skills they need to work effectively in the field. These skills are also highly valued by graduate schools and employers,” said Huntsinger.

The award was jointly accepted by the deans of the two colleges. It includes a certificate signed by the Chancellor and a cash grant of $20,000 which will be used to enhance the major.

“The Educational Initiatives Award selection committee reports that it was impressed by the commitment of the College of Natural Resources and the College of Letters and Science to cross-college, interdisciplinary learning, and by the sense of community among students that this commitment has fostered,” said CNR Dean Paul Ludden.
“Receipt of this award reflects what I already knew to be true: that the Environmental Sciences major is an outstanding degree program with a wonderful student body.”

To view a short video on the Environmental Science major, go to http:://teles.berkeley.edu:8080/ramgen/2002/special_events/eia/envsci.rm