Ecological Stewardship at Goshen College

Academic Initiatives

Environmental science major and minor

An undergraduate major in environmental science is housed in the biological sciences department. Core courses equip majors to analyze environmental issues from biological, economic and social/political points of view. In consultation with an academic adviser, students also select an area of concentration that reflects their interests and career goals: agroecology, conservation biology or resource management.

Goshen students have worked on projects in environmental education, city planning, municipal water quality assessment, organic agriculture, conservation biology, urban forestry, wilderness trail and facility maintenance, restoration ecology, wetland construction and planning, and field biology. The agroecology concentration includes four courses taken during a summer in residence at Merry Lea.

A minor in environmental science can be added to any undergraduate major. For details, see full descriptions of these programs at environmental science academic catalog pages.

Minors in sustainability and agroecology

The Sustainability and Environmental Education Department (SEED) offers two undergraduate immersion experiences in sustainability: a fall Sustainability Semester in Residence and an Agroecology Summer Intensive. These two immersion experiences provide the core of two minors in sustainability and agroecology. The courses offered by SEED take place at Merry Lea Environmental Learning Center of Goshen College, a 1,189-acre natural area 30 miles from the main campus. This preserve contains prairies, grasslands, upland forests, lowland forests, lakes, ponds and senescent bogs.

Global economics minor
An undergraduate minor in global economics offered by the business department can include courses in environmental economics and economic development. Economics students often engage in practical projects such as a 2008 investigation into sustainable business practices commissioned by a local automotive dealer.

M.A. in environmental education

The master of arts in environmental education program is based at Merry Lea Environmental Learning Center. This 12 month program immerses students in natural history, conducting ecological field research and engaging in environmental education programs for grades K-12. The degree includes core courses, a project, a portfolio, and an extensive practicum. Students integrate ecological learning with developing skills in pedagogy, land management and administration. For more information, see the Merry Lea graduate program web site.

Other academic resources:
Field biology courses offered at Goshen College:

*Component of an integrated summer program in agroecology.
**Taught each May term at Goshen College’s own Marine Biology Facility on Long Key, FL

Goshen College is affiliated with the Au Sable Institute, which offers additional field biology courses on four campuses: Great Lakes, Pacific Rim, South Florida and India.

Many Goshen College academic departments incorporate ecological stewardship concerns into their curriculum. A sampling of courses and programs:

  • BIOL 340 Field Experience in Environmental Biology – Taken by all elementary education majors. Participants develop and conduct interpretive programs in nature study for visiting school groups.
  • HIST 345 Environmental History – Explores conditions which have led to preservation or destruction of the environment, particularly in the non-Western world.
  • PJCS 320 Borderlands  – Examines U.S./Mexico border dynamics as they influence politics, economics, migration, the environment and more.
  • PHED 255 Camping and Recreation – Hands-on experience in a wilderness setting. Emphasizes low-impact camping and learning from nature.
  • English professors sometimes choose environmental themes for literature or writing courses.
  • A required public health course in the nursing department includes environmental health issues.
  • All Study-Service Term sites include field trips focused on ecological stewardship concerns.

GC Organic Chemistry students build and operate a biodiesel plant

At Goshen College the waste vegetable oil from the fryers in the cafeteria and snackshop is converted into biodiesel that is used by the college’s back-up electrical generator. The chemical conversion from waste vegetable oil to biodiesel is done in an extensive processor that was built by and is run by GC students. In a year about 150 gallons of the college’s waste vegetable oil are converted to biodiesel. Learn more at the biodiesel website.