Did You Know . . . ?


. . . that sea nettles (jellyfish) in the Chesapeake region never leave the area; they hide on the bottom during the winter.  And what are they doing all that time?  According to biology professor Walter Hatch, “Sucking down plankton.”

Drawing by Sarah Claggett '08

St. Mary's Project Spotlight

Some Tasty Plants

Rosemary Hartman’s project looks at the nutritional value of eight invasive, edible wild plants. Rosemary tested the plants for lipids, sugars, starch, protein, and calories and then compared them to five cultivated analogs, concluding that the largest differences were usually in amount of sugar and starches. As a side note, Rosemary observed that eating invasive species would serve to control the population of these exotic species.


Program Overview

Degree Requirements | ENST Courses

Environmental Studies is broadly defined as the study of nature, including the relation of humans to the rest of the natural world. Presently, human activities are altering the life systems of our home planet. Species extinction, atmospheric pollution, and loss of ancient forests are common knowledge, as is the planetary impact of human populations and consumption habits. These problems have a biological basis that requires the application of the scientific method to understand them, to discern cause and effects, and to pose scientifically tenable solutions. However, concern for and stewardship of the planet is not solely the purview of the scientist. Our understanding of these issues is impossible without social, cultural, political, ethical, and economic considerations. The work of understanding these trends and forming alternate visions for the future draws upon ideas, information, and insight from disciplines across the curriculum as well as from co-curricular activities.

The goals of the minor are two-fold: 1) to achieve cross-disciplinary perspectives on environmental studies, and 2) to create a community of concern among students and faculty who participate in the study area, a community that encourages learning how to act as well as to understand. Even if no environmental problems existed, students and faculty would study how natural systems function, how the arts and social studies reveal connections between humanity and nature, and how the environment has nurtured philosophical and religious ideas about the place of humans in the universe.

Degree Requirements

Currently, environmental studies is offered as a minor. To complete a minor in environmental studies, a student must satisfy the following requirements designed to establish the breadth and depth of knowledge consistent with the goals of the environmental-studies study area.

  1. General College requirements
  2. All requirements in a major discipline of study
  3. At least 22 semester-hours in courses having an environmental focus, completed with a grade of C or higher must be achieved, as follows:
    • 2 credits of ENST 233: Environmental Perspectives.
    • BIOL 101: Contemporary Bioscience with an environmental focus: (see "Schedule of Classes" for correct section) or BIOL 271: Ecology and Evolution
    • Elective courses: 16 semester-hours in courses with environmental-studies focus, at least 8 of which must be at the 300-400 level, to be selected from at least three disciplines.

Because the required biology course provides an ecological basis for environmental studies, students should consider taking it early in their program. Students who elect to take BIOL 101 must be sure that their section fulfills the ENST requirement. The Schedule of Classes indicates which sections fulfill this requirement.

Partial List of Course Offerings with an ENST Focus:

  • ANTH 243: Biological Anthropology (4F)
  • ANTH 302: Food and Culture (4AF)
  • ANTH 341: Economic and Ecological Anthropology (4AF)
  • ART 105: Introduction to Visual Thinking (See online “Schedule of Classes” for environmental sections) (4E)
  • BIOL 316: Tropical Biology (4AS)
  • BIOL 327: Ecology and Diversity of Maryland Plants (4AF)
  • BIOL 432: Limnology (4AS)
  • BIOL 463: Ecology of Coastal Systems (4F)
  • CHEM 101: Contemporary Chemistry with Laboratory (See online “Schedule of Classes” for environmental sections) (4E)
  • CHEM 480: Topics in Chemistry: Environmental Organic Chemistry (2-4)
  • ECON 350: Environmental Economics (4E)
  • ECON 354: Natural Resource Economics (4S)
  • ENGL 201: Topics in Writing: Writing about Science (4S or F)
  • ENGL 365: Studies in American Literature: American Environmental Literature (4AS)
  • ENGL 395: Advanced Topics in Writing: Nature Writing Workshop (4AS)
  • GEOL 130: Introduction to Geology (4)
  • PHIL 321: Environmental Ethics (4AFS)
  • POSC 311: Public Policy (4S)
  • SOCI 355: Demography (4AS) 

Each year the coordinator of the study area and other participating faculty designate certain courses, including new courses, topic courses, and special offerings that will satisfy elective requirements. A complete list of approved current offerings will appear in the "Schedule of Classes."

Students with an interest in environmental studies are urged to consult with the study area coordinator or participating faculty members. Students are also encouraged to declare their participation in the environmental-studies cross-disciplinary study area as soon as possible and no later than the end of the first week of their senior year. It is also suggested that students seek a secondary adviser from the participating faculty.

Students wishing to pursue their St. Mary's Project in environmental studies may do so with the permission of their major department(s) and with the agreement of an environmental-studies faculty member who serves as the project mentor. Project credit does not count as part of the required environmental-studies curriculum.

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