404 Altschul Hall
Barnard College is a liberal arts college for women, affiliated with Columbia University and integrally related to New York City. Barnard has a long tradition of educating undergraduate women in the field of environmental science, including natural resources and conservation. As long ago as 1949, the college had a program in Environmental Conservation and Management. In 1984 the college formed a Department of Environmental Science, following the phase out of the Geology and Geography departments. Peter Bower chaired the department until 1993, when Stephanie Pfirman, now at Arizona State, was hired as chair. Martin Stute joined the department in 1995, and Brian Mailloux in 2005 and they currently serve as Co-Chairs.
As of July 2019, we have grown to include Logan Brenner as Assistant Professor in Environmental Science who teaches the Workshop class and Elizabeth Cook as Assistant Professor in Sustainable Development who teaches Data Analysis--and both co-teach the Senior Seminar course. Terryanne Maenza-Gmelch and Sedelia Rodriguez are Senior Lecturers and Laboratory Directors for the multi-section laboratory course, "Introduction to Environmental Science" and teach their own courses in Forests and Environmental Change and Brownfields, respectively. Dana Neacşu, Lecturer at Columbia University Law School and reference librarian at it's law library, has co-teaching and now teaching Environmental Law with Peter Bower since 2003. In September 2019, Eleanor Ludkey joined the staff as Program Manager. Catherine Cook is our Departmental Assistant.
Environmental Science faculty and staff are active researchers who have received support from the National Science Foundation, the Department of Energy, Heineman Foundation, the Keck Foundation, and other institutions. Martin Stute's research interests are in environmental physics and hydrology, Brian Mailloux's are in groundwater microbiology, Peter Bower's are in local environmental issues, Terryanne Maenza-Gmelch's are in forestry and ecology, Sedelia Rodriguez's in igneous petrology. Logan Brenner's research has focused on corals in respect to paleoclimatology. Elizabeth Cook is an urban ecosystem scientist with interdisciplinary expertise in ecology, cultural geography and sustainability sciences. Catherine's interests are in academic and arts administration joining the department in 2000 after serving as Assistant to the Dean of Studies for over 10 years.
Science faculty at Barnard teach 4 courses per year. Class sizes in the Environmental Science Department are generally less than 25 and often less than 10 for upper level electives. Since 1995, the department has placed an emphasis on interactive, multi-media approaches to teaching. Professors are encouraged to integrate into their curricula discussions, team and small group projects, demonstrations, computer data analyses, web-based materials, and field trips.
Student advising is an important part of faculty life at Barnard. The number of seniors graduating with a majors in environmental science has increased from 11 to 31 in the past eight years. All Environmental Science majors are required to complete a senior thesis. The Senior Seminar is two semesters of in depth research, which typically includes field, laboratory, and/or data analysis components. For most students, the thesis builds on a ten-week summer research experience supported by the Barnard Summer Research Institute or other sources. All senior theses are overseen and reviewed by a member of the department, although many students have research mentors from the greater Columbia or New York community and occasionally more remote regions.
The Barnard Environmental Science Department is allied with and complementary to the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences (DEES) at Columbia University. This affiliation means that Barnard faculty serve on graduate student committees and examinations, and Columbia as well as Barnard institutional committees. Martin Stute is also a member of the DEES Faculty and has an office and lab at Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory (LDEO). Several faculty members conduct joint research projects with LDEO and CU faculty and scientists, and are involved in the Columbia Earth Institute. See Affilliates.
Barnard College’s Environmental Science Department provides highly motivated students with challenging and rewarding programs in Environmental Science, Environmental Biology, and Environment and Sustainability. High academic standards, interdisciplinary courses, and training in methodologies, such as field and laboratory work and data analysis, ready students with the tools needed to think critically, evaluate and solve problems, conduct original research, and communicate science to address the needs of society. Faculty members are nationally and internationally recognized scholars and educators, active in research and curriculum development. The faculty, staff and students of the Department are committed to ensure learning opportunities and initiatives that support our diverse community, engage under-represented students in Environmental Sciences, and foster an inclusive community where all students can become leaders in the sciences. Courses are innovative, featuring experiential and collaborative learning, lab and fieldwork, and cutting-edge technology. The urban setting, the proximity to the Hudson River, and the numerous affiliations we maintain with Columbia University through Lamont‐Doherty Earth Observatory, the Earth Institute, Climate School, and the School of Public Health, as well as Black Rock Forest, the American Museum of Natural History, and other institutions and community organizations, allow us to offer undergraduates unparalleled opportunities for student research and educational experiences. Upon successful completion of our program, our students are well prepared to continue their academic studies as graduate students or to pursue successful careers in a wide range of fields.
Student Learning Outcomes
We expect that students graduating with an environmental major will learn to:
Create pathways towards a sustainable and just future by identifying and addressing challenges and developing and implementing innovative solutions;
Understand the history, structure, function, interactions, and trends of coupled human-environment systems including hydrologic, atmospheric, oceanographic, biological, geological, economic, and social elements and their interactions;
Assemble a logical chain of reasoning ranging from observation to inference and action, not only to identify and characterize a problem, but also to find solutions:
design an independent scientific inquiry, from methods to interpretation;
locate, organize, analyze, integrate, synthesize, and evaluate complex information from multiple and disparate sources;
Apply appropriate analytical and quantitative approaches:
organize, visualize, and statistically analyze environmental data, and interpret relationships, trends and make predictions about future changes;
effectively create, process, and analyze 2 or 3 dimensional spatially distributed data;
Handle and solve uncertain, complex, real-world problems in the lab, field, community, and workplace;
Think critically, creatively, resourcefully, and strategically, including identifying steps needed to reach goals, manage projects, evaluate progress, and adapt approaches, developing both self-reliance, and civic‐mindedness;
Collaborate in inclusive teams, with peers and mentors, and work with others in diverse group settings, developing flexibility and leadership skills.
Utilize advances in environmental sciences and technology as well as in the social sciences to resolve sustainability issues, such as climate change and environmental injustices, and anticipate implications to achieve both equitable and sustainable outcomes;
Clearly communicate complex analyses, interpretations and significance through various media (oral presentation, poster, proposal, research article, report), to audiences ranging from scientific to policy, and the general public.
Environmental Science provides a scientific basis for management of earth systems. It focuses on the interaction between human activities, resources, and the environment. As human population grows and technology advances, pressures on earth's natural systems are becoming increasingly intense and complex. Environmental Science is an exciting field where science is used to best serve society. The department offers two majors, Environmental Science and Environment and Sustainability. A third major, Environmental Biology, is offered in conjunction with the Department of Biological Sciences.
The curriculum recognizes the need for well-trained scientists to cope with balancing human requirements and environmental conservation. Majors acquire an understanding of earth systems by taking courses in the natural sciences, as well as courses investigating environmental stress. Students learn to critically evaluate the diverse information necessary for sound environmental analysis. Our courses foster an interdisciplinary approach to environmental problem-solving.
Internships or some type of work or field experience are extremely valuable in preparing students for a career in Environmental Science. We strongly encourage students to consider an internship in the summer before the senior year because it may lay the foundation for the senior thesis. Studies have shown that students who have had related work experience are more attractive to employers and graduate schools.
Students interested in environmental science might want to consider a semester or summer program at the SEE-U, SEA Semester at Woods Hole, the School for Field Studies, the Organization for Tropical Studies, or some other field program. In addition, we recommend that those students planning to go abroad in the junior year elect to do so in the Fall Semester rather than the Spring Semester in order to take best advantage of senior seminar research planning and programming.
Students wishing to go on to graduate school or careers in earth science and the physical sciences should take at least two semesters each of calculus, physics, and chemistry. Those considering graduate school or careers in biological/chemical fields are recommended to take calculus as well as upper-level courses in biology and chemistry, and may wish to consider enrolling in an Environmental Biology major or minors in these fields. Students interested in pursuing further work in environmental policy, environmental justice, economics, environmental law, journalism, or teaching may consider enrolling in an Environment and Sustainability major or pursuing a double major, a special major, or a major/minor combination in relevant fields.