Environment and Society

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Science isn’t the complete answer, because you have to address the social/cultural context in which environmental problems arise. Professor Ann Howard

It’s not the parts. It’s the interaction among the parts.

That central truth about the sustainability of ecosystems also includes the human element. That is why RIT’s Environmental Science program combines a foundation in the natural and physical sciences with liberal arts disciplines such as policy, ethics, sociology, law and public policy. An environmental advocate needs to work effectively with lawmakers, business people, neighborhood citizens and other decision makers. That means understanding how these people think, speak, and frame their priorities. RIT’s ES program brings a unique emphasis to this often overlooked but crucial aspect of environmental education.

students interacting with children

Community Involvement: RIT Environmental Science students not only learn theory, they apply it to solve real-world problems. The projects might involve wetlands research, species protection or even urban environmentalism. For several years, the ES program has partnered with Rochester’s NorthEast Neighborhood Alliance to gives students an opportunity to work on inner-city revitalization. One student, for example, developed Geographic Information System maps to identify potential development sites and to pinpoint areas at high risk for children’s lead poisoning. Another is interviewing community youth to develop curricula on urban ecology and agriculture.

Students working i na garden

Curriculum: RIT’s ES program trains well-rounded specialists, through coursework that builds a solid foundation in both science and liberal arts. The interdisciplinary course sequence emphasizes creative problem solving, critical thinking and forward-looking innovation—qualities essential to making a real-world difference.

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