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Environmental Science Department Curriculum
University of Southern Maine
An undergraduate environmental science major at the University of Southern Maine (USM): The Department of Environmental Science (DES) emphasizes the interdisciplinary nature of environmental science; it also fosters the integration of environmental science with community planning and environmental policy. All DES majors complete a core curriculum composed of natural science, policy, impact assessment, and communication. Following the core, students focus on environmental science, planning and policy, or environmental safety and health. DES requires all its majors to complete an approved internship to bridge the gap between classroom theory, real-life application, and civic responsibility. The curriculum has linked courses with community service and civic responsibility components—curricular and co-curricular—built into the learning process as part of active, inquiry-based learning.
In 2001, the department made a conscious decision to revise the curriculum to strengthen the scientific comprehension and practical problem-solving skills of its majors. More specifically, DES sought to increase problem identification and characterization skills, communication competency (both oral and written), research and analytical skills, and critical thinking. An important secondary goal of the revised curriculum was to foster the interaction between faculty, students, and community members.
Civic Learning Goals
Service learning/civic education internships: Wells National Estuarine Research Reserve, Center for Wildlife, Highland Lake Association, Vermont Youth Conservation Core, Tin Mountain Conservation Center, Maine Audubon
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