Hands-On Learning About Sustainability
The research component of the Environmental Studies Program embodies an active learning model that bridges a sustainability curriculum in the classroom with sustainability action on campus and in the community.
The Environmental Studies Program seeks to provide students with an understanding of the issues facing our planet as we strive to develop paths toward a sustainable future, using perspectives in the social and natural sciences, arts, and the humanities. Conducting research is an important part of this goal. The research requirement allows students to get hands-on experience identifying sustainability issues, evaluating their impacts, problem solving for more sustainable solutions, and implementing strategies to improve sustainability outcomes in the long term. Students apply knowledge they have learned in the classroom during their time at Boston College to existing problems in their communities, developing real-world skills to address a broad range of sustainability issues. By interfacing with communities directly, students expand their knowledge and perspective on what it means to cultivate a rewarding life as citizens of the planet. This process also enables students to develop a deeper understanding of the complex political, scientific, and cultural intersections within environmental issues, and challenges them to think creatively about paths to sustainable solutions. The hands-on nature of the research requirement prepares our students for the types of challenges they will face as they begin environmentally-oriented graduate programs, and/or commence careers in business, education, law, policy, planning, government, or research.
Each year, Boston College seniors in the Environmental Studies program complete a research project on a subject of their choosing. Minors conduct their research in the Environmental Seminar, while majors participate in a year-long Senior Research Seminar or conduct an independent Senior Thesis.
We make these projects available to the public with the hopes that the information will be useful to other universities grappling with similar environmental issues, to members of the community who seek insights into the challenges and solutions of sustainability, and to current and future students to gain inspiration and insight from their peers.