March 28, 2008

Mellon Foundation Grant Will Support Environmental Studies

Funding advances College’s strategic objectives in the life sciences

A grant of $800,000 over three years from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation will support the development of an environmental studies program and major at Lafayette.

Lafayette’s strategic plan calls for a significant increase in the College’s commitment to the study of the natural environment, environmental issues, and environmental policies. When the vision is implemented, Lafayette will be among only four liberal arts colleges in the nation that offer both a bachelor of arts program in environmental studies and bachelor of science in environmental science.

This effort builds upon the College’s successful, multidisciplinary environmental science minor (involving biology, chemistry, geology and environmental geosciences, chemical engineering, and civil and environmental engineering), faculty strengths in all academic divisions, and the campus community’s interest in being more environmentally engaged.

“The grant will help assure Lafayette’s distinctive role in equipping the next generation of citizens and leaders with the humanistic and the technical skills to understand environmental challenges and make informed decisions that will shape a more viable world,” says President Daniel H. Weiss.

Dru Germanoski, Van Artsdalen Professor and head of geology and environmental geosciences, will head a “Community of Environmental Scholars” charged with implementing the project. The Mellon grant will support initiatives focused on fostering faculty leadership and teamwork, increasing teaching capacity through post-doctoral fellowships, encouraging greater cross-campus dialogue and collaborations, assuring diverse perspectives and participation, and developing new courses for the curriculum and major.

A College Seminar on Environmental Studies and Urban Ecology will discuss particular topics and readings, learn about new opportunities and perspectives, and guide the development of environmental studies. It will also introduce new faculty members to the environmental programs and provide faculty with a forum for presenting their curriculum and research interests.

Faculty members and collaborators will explore problems using applied techniques in three-week Summer Faculty Leadership Workshops modeled on Lafayette’s Technology Clinic, a two-semester course that brings together students and faculty members from all four academic divisions to concentrate on real-world projects.

The grant will fund summer stipends allowing faculty members in the humanities and social sciences to develop 10-15 new courses for the environmental studies major, along with innovative teaching strategies. It will also fund two post-doctoral fellowships that will add new dimensions to teaching and research in the arts, humanities, or social sciences in emerging areas of study or areas not currently covered.

The grant will make possible global research, fieldwork and exchanges and campus residencies for artists and scholars and will support Lafayette’s efforts in the areas of diversity and addressing concerns related to environmental justice.

“These multi-disciplinary, campus-wide efforts will assure a firm and sustainable basis for Lafayette’s environmental programs and connect them to opportunities beyond the campus,” Weiss says.

In January Weiss joined the signatories to the American College & University Presidents Climate Commitment. He is among 500 presidents who have pledged to eliminate their campuses’ greenhouse-gas emissions in a period of time determined by each institution. “Lafayette is fully committed to creating a sustainable campus environment,” Weiss says.

  • To learn about other sustainability projects Lafayette students, faculty, and staff are working on, visit the College’s What Can I Do? web site.
  • Environmental Science Minor
  • Lafayette College Strategic Plan
  • Lafayette Signs American College & University Presidents Climate Commitment

posted in Academic News, Collaborative, High-Impact Learning, Faculty and Staff, News and Features, Students

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  1. [...] of Art, says, “Students love real projects.” And through the support of the College’s Mellon Foundation grant, a team of nine students got to sink their teeth into a sculpture that required engineering, [...]


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