Text Size Default Text SizeDefault Text Size Large Text SizeLarge Text Size Largest Text SizeLargest Text Size Print Print this Page

2012 News Releases

Longwood BOV approves environmental sciences degree program

June 18, 2012

Students participating in field work

Longwood University's Board of Visitors has approved a new degree program for a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Sciences. A formal request for approval will be submitted soon to the State Council of Higher Education in Virginia (SCHEV), the Commonwealth's coordinating body for higher education.

Pending SCHEV approval, Longwood will begin recruiting students for the program, which is expected to enroll approximately 20 students each year. Classes could begin in fall 2013.

The proposed degree program is a response by Longwood, in Farmville, Va., to calls for new opportunities for students to pursue STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) careers. In its report "Preparing for the Top Jobs of the

21st Century," Gov. Bob McDonnell's Commission on Higher Education Reform, Innovation and Investment noted, "Virginia will need to prepare 100,000 additional workers with STEM degrees over the next decade."

"I am delighted to see this program finally become a reality as it is a perfect way for us to expand our STEM activities," said Dr. Charles Ross, dean of the Cook-Cole College of Arts and Sciences. "The major will prepare our students for exciting careers in a critical area, and I foresee many new interesting student and faculty research projects.  It really is a pretty unique program and a perfect fit for Longwood."

Student working in a lab

Longwood's proposed program is unique in that it will provide an integrated interdisciplinary approach that will include practical, hands-on experiences throughout the entire curriculum. It also will provide strong foundational knowledge in natural and social science, and will heavily emphasize the skills and integrated critical thinking that are necessary for making decisions about complex environmental issues.

"The integrative qualities of this environmental science program make it a natural fit for Longwood," said Dr. Mark Fink, chair of the Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences. "The program emphasizes skill building, problem solving and community leadership, all of which are components of Longwood's mission." Longwood's environmental sciences program is designed for students with a wide range of interests and career goals. Four concentrations within the major (life sciences, physical sciences, earth sciences or social sciences) will be offered. Students who are interested in STEM areas but are looking for a more integrated and interdisciplinary approach than traditional STEM fields offer will be attracted to this program.

Representatives of several key state environmental agencies, including the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, Department of Environmental Quality, Department of Conservation and Recreation, and Clean Virginia Waterways have written letters of support for the program.

"I am excited about the support we have received from the state agencies," said Fink. "This is a testament to the need for this program at this time."

Potential employers for graduates who earn degrees in environmental sciences include numerous state, federal and local agencies; corporations that deal with environmental management; private sector consulting firms specializing in environmental engineering; waste management and recycling companies; nonprofit organizations and many others.

Longwood, a public university of more than 4,800 students, was featured in The Princeton Review's book, "The Best Value Colleges: 2012 Edition." For more information, go to longwood.edu.