Senior Capstone Experience
Every senior is required to complete a Senior Capstone Experience (SCE) in Environmental Studies. Students will enroll in the four credit SCE course during their final semester, although students must begin work on their SCE during the previous semester. The SCE can take the form of a laboratory or field research project or a monograph. Selection of the nature of the SCE will be based upon discussion with an Environmental Studies faculty member(s), and also will require the approval of the Director of the Environmental Studies Program. The SCE will be graded A (Honors), B C D or Fail. Grading will be based on joint evaluation of the SCE by all Environmental Studies faculty.
Experiential learning is at the heart of the environmental studies major. Although not required for the major, internships and research opportunities help students directly apply the insight, theory, and research methodology they learn in class. The College sponsors ten-week summer research projects in the fields of biology, chemistry, environmental studies, psychology, and physics. Internships and research projects outside of the natural sciences are also encouraged. Students of environmental studies have completed internships with the Chesapeake Bay Foundation in Annapolis, the Wildfowl Trust of North America in Queenstown, the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center near Annapolis, the Center for Environmental and Estuarine Studies in Cambridge, the Maryland Department of Natural Resources in Annapolis, The Mote Marine Laboratory, Sarasota, Florida and the Washington College Center for Environment and Society. Washington College has established cooperative relationships with the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum in St. Michaels, the Pickering Creek Environmental Center in Easton, and the Sassafras River Natural Resource Management Area near Kennedyville.
The Program in Environmental Studies regularly conducts summer courses abroad. Students are accompanied on these courses by Washington College faculty. Summer Study in Bermuda is based at the Bermuda Institute of Oceanographic Sciences in St. George. In field trips, lectures, and labs, students study the ecology and history of the island, exploring mangrove swamps, coral reefs and much more. Summer Study in Ecuador, jointly run with the Universidad de San Francisco in Quito, takes participants through a variety of ecosystems, from the Pacific coast and highlands to the rain forests of the Amazon, and to the Galapagos Islands. These trips allow students to relate their coursework to new parts of the world, to meet professionals and students from other countries, and to see a wide variety of ecosystems and related social systems.
Environmental Studies is a growing field. In response to the scientific investigation of the environment and the high level of social concern for the preservation of the environment, professional and academic specializations in the environmental arena have multiplied. All large companies employ environmental attorneys. Private foundations and governmental agencies employ Washington College graduates as environmental educators and land management planners. All of these positions require people with training that is both scientifically sound and steeped in the social, political, ethical, and humanistic dimensions of environmental issues.