College to add environmental studies minor

by Katelyn Palladino / Correspondent • February 14, 2013

Keffer environment
Professor Jon Honea is helping to creating the environmental studies minor.
Professor Jon Honea is helping to creating the environmental studies minor.

Emerson is in the process of creating an environmental science minor for the fall 2013 semester. William Wyatt Oswald, an associate professor and the interim chair of the department of communication science and disorders, spearheaded the idea, and has plans for the new minor.

 “Many of the courses are already offered somewhere in the Emerson curriculum, and others will be developed in coming years,” Oswald said in an email to the Beacon. 

Oswald said he has worked to create the new minor by putting together core requirements.

“The environmental studies minor will involve four courses,” Oswald said. 

He plans for the minor to include a 200-level environmental science course, 200-level humanities or social science course, a third 200-level course, and a 300 or 400-level course.

Currently, Emerson offers a general science minor, requiring classes such as Human Health and Diseases, Energy and Sustainability, and Ecology and Conservation. 

“Classes for the minor are divided between Human Biology and Health and Environmental Science,” said Jon Honea, Emerson’s scientist-in-residence. 

Honea added that the new minor will be more focused than the existing minor.

Oswald said he believes that this new minor will help expand the science department at Emerson. Although Emerson is highly focused in the arts and communications, he said the minor could work with other majors.

“The new minor is interesting and innovative because it brings together a group of related courses from various disciplines,” Oswald said. “So, for example, a student could take courses in environmental science, environmental economics, environmental literature, and environmental filmmaking, and they would all contribute to this minor.”

Honea agreed, stressing the relationship between communications and science.

“Communication is part of it. Students are learning pre-professional skills, and about professionals in the field,” said Honea. “They learn how to incorporate various audiences, and how to facilitate communication between the scientific world and the general public.”

Molly Drenzek, a senior communication disorders major, said she added a science minor to include her interest in biology to her study of language and the brain. She is disappointed that she will be unable to participate in the environmental studies discipline, but expressed her excitement for future students.

“I would have been interested, but I am graduating. I think many other students would be interested in this minor,” Drenzek said. “Students interested in writing, film, marketing, and political communication could easily seek a career in climate change or environmental publications. Right now students need a biology course to complete a science minor, so an environmental science minor may attract students interested in more total courses in related to the environment.”

Although the minor will not be officially added until the fall, Drenzek said the expansion of the science department will benefit Emerson students.

“Taking an environmental course changed my lifestyle,” she said. “Jon Honea honestly has so much knowledge to share with us, and I think it is wonderful that more courses will be offered in his field.”