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Environmental Studies

Hands-on experience is essential in tackling environmental challenges.

Humans live at the intersection of the natural and the built environments, and that’s why environmental studies is a necessary and fast-growing field. Your passion for the environment can turn into working on solutions for the environmental challenges of the 21st century.

As an Augustana environmental studies major, you’ll take biology, chemistry, geography, geology and environmental literature or policy, plus electives in computer science, math, physics, psychology and environmental ethics. The liberal arts is a rich environment for your multifaceted field, and your faculty mentors will help you focus your energies towards future goals.

Hands-on experience is essential in environmental studies and problem-solving, as is sharing what you find with others.

You’ll complete at least one internship and/or field experience with an agency or company involved directly with environmental management. As a capstone, you’ll design, develop and present a solution to a real-world sustainability challenge facing an urban or rural community in the region.

All of your Augustana experiences will give you the tools and skills to use professionally and/or in graduate school.

Augustana also offers related coordinated-degree programs in environmental management and forestry and landscape architecture.

What you'll learn

Disciplinary knowledge

Disciplinary knowledge

Gain a deep understanding of your subject and how it connects to other subjects.

Ethical citizenship

Ethical citizenship

Examine and embrace your strengths, passions and values. Develop ethical convictions and act on them.

Intellectual curiosity

Intellectual curiosity

Set yourself up for lifelong intellectual growth. Take responsibility for your own learning.

Communication competence

Communication competence

Read and listen carefully. Express ideas (writing or speaking) suited to the audience.

Creative thinking

Creative thinking

Combine ideas to create something new. Use imaginative ways of solving problems.


• Through Augustana’s own Upper Mississippi Center on campus, students and faculty collaborate on projects to address sustainability challenges for local communities. Recently, students have partnered with Scott County, Iowa, to identify neighborhoods at high risk for lead poisoning and find innovative strategies to help solve the problem; helped develop a Sustainable Urban Forest Management Plan for the city of Clinton, Iowa; designed a water quality monitoring plan for a soil conservation district and assessed the health of urban watersheds of Rock Island and Moline.

• The Quad Cities (pop. 450,000) along the Mississippi River is an excellent learning laboratory for environmental studies. Our large network of regional partnerships provides research and field trip opportunities, internships, employment and other connections. A few examples include offices for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services, U.S. Natural Resources Conservation Service, Illinois Department of Natural Resources and River Action, Inc.

• The college’s three field stations — Green Wing Environmental Laboratory, Collinson Ecological Preserve and Beling Ecological Preserve — together provide access to the rich learning environments of open fields, upland hardwood forest, native loess hill prairies, a limestone cliff, streams and wetlands, and a flood plain forest along the Rock River.

• The Mississippi River itself is a source for study and research; students and professors take to the river with the geography department’s research boat, The Scholarship.

• The recently expanded Hanson Hall of Science includes new flexible teaching and learning labs, studios and faculty offices dedicated to environmental studies.

Recent grads

Abdul Kamara '23 is a GIS analyst at WSP USA in Topeka, Kan.

Peyton Heisch '23 is a sustainability manager at Augustana College.

Amy Nicholson '22 is pursuing a master's in marine science at William & Mary in Williamsburg, Va.

Troy Faley ‘21 is an environmental protection specialist with the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency in Springfield, Ill.

Morgan Anderson '20 is a geographer with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Rock Island District.

Abbey Ward ‘20 is a conservation resource specialist with the Illinois Natural History Survey at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Hunter Ridley ’20 is an environmental protection specialist for the State of Colorado in Denver.

Jacob Poole ‘19 is a technical service representative at Triumvirate Environmental, Chicago.

Shannon Snyder '18 is a geospatial analyst II at S&P Global in Denver, Colo.

Barrie Chileen ’17 is a geographer with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Rock Island District.

Marissa Iverson
More Than I Imagined Marissa Iverson
“My professors in the geography and environmental studies departments gave me the confidence and support I needed to succeed here.”
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Abdul Kamara
More Than I Imagined Abdul Kamara
“My peak experience was discovering and falling in love with GIS [Geographic Information Science].”
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Sierra Kindley
More Than I Imagined Sierra Kindley
“Dr. Reisner and Dr. Geedey in environmental studies have pushed me to achieve my greatest potential.”
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PBK Visiting Scholar addresses urgent climate crisis

On Oct. 2-3, Phi Beta Kappa Visiting Scholar Dr. Corey D.B. Walker of Wake Forest University will present a public lecture, take part in class and seminar discussions, and meet informally with students and faculty.

Grace Molloy, Annie Gill and Dani Bornstein

Students research endangered species in the African bush

Three students researched the painted dog species this summer in Zimbabwe. Offered through Augustana's CORE office, the internship aligned perfectly with what the students want to pursue in the future — wildlife conservation and rehabilitation, and wildlife medicine.  

Environmental justice, AI and neuroethics are top of mind for Hasselmo Award co-winners

Juniors Lucas Fahnoe and Zachary Horve are co-recipients of the $5,500 Nils Hasselmo Award for Academic Pursuit. With majors representing the humanities, social sciences and STEM, both will use their award money to assist them on their way to careers addressing some of the world’s most pressing concerns.