Department Mission, Values, and Vision


The Department of Environmental Studies educates visionary, pragmatic leaders in a collaborative interdisciplinary setting that is founded on academic excellence and the principles of environmental justice and sustainability.


The Department of Environmental Studies values innovative and experiential approaches to graduate education and the explicit integration of natural and social sciences and the humanities.

We value an integrated focus on conservation, education, resource management, and social justice, which promotes environmental scholarship and stewardship in our graduates.

We value inquiry-based learning, research, reflection, and service learning as essential tools for engaging the environmental challenges of local, regional, and international communities.

The well being of natural and human communities provides the academic and moral compass for our department and is reflected in our responsive curriculum.

One lens to appreciate what makes our department so special is through the preamble we wrote for our recent 5-year Department review:

We are an extraordinary group of interdisciplinary thinkers who bring a cooperative-spirit to running a complex department. Our faculty and staff meetings are always filled with hope and humor, and we are committed to facilitative leadership that is collaborative, clear, transparent, and accountable. 

We support each other’s leadership roles within and beyond our department, knowing that each of us will engage these roles during our careers here.

 We are committed to a consensus-based decision-making process, but/and have confidence that our leadership structure is nimble and flexible enough to take decisive action when necessary. We model and create cooperative-based rather than competitive-based learning experiences.

 Our students call us by our first names, just one of many ways in which we have created a learning community that is humble, non-pretentious, non-arrogant, accessible, friendly, and mindful of the power-differentials that can impede learning and communication in all walks of life.

 We write countless recommendations, review and give feedback on cover letters and resumes for our students, and continue to advocate for and advise them well after graduation. Our students consistently communicate a high-level of satisfaction with their experience in our ES programs.

 We turn ideas into action. We innovate. We take on University-wide leadership roles. It’s hard to not find us on any standing or ad-hoc AUNE committee. We understand feedback loops, and practice regularly both formal and informal feedback loops with our students, and ourselves. We know that authentic engagement with our students, specifically through Student Alliance, is essential to our collective work and success.

 In light of all the demands placed on our attention, our moral compass is steady, our creativity abounds, and entrepreneurial spirit is evidenced by the many department initiatives that have been and are being launched continuously.

We hope you’ll be excited about joining this vibrant and inspiring learning community. We look forward to working together!


We train effective local, national, and international environmental leaders working to create a sustainable society that embodies respect and care for the community of life, ecological integrity, social and economic justice, democracy, nonviolence, and peace. This vision inspires us to achieve excellence in our doctoral and master’s programs and collaborative community service.