This is an interdisciplinary program designed to help students integrate their primary major area of study with a secondary major or minor in environmental policy and decision making-a field of study that focuses on how individual and collective decisions interact with the environment. The term "environment" is considered critically with recognition of the often blurry and even indistinguishable boundary between natural and human-built or managed environments. Environmental issues for study thus range from those related to non-human species and habitats to those concerning social and human health problems associated with population density and industrialization. While environmental issues reflect certain empirical realities about the physical world and its limits, they also engage contests among competing human values and visions for the future. Environmental issues are strategically defined, managed, promoted and challenged by a complex and often conflicting array of social actors. In a word, environmental problems are political.
Students who major or minor in Environmental Policy and Decision Making 1) develop an understanding of the multiplicity of values, norms, interests, incentives, and scientific information that influence decisions on environmental issues, 2) learn to critically examine the social, political, and economic contexts for decisions on environmental issues, and 3) engage in interdisciplinary dialogue and apply systems thinking to address current and projected environmental problems. The program faculty believes that the study of environmental policy and decision making is best accomplished when carried on in conjunction with work in another major area of study. Students should consult with a second advisor familiar with the program. Advisors will help students to design a minor program that will complement their majors and help them to focus their studies in areas of interest to them.