About Environmental Studies

Our Program & Courses

Environmental studies is a major and minor at F&M. You’ll study critical issues of our times: global warming and climate change, environmental justice, alternative energy sources, wilderness protection, ecotourism, and natural resource management. By blending knowledge of environmental policy and science with environmental economics, government, anthropology, social sciences, and other fields including business, literature, history, and the humanities, you’ll develop a deep foundation in environmental knowledge and perspectives, empowering you to become an effective leader, professional, and environmentally literate citizen of the world. 

If there is a particular area of environmental studies that most fascinates you, you can craft a specialization within the major. While this is not required, you can choose to specialize in environmental policy and law, environmental justice, biodiversity conservation, food and agriculture, climate change, environmental economics and business, or environment and society. 

By the time you graduate, you will: 

  • Have developed an understanding of and broad ability to explain the relationship between humans and the environment and how that association connects to policy, ethics, natural science, history, philosophy, literature, and arts
  • Have cultivated an ability to analyze and articulate various environmental challenges and opportunities, such as climate change, environmental governance, wilderness, biodiversity, land ethics, natural resource use and management, and environmental justice
  • Be able to evaluate real-world applications of socio-environmental analysis, including understanding policy responses and the historical and cultural dimensions of social and ecological systems

Wondering what environmental studies classes are like? Take a look at our course catalog to explore what classes you can expect.

Our Faculty & Staff

Tim Bechtel

Director of F&M Science Outreach & Senior Teaching Professor of Geosciences

Africana Studies

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Melissa W Betrone

Academic Department Coordinator for Earth & Environment and Business Organizations and Society; Program Coordinator of STS

Business, Organizations and Society; Science, Technology and Society

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Eve Bratman

Associate Professor of Environmental Studies

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Liam L Connolly

Post-bac Research Assistant

Earth and Environment

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Hannah R Connuck

Outreach & Communication Coordinator

Earth and Environment

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Elizabeth M De Santo

Associate Professor of Environmental Studies, Program Chair of Environmental Studies

Public Policy

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Alice E Fodor

Outreach & Communication Coordinator

Earth and Environment

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Eric Hirsch

Associate Professor of Environmental Studies

Latin American Studies

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Zeshan Ismat

Professor of Geosciences, Program Chair of International Studies

International Studies

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James S Jolles

Interim Assistant Director of the Writing Center, Adjunct Assistant Professor Earth & Environment

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Dorothy J Merritts

Harry W. & Mary B. Huffnagle Professor of Geosciences, Weis College House Don

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Karen R Mertzman

Laboratory Technician

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Eric A Schwarz

Research Associate of Earth & Environment

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James Strick

Professor, Program Chair of Science, Technology and Society

Public Health

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Robert C Walter

The Dr. Earl D. Stage & Mary E. Stage Professor of Geosciences, Department Chair of Earth & Environment

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Christopher J Williams

Professor of Environmental Science

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Emily L Wilson

Research Lab Manager & Technician

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Jeremy Zimmerman

Research Assistant

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Andrew P de Wet

Professor of Geosciences, Program Chair of Environmental Science

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Learning Outside the Classroom

In the Field

F&M’s location provides the perfect landscape for studying the environment. Lancaster County’s flourishing agricultural industry, the nearby Susquehanna River, and F&M’s Spalding Nature Conservancy provide exciting learning opportunities outside of the classroom. Environmental studies students also pursue internships with environmental nonprofits, government agencies, and local organizations. Many of our students intern with the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, which includes a competitive application process.

Research Opportunities

If there’s an environmental studies area or idea you’re eager to explore, you won’t have to wait until graduate school to launch your investigation. Every student at F&M has extraordinary opportunities to work closely with professors in faculty-led research or engage in an independent research project.
Explore research at F&M

Center for the Sustainable Environment

Many of our students get involved with F&M’s Center for the Sustainable Environment (CSE), our hub for global environmental stewardship and sustainability on campus. The CSE is home to a seminar room, a field-work laboratory space, a meeting space for sustainable clubs on campus, and more. Many students work in the CSE or participate in its extracurricular activities, food composting workshops, wild food tastings, and guest speaker presentations.

Explore the CSE

Off-Campus Study

Off-campus study, in the U.S. and internationally, is encouraged. Environmental studies students have studied abroad in Eastern Europe, Africa, Latin America, and Asia, and have even spent a semester at sea. 

Explore off-campus study at F&M

Entrepreneurship at F&M

In the spirit of living up to Benjamin Franklin’s legacy of creating solutions in the service of the public good, Entrepreneurship at F&M is a program that offers exciting opportunities for all students to explore and develop entrepreneurial skills. Environmental studies students have used their education to develop entrepreneurial opportunities in groundwater exploration; environmental consulting, carbon capture and sequestration; and natural resource management.

Explore entrepreneurship at F&M

Dual Degree Programs

Earn Master of Forestry (M.F.) or Master of Environmental Management (M.E.M.)

In partnership with Duke University, F&M enables you to earn a bachelor’s degree from F&M and a master’s degree from Duke in five or six years. 

M.E.M. and M.F. Professional Master’s Degrees

The Duke Professional Master’s program is a two-year, course-based, non-thesis professional degree program similar to law or business school in its applied focus. In fact, the degree will actually be an M.E.M. (Master of Environmental Management) or M.F. (Master of Forestry), depending on the path chosen. This is not the same as applying to graduate school in the college of arts and sciences where you might earn a broader, less applied M.S. (Master of Science) degree in a discipline like Zoology or Biochemistry.

M.E.M. Specializations

The M.E.M. degree is structured around environment and management concentrations. Students select one from each of the following groups of possibilities, to gain depth of knowledge in a topical area (environment) and to build the skills (management) to put this knowledge into practice:

Environment concentrations:

  • Coastal and Marine Systems
  • Ecotoxicology and Environmental Health
  • Energy and Environment
  • Terrestrial and Freshwater Environments

Management concentrations:

  • Business and the Environment
  • Environmental Analytics and Modeling
  • Environmental Economics and Policy
  • Community Engagement and Environmental Justice

You may spend either three or four years at F&M, during which time you’ll complete all requirements for your chosen major, and all F&M general education requirements. You will then transfer to Duke for two years.

Please consult this document for more details about this program and instructions for participation.

Contact Professor Elizabeth De Santo at edesanto@fandm.edu with any questions related to this program.

Success Beyond F&M

What do environmental studies majors typically do after college? Many of our graduates go on to enjoy successful careers in a wide range of professions and enroll in prestigious graduate programs. You’ll also find alumni support in the Geoscience Founders Society , an organization committed to maintaining connections between current F&M students and faculty with alumni and friends.

Graduate School

A liberal arts background in environmental studies prepares our graduates to go on to excellent graduate programs after F&M. Many pursue advanced degrees in government, law, sustainability, environmental and energy management, and environmental science. 


Environmental studies graduates often pursue teaching and public service fellowships with organizations such as Teach for America and Americorps. They also go on to complete fellowships overseas with the Fulbright U.S. Student Program, for which F&M is recognized as a top-producing institution

Learn more about fellowships

Career Paths

Environmental studies graduates are prepared to embark on a wide range of career paths, including positions in government, business, nonprofits, and research. They hold positions such as:

  • Environmental, Health, and Safety Specialist
  • Environmental Lawyer
  • Head of Sustainability
  • Vice President, Environment, Social, and Governance (ESG)
  • Forestry Coordinator
  • Urban Planner
  • Public Health Specialist
  • Project Manager
  • Associate Director
  • Senior Research Associate
  • Policy Analyst
  • Prospective Gifts Manager
  • Senior Consultant
  • Director of Communications and Community Engagement
  • Manager, Government Relations

Alumni Spotlight

Exploring Sustainable Food Systems in Italy

Jonathan Izzo ’24, an environmental studies major and Italian minor, combined his twin passions for his family’s Italian heritage and for sustainable food systems by spending a semester studying in Perugia, Italy. “I was volunteering at a local urban garden, but for the most part, it was an educational program looking around Italy at sustainable food systems that exist there,” Izzo said. Izzo compiled his research into a 20-page thesis written in Italian. “My thesis is about the slow-food movement, looking into sustainable, traditional practices like preserving traditional culture of food practices,” he said.

Read More »

Research Spotlight

F&M Compost Co-Op Diverts Costs and CO2 in Lancaster

A Franklin & Marshall College compost initiative has evolved into a co-op saving the City of Lancaster $5,215 per year – all while diverting 16,638 pounds of food waste from the solid-waste stream each month. Three students spent their summer evaluating and co-authoring a white paper documenting the co-op's first year in terms of cost savings and social impact.

Read More »

Earth and Environment Laboratory Facilities

F&M's Department of Earth & Environment offers laboratory facilities open to F&M faculty, staff, and students, as well as colleagues from other institutions for their teaching and research. We have ongoing relationships with F&M's Departments of Chemistry, Physics and Biology, Millersville University, colleges in the Keck Geology Consortium, NASA, the U.S. Geological Survey, and Armstrong World Industries.

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Related Fields of Study

Earth and Environmental Science

Explore critical environmental issues of today through a scientific lens. By studying earth and environmental science at F&M, you will build the necessary biological, chemical, and geological foundation you need to study the earth and understand the dynamics between humans and our environment.


Become an expert in a vital field that consistently ranks among the best undergraduate programs in the country. By studying geosciences at F&M, you’ll examine and understand the dynamic processes that shape our planet, the minerals and rocks that comprise it, and the features and processes of the Earth’s surfaces and interior.

Sustainability Planning Certificate

Sustainability planning is an increasing need in the marketplace. F&M’s sustainability planning certificate provides the glue that bonds biology; earth and environment; and business, organizations and society to prepare students interested in careers in sustainable practices.

Environmental Studies in Action

May 23, 2024

Ten Faculty Earn Tenure, Promotion

At its May meeting, the Board of Trustees unanimously endorsed the recommendations of the Professional Standards Committee and the Provost, granting four F&M faculty tenure and promotion to associate professor, while six others were promoted to full professor.

May 7, 2024

Student Explores Food in Italian Slow-Food Culture

Franklin & Marshall College senior Jonathan Izzo combined his twin passions for his family’s Italian heritage and for sustainable food systems to cap his academic career.

March 7, 2024

Mary Adams ’24 Embraces All F&M Has to Offer

Choosing F&M was about exploring the unknown for senior Mary Adams. Thanks to a generous financial aid package, she has completed academic studies, field research and internships both on campus and abroad.