Environmental studies a new focus at Oakton


Because many companies are looking to environmental experts for help, Oakton Community College says it is helping to meet that challenge by adding a concentration in environmental studies this fall.

The college contends that its move will help students transfer into a variety of majors, such as sustainability, environmental philosophy, law, and policy, as well as environmental arts and literature, environmental engineering and chemistry, conservation biology, natural resource management, and environmental journalism.

Biology professor Paul Gulezian, who is a co-coordinator of the concentration, sees many issues affecting the environment, such as food scarcity, pollution, and climate change.

“It’s important for students to understand and care about these topics,” he says, “and to be able to communicate about them effectively.”

The 19-semester-hour concentration provides students the opportunity to examine the connections between the environment and the community, both locally and globally, he adds.

Through a combination of coursework and connected-learning experiences, the program prepares students to address the many environmental challenges being faced today, including matters of public policy, economics, and ethics.

Professor of English Marian Staats, co-coordinator of the concentration, says having a humanities aspect to the program makes it unique.

“Narratives are an integral part of environmental study,” she avers. “Also, there’s a growing genre of literature out there called cli-fi (climate fiction) that deals with severe changes in weather set in the present or near future.”

The Oakton Educational Foundation provided two grants to spearhead the concentration. A $5,000 grant will be used for restoration equipment such as shears, goggles, and gloves, for outdoor work at the Des Plaines campus that will be part of course work. The foundation also bestowed a $2,000 grant for speakers, writers, activists, and scientists to visit campus and to talk to students in the program.

Additional information is available on the Oakton website.


Charles Bartling

Charles Bartling

A resident of Evanston since 1975, Chuck Bartling holds a master’s degree in journalism from Northwestern University and has extensive experience as a reporter and editor for daily newspapers, radio stations and business-oriented magazines.

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