Environmental Management

, Volume 47, Issue 5, pp 716–726 | Cite as

College and University Environmental Programs as a Policy Problem (Part 2): Strategies for Improvement

  • Susan G. Clark
  • Murray B. Rutherford
  • Matthew R. Auer
  • David N. Cherney
  • Richard L. Wallace
  • David J. Mattson
  • Douglas A. Clark
  • Lee Foote
  • Naomi Krogman
  • Peter Wilshusen
  • Toddi Steelman


Environmental studies and environmental sciences programs in American and Canadian colleges and universities seek to ameliorate environmental problems through empirical enquiry and analytic judgment. In a companion article (Part 1) we describe the environmental program movement (EPM) and discuss factors that have hindered its performance. Here, we complete our analysis by proposing strategies for improvement. We recommend that environmental programs re-organize around three principles. First, adopt as an overriding goal the concept of human dignity—defined as freedom and social justice in healthy, sustainable environments. This clear higher-order goal captures the human and environmental aspirations of the EPM and would provide a more coherent direction for the efforts of diverse participants. Second, employ an explicit, genuinely interdisciplinary analytical framework that facilitates the use of multiple methods to investigate and address environmental and social problems in context. Third, develop educational programs and applied experiences that provide students with the technical knowledge, powers of observation, critical thinking skills and management acumen required for them to become effective professionals and leaders. Organizing around these three principles would build unity in the EPM while at the same time capitalizing on the strengths of the many disciplines and diverse local conditions involved.


Environmental studies Environmental sciences Environmental education Interdisciplinary education Human dignity Sustainability Problem-solving skills Leadership 



Denise Casey provided detailed critical review. Shirley Vincent and other colleagues also offered perspective. We appreciate discussions with all our colleagues and students too numerous to mention by name. We thank our host institutions. We also thank four anonymous reviewers who provided valuable suggestions.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Susan G. Clark
    • 1
  • Murray B. Rutherford
    • 2
  • Matthew R. Auer
    • 3
  • David N. Cherney
    • 4
  • Richard L. Wallace
    • 5
  • David J. Mattson
    • 6
  • Douglas A. Clark
    • 7
  • Lee Foote
    • 8
  • Naomi Krogman
    • 9
  • Peter Wilshusen
    • 10
  • Toddi Steelman
    • 11
  1. 1.School of Forestry and Environmental Studies & Institution for Social and Policy StudiesYale UniversityNew HavenUSA
  2. 2.School of Resource and Environmental ManagementSimon Fraser UniversityBurnabyCanada
  3. 3.School of Public and Environmental AffairsUniversity of IndianaBloomingtonUSA
  4. 4.Center for Science and Technology Policy ResearchUniversity of ColoradoBoulderUSA
  5. 5.Environmental Studies Program, Ursinus CollegeCollegevilleUSA
  6. 6.U.S. Geological SurveyFlagstaffUSA
  7. 7.School of Environment & Sustainability, University of SaskatchewanSaskatoonCanada
  8. 8.Department of Renewable ResourcesUniversity of AlbertaEdmontonCanada
  9. 9.Department of Rural EconomyUniversity of AlbertaEdmontonCanada
  10. 10.Environmental Studies ProgramBucknell UniversityLewisburgUSA
  11. 11.Department of Forestry and Environmental ResourcesNorth Carolina State UniversityRaleighUSA

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