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ENVS Major Gains Interest, Popularity

by Alyson Dame

The path to the future may lead back to the Earth. The environmental studies department includes more and more students as the environmental job market is growing and becoming increasingly lucrative.

"We have seen a substantial increase in student interest," professor of environmental studies David Orr said. In 1995 there were 54 environmental studies majors. That number has been growing ever since, and there are there are 91 environmental studies majors currently.

Sophomore Claire Jahns filled out her declaration of major form Thursday. "I'm planning on being an environmental studies major because I think environmental issues have been marginalized too much in the political scene and in society in general. The best way to get people to understand that environmental issues are more than just a hippie cause that their lives actually depend on it is to become informed so you can be effective in public debate," she said.

Orr said that the environment was "a terrific career area," estimating there were 15 to 20 different career areas within the discipline including green design, environmental medicine, environmental law and environmental planning. "It's an area you can get into right now, and you don't have to be poor," Orr said, referring to the number of well-paid jobs available. "They are looking for kids who can connect dots, ask big questions and solve problems."

Senior Hillary Stainthorpe was originally a biology major with pre-med plans. After returning from what she described as "a study abroad program about environmental problem solving," she came home and declared herself an Environmental Studies major. "I got really interested in the environment and how it brings biology, politics and economics together. The environmental studies program kind of prepares you for changing the world in that Oberlin slogan kind of way," she said, adding, "I love it."

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Copyright © 2000, The Oberlin Review.
Volume 129, Number 7, November 3, 2000

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