Loyola University Chicago’s Wealth of Environmental Majors Make Other Schools Green With Envy

rest.ecol.waders-Loyola University Chicago
Restoration ecology at Loyola’s Retreat & Ecology Campus: Learning about nature in nature

In these challenging times, there’s a strong need for young people who can conduct scientific research on climate change, pollution control, and green manufacturing practices; develop conservation plans that will protect threatened and endangered plants and animals; help restore polluted areas; create sustainability programs; and educate others about these topics.

Chicago-area teens who are interested learning more about and protecting the environment are in luck. Nearly every college and university in the Chicago area offers environmental majors—often in environmental science and studies, but also in environmental policy, sustainable management, and other fields. In occasional blog posts, I’ll spotlight some of the environmental-related options offered by these schools. Today, I will focus on opportunities at my alma mater, Loyola University Chicago. Its Institute of Environmental Sustainability (IES) offers six environmental degrees:

  • Environmental Science (B.S.)
  • Environmental Science with a concentration in Conservation & Restoration (B.S.)
  • Environmental Science with a concentration in Food Systems & Sustainable Agriculture (B.S.)
  • Environmental Science with a concentration in Public Health (B.S.)
  • Environmental Studies (B.A.)
  • Environmental Policy (B.A.).

The IES also offers three minors (Environmental Science; Environmental Action & Leadership; Sustainable Business) and three combined five-year dual degree programs (B.A./Masters or B.S./Masters) that allow full-time students to complete both an undergraduate and graduate degree in just five years. These include a B.S. or B.A./Masters of Business Administration; B.S. or B.A./Masters of Public Policy; and B.S. or B.A./Masters of Public Health.

I recently discussed the IES and its majors with Dr. Christopher Peterson, a professor and the associate dean of academics of the IES, in my college-planning newsletter, College Spotlight. Here’s an excerpt from the interview:

Q. Can you tell me about the Institute of Environmental Sustainability?
The mission of Loyola University Chicago’s Institute of Environmental Sustainability is to engage students in understanding and responding to local and environmental issues. We place emphasis on engaged learning and development of problem-solving skills. Our students, faculty, and staff work synergistically to formulate and implement ways to reduce waste or increase energy efficiency.

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Students in the course “Solutions to Environmental Problems: Food Systems” help build growing beds during a field trip to The Talking Farm.

Q. What aspects of your program do new students find most interesting, rewarding, and/or fun?
IES students can conceive, plan, implement, and assess their own ideas with the support of IES staff and faculty. This is accomplished through class projects, internships, volunteer work, clubs, research with faculty, and events. We have created many channels and outlets for students to be able to apply their own knowledge and develop career experience in many sustainability topic areas. Students can submit proposals to Loyola’s The Green Initiative Fund and receive up to $5,000 to initiate a sustainability/ environmental project. These funds have been used to help a pair of IES majors start a mushroom cultivation business and the construction of a solar laptop/phone charging station, among others.

Students get to see their work come to life as permanent sustainability features (programs and projects) at Loyola University Chicago (LUC). They can dive into the multidisciplinary planning, testing, piloting, and implementation of projects that are student-driven from day one. The opportunity to touch so many different topic areas provides a holistic view of environmental sustainability. They also really appreciate the opportunity to take field courses at Loyola’s Retreat & Ecology Campus, where they can experience, firsthand, material they’re covering in lecture and lab.

IES students are directly involved in product development and business management. The Biodiesel Lab produces not only fuel (10,000 gallons/year), but also biosoap from the glycerin waste (in all LUC dispensers) and windshield-wiper fluid from waste methanol). The urban gardens generate produce for the farmer’s market (which is managed by students) and for sale to local grocers and donation to local food banks.

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Students in the course “Solutions to Environmental Problems: Water” measure turbidity during a field trip with Friends of the Chicago River.

Q. What personal qualities should students have to be successful in your program and in their post-college careers?
IES students should be willing and open to actively participate and try something new. They should be driven and motivated to think critically and creatively to affect positive change. Skills that our students develop and bring to the workplace include personal drive, willingness/ability to continue learning, multitasking, and efficient communication.

For more information, contact
Loyola University Chicago
Institute of Environmental Sustainability
1032 West Sheridan Road
Chicago, IL 60660-1537

To read the complete interview  and learn more about interesting college majors and information on admissions, scholarships, and much more, subscribe to College Spotlight. A sample issue of the newsletter is also available at the link.

Copyright (text) Andrew Morkes/Christopher Peterson

Photos courtesy of Loyola University Chicago


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