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Mellon Foundation Recognizes Environmental Studies

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More than one out of every 10 students who apply to Lewis & Clark indicate an interest in majoring in environmental studies. And that interest often translates into action: this year, Lewis & Clark will graduate its largest-ever class of environmental studies majors.

In recognition of the program’s strength, the Andrew Mellon Foundation has awarded Environmental Studies its third grant in 11 years. The $600,000 grant will enable Lewis & Clark to create more international research opportunities, share its unique environmental studies model with a greater number of peer institutions, and hire a new faculty member to help meet the program’s growing demand.

Since the program’s inception in 1997, Lewis & Clark has been at the forefront of building and honing an interdisciplinary approach to environmental studies that focuses on situated research.

“Rather than using a one-size-fits-all approach to a diverse world, situated research offers students a connection with real-world, practical problems in their actual settings, providing students the opportunity to make a contribution to these problems,” says Jim Proctor, professor and director of environmental studies.

Currently, students can choose to conduct situated research during the fall or spring semester at 10 research sites spanning Ecuador, New Zealand, and India, as well as the Pacific Northwest. With the new grant, the Environmental Studies Program proposes an annual intensive summer overseas program in three new international locations, tentatively identified as Japan, Swaziland, and Germany.

“Our mission at Lewis & Clark is to train tomorrow’s thinkers and leaders to work effectively in an increasingly interconnected world,” says Proctor. “International situated research offers our students the opportunity to appreciate a variety of global contexts in which environmental problems and solutions unfold, and to more clearly articulate the international dimensions of our own domestic concerns.”

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