As environmental issues and the demand for solutions grow, Jim Proctor, professor and director of Lewis & Clark’s environmental studies program, is working to create a national model for training the next generation of environmental policy makers.
With support from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, Proctor launched a multi-institutional, multi-year collaborative research initiative, designed to further scholarly rigor and coherence in the field of environmental studies.
“Environmental studies will advance as an interdisciplinary field to the extent that it provides resources and promotes opportunities for high-quality research and exchange among its undergraduate students, who are the future generation of environmental scholars and leaders,” said Proctor.
Proctor kicked off the interdisciplinary project in spring 2008, by inviting two dozen undergraduate environmental studies majors from across the country to visit Lewis & Clark. The spring workshop provided an opportunity for participants to learn about each other’s research topics and to finalize a common rubric for interdisciplinary, situated research to afford comparison.
“Situated research is a way a student can take a broad and seemingly intractable issue and locate it somewhere—situate it—to give it context and make sense of it in time and space,” said Proctor. “It offers a means to build, store, and share research resources; it offers a connection with real-world, practical problems, providing students the opportunity to contribute to solutions for these problems; and it provides a good basis for students to compare their work between locations, leading to collaborative opportunities, and refinement and generalization of the theories they are building.”
Each student will complete a capstone project to submit to their institution’s environmental program, and present their results at a final conference at Lewis & Clark in 2010.
In this video, Proctor and several student research associates talk about the interdisciplinary approach to their projects.