Environmental Studies Program
Director: Justin McAlister
Academic Administrative Assistant for Environmental Studies:
Environmental Studies Study Abroad Advisor: Aaron Seider
The Environmental Studies major is composed of a series of courses bridging three or more disciplines and providing a comprehensive understanding of environmental issues. Majors select 14 courses from 11 different departments or programs to create a broad, yet deep, curriculum tailored to their interests.
Students seeking to pursue graduate studies in environmental science should consider majoring in a traditional science discipline, such as biology, chemistry, or physics, and complete a minor in Environmental Studies. Students interested in pursuing graduate studies or a career in environmental affairs may be best served by combining a minor in Environmental Studies with a major in economics, English, political science, sociology, visual arts or other disciplines.
Environmental Studies involves faculty experts from various departments. Faculty conduct original research in numerous fields and cover a wide range of topics such as:
- the environmental devastation caused by extreme weather events and war
- the environmental history of central Massachusetts, including the impacts of industrialization
- environmental philosophy and ethics
- green architectural design and city planning
- water quality in the Blackstone River watershed
- global impacts of and responses to the climate crisis
- environmentally responsible breweries in New England
- the use of drawing, digital art, and stories to reimagine our place and role in the natural world
Research shows that Black and Latinx Americans are “most likely to be concerned about global warming.” This should not be surprising, since these communities are more likely to experience the environmental racism that has long configured our landscape. (1)
Environmental inequality leads to starkly different experiences in this country. For example, the best predictor of living near a superfund site, dump, or polluted area is race. Recently, we’ve also seen that vulnerability to the Covid-19 pandemic increases in lower-income communities of color. As a program and faculty, we are committed to joining climate activists of color in their demands for environmental justice by advancing racial equality at and beyond Holy Cross.
As two steps toward this aim, the Environmental Studies Program has created an Annual Lecture on Environmental Racism/Justice and the Jairam Miguel Rodrigues Rao Prize for work that addresses environmental racism and justice. Directions on how to submit work to be considered for the prize will be posted soon. Together we can take constructive steps to address the great pain and loss incurred by racist violence and environmental inequality.
(1) https://climatecommunication.yale.edu/publications/race-and-climate-change/ and https://www.newyorker.com/news/annals-of-a-warming-planet/racism-police-violence-and-the-climate-are-not-separate-issues.
Sustainability at Holy Cross
Sustainability is a priority at Holy Cross. In response to strategic student advocacy and the Presidential Task Force on the Environment, Holy Cross is in the process of hiring its first Sustainability Director. The College has also submitted a plan for carbon neutrality through Second Nature's Climate Leadership Commitment. Holy Cross commits to reduce its carbon emissions over the next few decades until carbon neutrality is achieved.
To learn about the College’s sustainability efforts and to read the Carbon Neutral Plan, visit the sustainability website.
Blackstone Visitor Center and Gateway Park
The visitor center, which opened in 2018, is an interpretive, recreational and cultural resource serving as a gateway to the city of Worcester and the communities located in the Blackstone River Valley National Heritage Corridor. Holy Cross donated funding and land to make the project a reality.
Blackstone Gateway Park is a scenic and serene half-mile linear park that connects the Visitor Center to the McKeon Road entrance to campus.