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Environmental Studies

    • Hoop House
    • Beekeeping
    • Kayaking
  • Program Highlights:

    • Unique courses such as beekeeping, kayaking, and maintaining the university hoop house gives students work experience before they graduate.
    • Approach environmental sustainability from an interdisciplinary perspective that examines scientific, social, political, ethical, and educational views of the environment and its protection. 
    • Blend of science, social sciences, and humanities courses to prepare to meet the rigors of a career analyzing complex environmental issues and effectively communicating your findings.
    • The program is distinctively set within the context of the Franciscan approach to environmentalism. One of the Franciscan Goals of Higher Education states, in part, “We care for the earth which is our home and work to protect and preserve it for future generations.”

    Meet the E.S. Faculty

  • The Hoop House

    Students in the Environmental Studies program can now apply their lessons in homesteading and sustainability in a newly built greenhouse—or its proper term, hoop house. The steel-framed, tented tunnel was built on the university grounds near Torvian Dining Hall—a fitting location, as the Torvian chefs will soon be cooking with the fresh produce grown inside the modern structure.

    Greenhouse photos

    “The hoop house allows us to work with our growing seasons instead of against them, thereby teaching students that we are using our natural resources wisely to eat foods that are grown locally and in season," said Dr. Lauri Chose, Director of the Environmental Studies program. "This is important to us because it really reflects the sustainable messages we are trying to spread at SFU.”

    Students in Professor Marie Olson’s Sustainability in Food Production course have started seedlings, and will soon plant them into the freshly spread soil. The class will manage and oversee all crop growth throughout the spring semester.

    “Students will be able to get their hands dirty and be the participants in this exciting and rewarding endeavor,” said Olson. “They will also have the opportunity to learn the how and why of a paradigm shift in food production that works with nature instead of against it.”

    Crops such as lettuce (mache, arugula, mesclun, romaine) spinach, kale, swiss chard, tatsoi, pak choi, radishes, carrots, beets, sugar snaps, and onions will be planted, along with select herbs and flowers. The ripe produce will then be sold to Torvian Dining Hall, providing fresh, locally grown food options for the university. The first harvest is expected in March, midway through the semester.

    Learn more about the Hoop House and follow its progress in photos


    Therapeutic Gardening

    Students in Environmental Studies also have an impact on the surrounding community. Utilizing the partnership with the skilled nursing center, Cambria Care, students supply and maintain a sensory garden for the residents.  This initiative allows local seniors to participate in gardening and enhance their freedom and quality of life.

    CCC Garden
    This project is supported by a Whole Person/Whole Community grant front he Community Foundations for the Alleghenies. This allowed the students to purchase raised gardening beds that are designed for easy exchange of plants throughout the growing season and to be tended from wheelchairs. Plants are nursed in the campus hoop house.