Hands-On Learning in Environmental Sciences & Studies

From Asia to Latin America to Hawaii, the world is your classroom as an environmental studies or sciences major.

Students interested in traveling abroad to expand their environmental studies through the Office of International Programs can have $2,000 of the trip paid for through the Global Poet Scholarship. To learn more about studying abroad, contact the Office of International Programs.

Students and professors pose for a photograph in Myanmar during an environmental trip.Study Abroad in Myanmar

The sun had just dipped below the treetops in Monywa, Myanmar, a lush city on the banks of the River Chindwin. Standing above the rustling canopy, Christina Mecklenburg stood beneath an enormous Buddha statue and was surrounded by the beauty of nature.

She had come halfway around the world with her classmates and professors to study where and how native plants thrived around temples and other sacred sites. But doing fieldwork in this unique hotspot of biodiversity, Christina felt reconnected with nature in a way her suburban life doesn’t usually afford.

Their research, conducted during a two-week trip, helps pave the way for improved conservation in the developing country.

The experience also empowered Christina with newly honed, real-world research skills and an emboldened spirit to step outside of her comfort zone. Myanmar was her first time abroad, and now she can see herself studying nature in another country after graduation.

The trip also “really reminded me that we need to still spread the message of conserving plants and animal life around the world,” Christina said, “because if we dwindle them, they’re going to go.”

Students pose for a photograph in a pyramid formation in Costa Rica during an environmental trip.Study Abroad in Costa Rica

Deep in a tropical Costa Rican rain forest, La Selva Biological Station is tasked with protecting the vibrant home of more than 500,000 species of plants and animals. That’s a lot of life in less than six square miles.

This world-renowned research station is just one of the many sites students visit during their Spring Break trip to Costa Rica.

Poets enrolled in Globalization and the Environment have had the opportunity to travel to the Central American country with biology professor Cheryl Swift and sociology professor Rebecca Overmyer-Valesquez. They learn first-hand about rural economic development projects and their impacts on the environment. The class stays at EARTH University's Guacimo campus and participates in its Community Development Program, learning by laboring on projects with local farmers.

Ruben Salorza and two other students pose for a photograph in Hawaii during an environmental trip.Study Abroad in Hawaii

Climbing to the summit of Muana Kea to reach the observatories, Ruben Solorza and his fellow students witnessed one of the most beautiful sunsets he’d ever seen. “It was such a wonderful moment and I remember being thankful for being able to come on the trip. To end the night we all were able to gaze at the stars, and just relax in absolute quiet.”

Ruben had joined a study abroad trip with environmental science professor Cinzia Fissore, since it was an affordable way to see an island he’d always hoped to, and it was a way to enrich his environmental sciences studies. Traveling to geothermal and electrical power plants, he saw first-hand how business and the environment co-exist. At five-star hotels, he saw the intersection of tourism and sustainability.

“In the classroom, we have learned how the decisions humans make can have a detrimental effect on the environment. Therefore, this trip showed us ways that the normal way of life, such as in Hawaii, can still go on while developing sustainable habits and work ethics that do not harm, or can less the damage done to, the environment,” he said.

After Whittier, Ruben hopes to work with the U.S. Forest Service before earning a master’s degree in ecology and conservation.

More Opportunities

To learn more about internship and other professional opportunities, contact the Weingart Center for Career and Professional Development.