Environmental problems have never been more pressing. You can read it in the news and see it in the changing local weather. How should we understand these problems? How can they be communicated? How can we take action to make positive change? Students in this pathway will explore these questions and prepare for careers that address the environmental problems of our time.

The Environmental Communication & Action Pathway will help students explore several ways to effect change: through communication (including artistic communication), political and social activism, and technological or institutional innovation. The pathway includes coursework on environmental problems and on strategies for communication or change, experiential learning opportunities in environmental communication and action, and reflection. Although clearly related to the environmental studies major, it draws on tools from several other disciplines and emphasizes the application of knowledge and experience after graduation.

Students who pursue this pathway will develop a better understanding of possible careers addressing environmental problems and of the skill sets that can help them to pursue a career in this area. Career opportunities include (but are not limited to) work in fields of:

• environmental communication

• environmental education

• sustainability coordinators with businesses or universities

• work with conservation organizations

• work with governmental agencies

• renewable energy

• “green” technologies

Faculty & Staff

Denise M. Bostdorff

Denise Bostdorff

Professor of Communication Studies


Susan Clayton

Susan Clayton

Whitmore-Williams Professor of Psychology; Liaison to the Environmental Communication & Action Pathway


Mareike Herrmann

Mareike Herrmann

Professor and Department Chair of German and Russian Studies


Niklas Manz

Niklas Manz

Associate Professor of Physics, Department Chair of Physics


Matt Mariola

Matthew Mariola

Associate Professor and Program Chair of Environmental Studies


Nick Wiesenberg

Nick Wiesenberg

Geology Technician - Earth Sciences


Greg Wiles

Gregory Wiles

Schoolroy Chair of Natural Resources; Professor of Earth Sciences; Archaeology (on leave calendar year 2023)


Latest Environmental Studies News

Susan Clayton

Professor Clayton discusses climate change’s effects on mental health on NPR podcast

Susan Clayton, Whitmore-Williams Professor of Psychology at The College of Wooster, was recently featured on the podcast The Sound of Ideas, produced by Ideastream […]

Brian Webb

Wooster announces Brian Webb as new campus sustainability officer

Brian Webb, an innovative sustainability leader and long-time experiential educator, has been named The College of Wooster’s inaugural Director of Campus Sustainability, effective August […]

Susan Clayton

Susan Clayton to speak on virtual panel focusing on emotions related to climate change

Susan Clayton, the Whitmore-Williams Professor of Psychology, will be speaking on the virtual panel “Leveraging Emotions: Climate Change and the Power in Feeling” co-hosted […]

Lauren Vargo '13

Alumna on ice: Lauren Vargo ’13 studies connections between glacier melt and climate change

This story originally appeared in the Spring 2023 edition of Wooster Magazine. Lauren Vargo ’13 came to The College of Wooster because she wanted […]

More Environmental Studies Articles


Experiential Learning Opportunities (Complete one)

The following EL opportunities are examples of what may count toward the Environmental Communication & Action Pathway:

Note: Students electing to complete one or more of the opportunities below will still need to complete the EL Pathway Approval Form to have the experience counted

Run by the College

  • Study abroad – many locations allow for a focus on environmental issues
  • TREK programs – place-based learning focused on historical and cross-cultural framework
  • AMRE – project-based and service-learning (when the project relates to environmental issues)
  • Faculty projects:
    • Salamander Squad at Wooster Memorial Park (Dr. Lehtinen)
    • Reforestation and carbon sequestration project at Fern Valley (Dr. Lehtinen)
    • Tree Ring Lab (Dr. Wiles and Dr. Wiesenburg)
    • Work in Campus Learning Garden (Dr. Mariola and Dr. Moreno)
In the local community
  • City of Wooster
    • Local Roots
    • Wooster Bike Compost (contact Martin Lubell: martinlubell@mac.com)
    • Farmer’s Market
    • Parks (Mark Nussbaum, City Parks Supervisor)
  • Wooster Memorial Park (contact Dr. Lehtinen or Dr. Manz)
    • Education and Public Awareness
    • Plants
    • Trails
  • On Campus
    • Dining
    • Grounds
    • Physical Plant
  • Off Campus
  • Service-oriented activities
    • Volunteer work
    • Leadership roles in clubs and organizations, including groups on campus (Greenhouse, Environmental Justice Coalition, and Organic Farming Club)


  • Reflections guide students to articulate meaningful connections between the skills and knowledge they are gaining and the experiences in their coursework, experiential learning opportunities and career goals. Reflections take place along five points in the pathway:
  • First Reflection Touchpoint: At the Start of the Pathway
  • The first opportunity to reflect is when the student declares their Pathway.  Responses to prompts asked at this moment establish a baseline from which student moves forward.
  • Second Reflection Touchpoint: An Opportunity to Investigate
  • This is an opportunity for students to dig deeper to articulate what they are learning along the Pathway in classes and about experiential learning options related to the interests they shared in the first reflection.   It is also a point at which to prepare for experiential learning/career exploration.
  • Third Reflection Touchpoint: Before Experiential Learning Opportunity
  • >This reflection takes place as a student is learning about experiential learning opportunities related to their pathway.
  • Fourth Reflection Touchpoint: After Experiential Learning Opportunity
  • This reflection takes place after the student has completed an experiential learning opportunity and asks them to consider how the work they have done connects with their pathway.
  • Fifth Reflection Touchpoint: At the End of This Pathway – and the Start of New Ones
  • At this touchpoint, students engage with questions that help them build connections between theory and practice, their career goals, and how they plan to extend their Pathway beyond Wooster.


Coursework (Three Courses)

Students are required to complete three courses from the approved list below.

  • One course must be from the first category
  • One course must be from either the second or third categories
  • Each course must be from a different department
  • Courses can count for more than one category (you will see them listed in each category they count for)

Some important provisions:

  • Courses in the pathway can count toward graduate requirements (including those requirements within a major and/or minor)
  • Students are encouraged to complete coursework outside of an intended major or minor

Category 1

Courses that relate to information relevant to understanding environmental problems.

  • BIOL-3500: Population & Community Ecology*
  • BIOL-35600: Conservation Biology*
  • CHEM-10103: World of Air and Water
  • CHEM-21600: Environmental Chemistry*
  • ESCI-11000: Environmental Geology
  • ESCI-11500: Oceanography
  • ESCI-12000: Geology of National Parks
  • ESCI-27000: Paleoclimate*
  • ESCI-27500: Modern Climate Change*
  • ECON-24000: Environmental and Natural Resource Economics*
  • ECON-29907: Economic Topics in Environmental Justice
  • ENGL-21026: Lit, Cul & Environmental Crisis
  • ENVS-11000: Environment and Society
  • ENVS-12000: Ecology & the Environment
  • ENVS-16000: Science of Environmental Issues
  • ENVS-19906: Intro to Environmental Policy
  • ENVS-29903: Urban Environments in Comparative Context
  • ENVS-30001: Sustainability
  • RUSS-24001: Imagining Siberia
  • HIST-10100: Introduction to Environmental History
  • HIST-23800: The American West
  • PHIL-21600: Environmental Ethics
  • PHYS-19901: Environmental Physics
  • PSYC-22500: Environmental Psychology
  • URBN-10100: Contemporary Urban Issues

Category 2

Courses that relate to communicating environmental issues and concerns.

  • BIOL-35600: Conservation Biology*
  • CHEM-21600: Environmental Chemistry*
  • COMM-25100: Communication & Social Protest
  • COMM-25900: Communicating Public Policy*
  • COMM-26000: Environmental Communication*
  • ESCI-11000: Environmental Geology
  • ESCI-27000: Paleoclimate*
  • ENGL-16000: Nature and Environmental Writing
  • ENGL-24022: Green Romanticism
  • ENGL-30000: Writing a Warming World: Climate Change and Narrative*
  • ENVS-19906: Intro to Environmental Policy
  • ENVS-24000: Environmental Innovations
  • GRMN-22806: Germany’s Nature
  • SOCI-20300: Environmental Sociology*

Category 3

Courses that relate to strategies for solutions.

  • BIOL-35600: Conservation Biology*
  • ESCI-11000: Environmental Geology
  • ESCI-25000: Intro to GIS
  • ESCI-27500: Modern Climate Change*
  • ECON-24000: Environmental and Natural Resource Economics*
  • ECON-29907: Economic Topics in Environmental Justice
  • ENVS 15000: Introduction to Environmental Politics
  • ENVS-24000: Environmental Innovations
  • ENVS-29903: Urban Environments in Comparative Context
  • ENVS-30001: Sustainability
  • PHIL-21600: Environmental Ethics
  • PHYS-19901: Environmental Physics
  • SOCI-29905: Social Movements
  • PSYC-22500: Environmental Psychology*


*Course has pre-requisite or requires instructor permission to register