At the start of spring semester, Kenyon’s faculty formally approved the elevation of environmental studies from a concentration to a major.

The cross-disciplinary major will expand the academic focus of the College’s ongoing efforts in sustainability. It builds on the popular environmental studies concentration, which has been offered since 1990 and now graduates about 15 concentrators per graduating class.

Professor of Biology Siobhan Fennessy, the Philip and Sheila Jordan Professor in Environmental Studies, said, “We have an abundance of resources that will enrich and diversify our curriculum in ways that are unique to Kenyon — experiences students really can’t get anywhere else. Creating a major is the natural step for the College’s successful and long-established concentration.”

Fennessy worked with Visiting Professor of Economics and Environmental Studies Robert Alexander and a faculty task force to design the major. Alexander said students are leading the charge: “We are signatories to the carbon neutrality pledge because of our students. They are really, really serious about this.”

Faculty members for the interdisciplinary major come from departments across the College, including the anthropology, biology, economics, philosophy, physics, political science, religious studies and sociology departments.

Dave Heithaus ’99, director of green initiatives at Kenyon, commented on the interdisciplinary appeal of the major: “Environmental studies students also are concerned with social justice, politics and community issues. They intend to help shift our culture toward environmental resilience.”

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