Students studying outside the library

Environmental Studies Program approved at Wofford

Glendal Shoals

PHOTO: Wofford Dean David Wood is among those who turned the dirt during the recent groundbreaking for the Glendale Shoals Environmental Studies Center.

View the video from the groundbreaking.

Interdisciplinary program to incorporate Glendale Shoals Studies Center

SPARTANBURG, S.C. – Wofford College has taken the same approach to studying the environment it has taken successfully many times over – an interdisciplinary approach that recognizes that the sciences, social sciences and humanities should come together for collaborative research and intentional dialogue.

The goal of the Environmental Studies (ES) Program, given approval this spring, is to build a diverse community of participant-scholars who appreciate the human and natural dimensions of landscape, who are familiar with the ways in which scientists, politicians, artists, business leaders, social scientists, scholars, poets and writers approach the environment, and who seek to become informed, lifelong stewards of the natural world.

Offering both a BA and a BS track, the ES Program has four major objectives, says John Lane, director of the program and of the Glendale Shoals Environmental Studies Center where some of it will be taught. “Those objectives are breadth; depth; communication, collaboration and conduct; and a learning environment,” he says.

Lane, associate professor of English who will advise the BA students in the program, says through “breadth” the ES students will get “a core foundation in environmental studies, including knowledge and skills from the sciences, social sciences and humanities. With that foundation, graduates will be able to address the complex, multidimensional and often ambiguous environmental issues they will face as productive, engaged and compassionate global citizens, no matter their career paths.”

Students will be encouraged to develop skills for “clear communication, cross-disciplinary collaboration and responsible teamwork,” Lane says, “preparing them for the complex modern workplace and for lifelong learning.”

The ES program will provide a creative and supportive learning environment that will help students pursue their goals in the “rigorous and challenging program.”

The program will combine existing and new courses, the diverse expertise of dozens of participating faculty members and state-of-the-art technologies and facilities.

It will operate both on Wofford’s campus and at the new Glendale Shoals Environmental Studies Center at Glendale, S.C. The newly acquired property where the center will be located borders 19 acres of protected green space along the Lawson’s Fork Creek. A small “wet lab,” technological support, equipment storage, a class/seminar room, and modest office space will be housed in the renovated historic building, a former textile mill office, that sits adjacent to the rocky shoals. The LEED certified (Leaders in Environmental and Energy Design) building will be the hub for the program’s place-based education, research and outreach activities, and the site’s surround acreage will compliment classroom learning as professors embed in their course fieldwork at this and other sites throughout the region. Completion of renovations and occupancy of the center is planned for January 2009.

Dr. Ellen Goldey, professor of biology, will advise the BS students in the program.

Terry Ferguson, director of the instructional technology laboratory and associate professor of geology, will continue in a staff support role for the Glendale Shoals Center and will work with Lane as he teaches part-time, conducts research and assists others in on-the-ground labs.