“To stand at the edge of the sea, to sense the ebb and flow of the tides, to feel the breath of a mist moving over a great salt marsh, to watch the flight of shore birds that have swept up and down the surf lines of the continents for untold thousands of years, to see the running of the old eels and the young shad to the sea, is to have knowledge of things that are as nearly eternal as any earthly life can be.” --Rachel Carson
Our Mission Statement
The Department of Environmental Studies at California State University, Sacramento, helps students understand environmental problems in their political, ethical, social, and scientific context.
We believe the study of environmental issues requires an interdisciplinary approach. To this end, we emphasize the development of strong writing, research and quantitative skills, within the context of a broad liberal arts perspective.
The Environmental Studies Program at California State University, Sacramento, arose at a time when many people had begun to notice the signs of deterioration of the natural environment. In 1962 Rachel Carson released the book Silent Spring, which was the first of its kind to expose the hazards of the pesticide DDT and to question humanity's faith in technological progress. Her book influenced social change and is credited as the foundation for the contemporary environmental movement. Americans soon thereafter recognized problems with air pollution, water pollution, soil erosion, deforestation, and resource limitations.
Many scholars across the country found that their current academic programs were too specialized to conceptualize and study environmental problems because their very nature encompassed many academic fields. Faculty and students began to question how a curriculum could set out to teach something that would cover environmental problems.
A group of faculty members at California State University, Sacramento, took on the task of creating a curriculum to study environmental problems. Professors Marty Brittan in Bioscience, Ken Kerri in Engineering, Homer Ibser in Physics, and fifteen to twenty other faculty, created an interdisciplinary program designed to draw on existing courses in several other academic departments. The first director of the program was Dr. Wes Jackson, a young geneticist who had published the first text widely used in courses on environmental problems. In 1971-72 Dr. Jackson was joined by Professor Charles Washburn from the Mechanical Engineering Department, and Dr. Angus Wright, a Latin American Historian. Soon Dr. Valerie Anderson, a biologist and human ecologist, joined the program as a full time faculty member. Near the end of the 90's Dr. Mary Brentwood, a political scientist with experience in salmon restoration, joined the department. Dr. Dudley Burton was hired by CSUS as Chair of the Department in 2001. Dr. Burton is an engineer and urban an regional planner who came from a similar position at Baylor University. Dr. Michelle Stevens, a restoration ecologist, joined us in 2007. Every semester, we work with a number of adjunct faculty, experts in their fields, who offer their specific expertise to our students.
The Environmental Studies Department is located in Amador Hall. The department office is in room 554A, and faculty offices are on the fifth floor. Amador Hall is located on the west side of the campus near the University Library.