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Environmental science focuses on the identification and solution of environmental problems and on moving our society toward environmentally sustainable patterns of living. An interdisciplinary core of courses will equip you with a strong foundation in the biological sciences and introduce you to scientific, political, ethical, and historical perspectives on the environment. The major provides a foundation for specifically focused graduate study as well as careers in many different sectors of our society.

Why should I study environmental science?

The B.S. in Environmental Science will help you gain a strong foundation for your career. The major is built on partnerships with both other disciplines at Bethel and with Au Sable Institute. Both will build on the core foundation of ecology and biology you will gain in Bethel's biology department, and both provide an opportunity to take a variety of courses both on and off campus—all while potentially completing the major in three years. This major reflects the complexity and interconnectedness of human interaction with the environment, which we cannot hope to understand without a multi-directional approach.

In our program, you’ll experience:

Learning in our outstanding facilities. This includes state-of-the-art laboratories and research spaces designed for environmental science courses. These well-equipped spaces provide quick outdoor access to our beautiful 247-acre campus for research and class study. Well-stocked herbarium, invertebrate, and bird collections allow you to get close experiences with amazing organisms. Vivariums, aquatic facilities, greenhouse, walk-in environmental chambers, and a soil research lab complement classroom and lab spaces designed with the environmental sciences in mind.

Real-world research opportunities. As an environmental sciences student, you'll have the chance to do research with your professors during the academic year and summer. Bethel environmental science students have worked with faculty on projects including osprey nesting, buckthorn remediation, and control, insect and bird responses to grassland restoration, microplastics, and many other opportunities. In addition, funded summer research opportunities are competitively available through the university and the C. Weldon Jones Memorial Research scholarships.  

A foundation in Christ-guided creation care. As Christ-followers, God invites us to steward and care for creation. Creation care is the foundation of the Bethel ENS program, and provides the framework for exploration into the wonderfully complex and interconnected world in which we live. Explore the complexity of the natural world through faith-integrated coursework. Cultivate a Christian ethic toward problem-solving while thinking through some of the most pressing, challenging human-environment interactions taking place right now. Participate in campus student-led groups like Creation Restoration, engage in the intersection of faith and science through seminars and dialogue with peers and faculty, or study off-campus with organizations founded on principles of Christian stewardship like the Creation Care Study Program and Au Sable Institute.

What can I do with this degree?

  • Conservation biology
  • Natural resource monitoring and protection
  • Ecological restoration
  • Renewable energy
  • Aquatic system quality
  • Resource recovery
  • Wildlife biology
  • Park/preserve management
  • Water treatment

Actual jobs held by Bethel’s Environmental Studies/Science graduates include:

  • Aquatic specialist with the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency
  • Zoology data specialist at the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR)
  • Fisheries specialist with the Minnesota DNR
  • Manager of environmental education at the Oregon Zoo
  • Hydrologic technician at the U.S. Geological Survey
  • Education outreach director at the Au Sable Institute of Environmental Studies
  • Naturalist at the Wood Lake Nature Center

What skills will I develop?

  • Asking and answering challenging questions
  • Observational skills
  • Critical thinking
  • Quantifying data
  • Presenting ideas both in writing and orally
  • How to test water quality
  • How to monitor bird and mammal populations
  • How to use Geographic Information System software
  • How to think holistically from an interdisciplinary approach
  • Writing and research in environmental studies fields
  • How to live sustainably in a complex world

What unique experiences or opportunities will I have?

You’ll have numerous chances to study off-campus. Study in places as diverse as Ecuador, New Zealand, and Michigan or Washington through Au Sable Institute. These opportunities are built into the major, maximizing the college credit you can receive toward your degree. 

You’ll gain practical job experience. Many internship opportunities are available within a short drive of campus, especially during the summer months. In addition to paid campus positions like animal caretaking or greenhouse maintenance, our students have been able to gain experience off campus through internships at rehabilitation centers, zoos, environmental testing laboratories, and state, federal, and private conservation agencies.

Practical internships with local and national private and governmental environmental organizations and businesses. Bethel students have interned at places like:

  • International Wolf Center
  • Minnesota Zoo
  • Science Museum of Minnesota
  • Minnesota History Center
  • U.S. Forest Service
  • Wildlife Rehabilitation Center
  • Cedar Creek Ecosystem Science Reserve
  • U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
  • Restoring Eden
  • Minnesota DNR
  • Boundary Waters Experience
  • McNeely Conservatory
  • Sierra Club

You’ll also be able to participate in the Creation Restoration club. The club carries out a variety of educational and campus stewardship activities, and the club includes students from all majors.