Interdisciplinary Approach and the Liberal Arts
As I sit back and reflect on my college experience I realise how the liberal arts as an approach to a college education heavily impacted and reinforced the interdisciplinary approach in ENVS. Moreover I have seen the benefit of being a jack of all trades at this stage in my life.The liberal arts is an approach to higher education that ensures students are instructed in the natural sciences, social sciences, arts, and humanities. By encouraging students to explore a variety of subjects they’re able to have a taste of everything and also gain basic knowledge on a variety of topics. The notion of the liberal arts is something I think also echoes the goals of an interdisciplinary approach. However they differ in that within an interdisciplinary approach, like the hourglass in the ENVS programme zooms in on a chosen area of study. In this way ENVS students are able to explore the environmental issues from the perspectives of various disciplines and have a more wholistic approach when creating solutions.
My personal journey and other introspections
Being a double major in both Environmental Studies and French my trajectory within the programme consisted of mainly taking the breadth courses. Since I was aware of this I tried to track the most important themes and theories in all my breadth courses so that when I finalised my capstone and began my research I had a list of sources that would inform my work as I moved forward. I also tried to ensure that I reached out to relevant professors and asked for resources that would be helpful for my study.
To directly answer the question: “How has my capstone benefitted from my general preparation as an ENVS major?” I think back on both the liberal arts and the ENVS major. Being compatible with my gen ed courses, the ENVS major helped me fulfill my requirements without taking any time away from fulfilling my other college requirements. The inspiration of my capstone project also came directly from my Environmental Sociology course where we explored inequalities and societal structures, institutions and systems and how they ultimately impact environmental issues. I took inspiration from Mark Dowie’s book Conservation Refugees and did a comparative study that explored the conservation strategies employed in Kruger National Park, South Africa and the Maasai Mara National Reserve in Kenya. Using other methods I gained from biology, economics. history and anthropology I was able to research these contexts in a comparable way and come to a conclusion that incorporated a variety of perspectives in true ENVS fashion.