The Environmental Science Program fosters interdisciplinary academic training for our students, provides guidance for careers in environmental science and management, promotes professionalization and networking opportunities, fosters hands-on learning in field and lab settings, provides resources for student involvement in active environmental research and includes field-based travel courses for immersion experiences. Students can earn credit toward the BS degree through internships, working in a research lab on campus and domestic or international field courses. Students also have the option to earn a concentration in Natural Resources and Ecosystem Conservation.


Surprisingly, we do not have many documents on the formation and early years of the UA Environmental Science Program. To learn more, I reached out to Dr. David Shankman who created the program and served as Environmental Science Director for 14 years. Dr. Shankman retired from UA almost 10 years ago, but was kind enough to provide some history of UA Environmental Science. The Environmental Science Program was first proposed in 1990. In his classroom instruction, Dr. Shankman noticed that some students had strong earth science backgrounds, but knew little of life science. Conversely, he noticed that some students had solid biological science training, but had almost no exposure to the earth sciences. He proposed an Environmental Science major in which students would receive a broad interdisciplinary background across the natural sciences. His proposal received support and the Environmental Science Program was officially launched in 1995. The ES Program met graduation viability standards in 2000. From 2000 to 2009, the number of majors fluctuated from about 40–55 students. The curriculum has remained largely unchanged since the beginning.

In now our 25th year of UA Environmental Science, we have well over 100 majors and our graduates now hold senior positions with a wide range of public and private sector agencies. We now have an optional concentration in Natural Resources and Ecosystem Conservation designed for students that wish to work specifically in natural resources management. For the first time in our history, we have an administrative assistant. Stephanie Holcomb joined us in the fall and she has been a huge asset to our program. If you have not already met Stephanie, please stop by and introduce yourself. Every morning she can be found in Farrah Hall 209D and every afternoon she is in the main Department of Geography office. Stephanie will be glad to meet you and help you with any questions. We also now have a physical space on campus. Farrah Hall room 209 has been transformed into the Environmental Science lounge. This is something we have requested for years and we are grateful to the Department of Geography for continuing to invest in the program. I encourage you all to take full advantage of the ES lounge. Please stop by to rest between classes, have lunch, hold a study session with friends, or to simply hang out and get to know other ES majors. You are welcome to use the fridge, microwave, and coffee maker. My hope is that this lounge will allow us to grow the Environmental Science community by serving as a gathering hub.

In this newsletter, we highlight some ES students and opportunities within the degree such as studying abroad, working in a research lab, participating in a student group, or continuing to graduate school through the Accelerated Master’s Program. We hope this will inspire you to seek extracurricular activities to supplement your classroom education and to take full advantage of the resources available here. Our degree offers many ways to get hands-on experiences and increase your professional network in a range of environmental fields. We hope to provide a solid and cross-disciplinary educational foundation so you may go on to have professionally fulfilling and impactful careers. In so doing, we hope to fulfill the vision of Dr. Shankman and others when our program was first established.

Roll Tide,

Professor and Director
Environmental Science Program

For more information on the Environmental Science Program email geo-envirosc@ua.edu .