A Warm Welcome!

September 7, 2021

A Warm Welcome!

I write to welcome you to your fall term and to reflect on how far we’ve come over the past year!  We have reconvened for the academic year due to the COVID vaccine’s high effectiveness coupled with our community’s commitment to receive the vaccines, wear masks indoors, get tested, and participate in contact tracing when breakout infections occur.  I hope you share my cautious relief and sense of optimism that we are moving toward to a new state of normalcy.   

The EVST major has grown 20-25% annually over the past 5 years leading us to create a new Associate Director of Undergraduate Studies for our BS degree program students.  Kealoha Friedenburg has agreed to fill this role, while working closely with Michael Fotos our outstanding DUS for the past 3 years.  Kealoha is an outstanding aquatic field ecologist who teaches both in the College and Yale School of Environment.  

Yale College’s courses that pertain to human-environment relations have blossomed in the past 5 years.  The rate of environmental curricular innovation seems to mirror rising public concern about climate change, environmental injustices, and ecosystem destruction.  EVST recently conducted an inventory of Yale College classes offered during the past 3 years that cover environmental topics.  We found more than 500 courses being offered in the biophysical sciences, social sciences, and humanities.  Most courses originate in the College departments, but graduate and professional schools continue to grow their offerings, especially YSE.   We are vetting syllabi to understand their depth and breadth, as well as potential overlap that we are sure exists.  We have already done this for courses at YSE where we have worked over the past 5 years to cross-list courses that support our concentrations.  

The EVST faculty and staff are here to help you navigate this sea of course opportunities by requiring a concentration in one of 9 fields.  We hope you will select courses that build your expertise in areas such as climate and energy, environmental health, ecology and conservation, others described in on the EVST website.  Hopefully your concentration will guide you to a senior essay topic that you will pursue within your Senior Colloquium. 

The growth of EVST led us to create a more flexible Senior Colloquium.  This is now a 2-term research and essay development course for BS degree program students, and a 1-term course for BA students.  Four professors will guide our seniors’ essays this year, each mentoring 7-8 students.  Feel free to browse senior essay topics pursued by former students and past Donnelley Prize winners for the best essays of their graduation year.  

Our Peer Mentor Program is designed to complement and support advice from our 2 DUS’s.   Do meet and get to know this year’s exceptional group of junior and senior mentors who can help you navigate the curriculum, connect with the exceptional internship and research opportunities, and envision your career future. 

I look forward to an exciting fall with numerous gatherings, some virtual and some in-person, so we can rebuild EVST’s strong sense of community and purpose that thrived pre-pandemic.   

John Wargo, 

Professor of Environmental Health and Politics

Faculty Chair, Environmental Studies Major