Goucher College MA in Environmental Studies

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Goucher's MA in Environmental Studies is an applied program that draws from the research methodologies and perspectives of such fields as philosophy of science, sociology, applied anthropology, cultural geography, economics, media studies, political science, ecology, and social entrepreneurship. We focus on the importance of social and cultural contexts in understanding and responding to environmental issues. Recognizing that environmental practitioners who may not be scientists must still be able to engage in productive and meaningful dialogue with colleagues in the sciences, Goucher's program will provide the science literacy and quantitative skills necessary to engage all constituencies in these fields.


Recent Submissions

Now showing 1 - 7 of 7
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    Volunteer Management for Environmental Organizations during COVID-19
    (2020-09) Smylie, Audrey; Eppig, Margaret; Eleuterio, Susan; Westlund, Mary; MA in Environmental Studies
    Society’s obsession with economic growth has caused the continued overconsumption of natural resources. The environmental movement has been focused on sustainable development, ensuring the needs of humans can be met without diminishing the needs of natural systems. Achieving this balance requires an in depth and comprehensive analysis of environmental problems on multiple levels. Environmental nonprofit organizations continue to play an important role in integrating environmental, economic, and social concerns within the framework of sustainable development. Although environmental nonprofit organizations have been proven to successfully address environmental issues, they still face many challenges. Funding is one of the greatest challenges environmental nonprofits face today. An IRS report from 2005 revealed 70% of environmental nonprofit organizations made less than $25,000 in revenue. A lack in revenue can prevent organizations from having the staff necessary to carry out the mission. Numerous environmental nonprofit organizations depend heavily or solely on volunteers as a source of funding and a resource to reach positive environmental outcomes. Throughout my research I came across very few studies dedicated to understanding environmental volunteering. An improved understanding of what motivates volunteers will allow organizations to better support volunteers in their roles in delivering environmental outcomes. We are currently living through a pandemic that has altered the way all businesses function. To prevent the spread of Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), local governments around the nation have enacted stay at home orders for residents. Stay at home directives encourage people to leave home as needed and only continue the operation of essential businesses to protect the health and wellbeing of citizens. To protect volunteers and employees, organizations have explored teleworking, staggered work shifts, and temporarily closing. My capstone project investigated the impact of COVID-19 on environmental volunteerism and how organizations can best mange volunteer communities during the pandemic.
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    Exploring Conservation, Compassion, Community and Creativity through Podcasting
    (2019-10) Ballentine, Allison; Walker, Thomas; Eppig, Margaret; Eleuterio, Susan; MA in Environmental Studies
    This reflective paper and the accompanying podcast-- Creating Conservation , and the associated Facebook page , Creating Conservation Podcast, will examine my experience producing two podcast episodes focusing on wildlife conservation and wildlife conservationists. My decision to create a podcast in fulfillment of my capstone project for the Master in Environmental Studies (MAES) was to use the opportunity to educate and engage listeners about environmental and mental health topics that can affect everyday people with an interest in conservation, regardless of their age, experience, or education level.
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    Evaluating the Presence and Socio-Economic Impact of Microplastics in the Tidal Marshes of Otter Point Creek
    (2019-10-07) Dawson, Nicholas; Kicklighter, Cynthia; Walker, Thomas; Philips, Spencer; MA in Environmental Studies
    Microfibers are a type of microplastic that are <5um in size. They originate from degraded plastic waste, as well as from synthetic textiles. They are a significant problem in marine and freshwater ecosystems. To investigate the extent of the problem in Otter Point Creek, I collected sediment and water samples to examine for the presence of microfibers during the month of June 2019. Microplastics were found in all samples that were collected at Otter Point Creek. In addition, I created a project on Ancedata in order to gauge the awareness of the local communities' knowledge regarding microplastic pollution at Otter Point Creek as well as determining the socio-economic impact use the trade-cost-method. Participants were able to survey their activities, the level of knowledge regarding plastic pollution in the estuary and answer questions relating to their current socio-economic situation. As this is the first comprehensive study to examine the presence of microplastics in the tidal marshes of Otter Point Creek, this study will further the understanding of the consequences of anthropogenic litter that unknowingly enters freshwater systems.
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    Eden Gardens Farm: A Series of Lessons on Aquaponics
    (2019) Pritchard, Ashley; Assadourian, Erik; MA in Environmental Studies
    Aquaponics is a sustainable method of food production that combines aquaculture and hydroponics to produce both plants and fish for consumption. Eden Gardens is a 120 -cre farm of the nonprofit organization of Glodev in its early stages of production that uses aquaponics as well as other forms of sustainable agriculture to produce food for its community in Jacksonville, Florida. The farm currently has two greenhouses, a garden, and an orchard. Future stages of the farm consist of the addition of seven greenhouses, a community garden, and a farmers market. In order to expand Eden Gardens’ reach to the community, an educational program would help to connect the work at Eden Gardens’ to the younger demographic of the Jacksonville community. Through the development of an educational curriculum that examines and assesses Eden Gardens mission and organizational development priorities, I will better understand what the staff are looking for out of an educational program. A curriculum that consists of environmental, outdoor education, with a focus on aquaponics agriculture will connect the young demographic of Jacksonville Florida with skills in science, sustainability, food production, and social values to better enable them to build a better world for future generations.
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    An Assessment of Nutrition Education in Public Schools and How It Has Impacted Childhood Wellness; Special Focus: Baltimore County Public Schools
    (2017-06-01) Erbe, Julia; Walker, Thomas; Levenstein, Karen; Daniels, Ann; MA in Environmental Studies
    Over the past few years, nutrition has become an absolute passion of mine and continues to play a dominant role in the way I live my life. As the youngest of three children growing up in a busy household, proper nutrition was not a part of our daily lives. We always had food on the table and in our lunchboxes, but they were not the healthiest. My parents bought groceries that were affordable and well liked among all three of us. Each of us played sports and were heavily involved in school activities, making weeknight dinners at the table a tough task. Food needed to be convenient and quick. I see this same theme in households today. Although I understand the thought process many parents go through in terms of food choice, I wanted to know more about the factors that affected their decisions. With my eagerness to educate myself on the matters in which nutrition exists in our society, as well as the ways in which it is perceived, I found a great need for discussion and improvement in public school nutrition education. As a former student within the Baltimore County Public School system, I had a strong desire to examine how nutrition education has evolved in comparison to how it subsists in schools present-day. In order to do this successfully, I first assessed the issues that school-aged children are faced with, including obesity and type II diabetes. Much of this is heavily science-based. With illustrations and recent data from surveys and studies, it became quite obvious how these health disparities have negatively affected children over time. Once I laid out this foundation, I then gave support as to why nutrition education is so important in school curricula. An overview of how nutrition education has evolved over the past 75 years, in addition to recent major legislation that revamped nutrition in schools nationwide, are major factors within this chapter. With this detailed information, I continued to research success stories from schools across the country that are paving the way for others to make similar improvements in overall food choice and healthy habits. These include notable schools/programs such as The Ross School in New York and The Edible Schoolyard in California. Once discovering all of the techniques employed to create such a positive, effective learning environment, I sought ways in which Baltimore County Public Schools were making similar efforts. In conversation with the Director of the Office of Food and Nutrition Services for Baltimore County Public Schools, Ms. Karen Levenstein, it became apparent that the desire to create positive change in nutrition education exists, yet issues with cooperation, funding, and accessibility produce obstacles for her team. Further improvements are on the horizon as the problems are being acknowledged and corrected. Likewise, the future of nutrition education looks optimistic as more and more information circulates about childhood health and its impact on their overall well-being. Of all the parties that can have a positive impact on today’s younger generation, I deemed the most essential to be that of the parents/guardians. The divide that exists between school and home must be tightened to ensure the nation’s children are learning how food choice and healthy habits can lead to a longer, happier future. In discussion of these issues, I always kept in mind the link to environmental studies and how this topic related. Over the two years I’ve spent studying material ranging from cultural influences, economic impacts, social norms, and more, there are major themes that have traveled through each subject. The most memorable theme is that of overconsumption. Not only does this apply in terms of overuse of fossil fuels and energy, but also in relation to food. Americans, especially, consume large amounts of food that also require large amounts of energy to produce. Due to this, we are operating under unsustainable conditions. Our planet simply cannot continue to support the way in which we live our lives. Another theme I found useful in this project is the role of authority. It is important to question who has the authority in any given situation and what makes them authoritative. We must know background information in order to fully assess one’s right or position to be the authority figure. Who gives them this power? Why should we listen to them? This goes hand in hand with the idea of skepticism and why it is important to question others. We need to have all of the information before making an informed decision; it is not enough to take someone’s word as truth before assessing all factors. I found this very helpful when researching the current trends in obesity and type II diabetes, as well as implementation of current school food standards. The Environmental Studies program is multi-disciplinary and encompasses a wide range of topics. As a student who appreciates holistic learning and understanding how concepts intertwine with one another, I was able to write about an issue that is not only important to me on a personal level, but is also significant on a much larger scale – much larger than myself.
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    Identity and Environmental Perspectives: A Qualitative Study
    (2017-07) Rakes, Thomas; Walker, Thomas; Skillman, Amy; Shepard, Michael; Cornell, Kayhla; Goucher College Graduate Studies; MA in Environmental Studies
    This paper is a qualitative study regarding Identity and its effect on peoples relationship with the environment and environmentalism. By using interviews and a qualitative analytical framework, the goal of the study is to illuminate the nuances of the research question through better understanding peoples expereince. With the end goal being better understanding why and how identity plays a role in this complex equation in order to improve the environmental movement and also peoples relationship to their environment in general.
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    Climate Change and Infectious Disease Patterns in the United States: Public Health Preparation and Ecological Restoration as a Matter of Justice
    (2016-06) Cornell, Kayhla; Walker, Dr. Thomas; Assadourian, Erik; Raffensperger, Carolyn J.D.; MA in Environmental Studies
    There exists an ancient and delicate balance between the Earth’s climate systems and human health. As the Earth’s climate systems experience disruption, so will the systems of human health. With disruptions of weather patterns come increased hazard events, causing more floods, droughts, and presence of vectors. These changes ultimately cause an increase in infectious disease and new disease patterns affecting the global population. In the United States, there are several geographic areas that are at an increased risk of hazard events. More importantly, there are also populations that are distinctly more at-risk of contracting infectious disease due to underlying vulnerabilities, as indicated by social determinants of health. This document discusses infectious disease outbreaks that we can predict are coming to the United States, where we can expect to see these predictions manifest, based on our current knowledge, and what the United States, on a local level, needs to do in order to best prepare for these imminent threats. Due to the fact that portions of the population are being unjustly burdened by climate vulnerabilities and infectious disease, the timely responses to these communities is truly a matter of environmental justice. In order to best prepare for the inevitable, this paper discusses necessary partnerships that need to be made between the public health and environmental/ecology fields to form a holistic, just approach to communities on a local level.