Why is ecological and environmental study so important? In 1938, noted conservationist Aldo Leopold wrote that while our advanced technologies serve to "crack the atom, they do not suffice for the oldest task in human history: to live on a piece of land without spoiling it." We are nearly a century on from Leopold's prophetic work, and yet recent studies show that most Americans continue to know little about our environment or the problems facing it. As stated by the National Science Foundation,"in the coming decades, the public will more frequently be called upon to understand complex environmental issues, assess risk, evaluate proposed environmental plans and understand how individual decisions affect the environment at local and global scales." This message exemplifies why ecological and environmental study is so important and also provides an urgent call to action for those of us in the environmental education community.
A project currently underway at Drury exemplifies this mission. Dillon Cayer, a senior from Springfield, is conducting research to examine how small quantities of pollutants are affecting the gender of largemouth bass populations in our local waterways, as has been indicated in recent studies done elsewhere. Because he must understand environmental chemistry, biochemistry, molecular genetics, etc., Dillon is working with three Drury faculty members with widely differing specialties. This project highlights the multidisciplinary nature of modern environmental questions and hints at how different modern environmental curricula must be organized to answer these complex questions.
To that end, the Environmental Program at Drury has undergone a complete redesign of the curricular offerings within its three majors: Environmental Science, Environmental Studies, and Environmental Health. Our mission is to produce graduates who possess a deep understanding of ecological and environmental principles and can think analytically to test, model and analyze modern notions of stewardship and sustainability. Our commitment to environmental literacy means that Drury students will enter careers in environmental consulting, research or work in city or county planning with the ability to tackle the complex problems needed to live on a piece of land without spoiling it.