PSU Environmental Studies Dept. helps our planet thrive

Planet Earth is something we all have in common. No matter where we live, the ground we walk on or the air we breathe, we’re all connected through our environment. The study of our environment and how humans interact with it influences change, and Portland State’s Environmental Science and Management Department helps lead that change.

Portland is one of the United States’ leading cities in sustainable practices and environmentally friendly policies; Portland makes the environment a priority. The ESM graduate program at PSU connects students with organizations and agencies in order to identify and solve environmental problems around Portland. Students have a wealth of resources and opportunities to make a lasting impact in the community.

“Environmental science is all very interdisciplinary,” said Arjun Viray, an undergraduate in the environmental studies program. “You get the ecologists, the biologists, the conservationists, all working towards a common goal: to improve the environment and human well-being. If you take care of the environment, you improve how we live. You improve quality of life.”

Viray is currently working on a project researching healthcare design and green roofs on campus, focusing on how the environment impacts the well-being of people. Other projects within the scope of the program investigate air quality in urban settings and how nano-structured materials relate to human health and the environment. These opportunities are available through the PSU program Build Exito, which aims to engage underrepresented students in programs relating to biomedical research, population health and social science research, among other fields.

Today, the people of our planet are victim to water shortages, extreme droughts, natural disasters exacerbated by climate change and changing ecological systems in urban metropolises.

It’s important for us to understand the intricacies of the interactions between society and the physical, chemical, ecological and biological processes that structure and maintain ecosystems. That is why environmental science and studies will continue to grow.

The ESM department partners with the Association of Environmental Science Students to host weekly seminars that provide space to share current research and new ideas with peers, as well as provide and receive feedback on current projects.

Alumni of the ESM program have interned and found jobs with the City of Portland, Nike, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Agency, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and other institutions whose missions are to create lasting and positive changes in sustainability and the environment.

At PSU, almost every school and department teaches courses related to sustainability that examine our relationship with the environment from a variety of perspectives. Within the university studies program, courses in sustainability and global environmental change are options at the freshman and sophomore level inquiries, as well as the option to pursue environmental and sustainability related junior clusters. For seniors, there are over 25 environmentally related senior capstones.

PSU offers two pathways within undergraduate studies inside the department of environmental science and management: environmental science and environmental studies. Graduate students have the option of pursuing a Master of Science, Master of Environmental Management or a Professional Science Master in Environmental Science and Management, as well as a number of other certificates.

Environmental science teaches us the bigger picture and, in turn, gives us the tools we need to create positive change.