Sustainable Centre: Academics

Centre College is committed to providing students a holistic liberal arts education that includes acquiring and strengthening an appreciation for our environment.

There are currently 20 courses offered regularly among Centre’s academic disciplines in which sustainability and environmental concerns are the primary focus. Some of those disciplines include anthropology, behavioral neuroscience, biology, economics, English, government, history, natural science, and religion.

Environmental Studies major

Centre’s environmental studies major, approved as an option starting with the 2013-14 academic year, is designed to help students examine the causes and consequences of human dependence on the environment in order to fashion ways of living equitably and sustainably with other species.

This major incorporates ideas and information from a wide variety of fields: anthropology, biology, chemistry, economics, history, philosophy, and religion.

Courses in the environmental studies major include, among others: “Regulating the Environment,” “Getting Back to Nature,” “Environmental Ethics,” “Sustainability,” and “World Hunger and the Environment.” Click here to learn more about the major, explore details of each course, and meet the program’s faculty members.

Self-designed sustainability majors

Centre offers students the unique option of designing their own major, and often students choose to design one around the study of sustainability. For example:

Bethany Pratt ’10 created a major titled “Environmental Studies: Sustainable Resource Use,” which heavily included anthropology/sociology and biology courses but also integrated history and English courses. She also incorporated studio art courses as well as study abroad trips.

In 2009, Bethany was recognized for her environmental leadership when she became the College’s first-ever recipient of the prestigious Udall Scholarship. Click here for that story; click here to read more about her self-designed major experience.

An environmentally focused faculty

Many professors who make up the Centre faculty are devoted to incorporating responsible sustainability lessons into their classrooms. Here are just a few examples of how this is accomplished:

Dr. Cindy Isenhour joined Centre’s faculty in 2011 as an ACS post-doctoral fellow in environmental studies. Isenhour's areas of research and interest include environment-economy linkages, political ecology, sustainability, environmental governance and policy, environmental ethics, and economic anthropology.

She earned a B.A. in communications from Miami University, an M.A. in anthropology from Colorado State University, and a Ph.D. in anthropology from the University of Kentucky.

Dr. Mike Barton, professor of biology, created and teaches a CentreTerm course titled “Your Automobile, Our Environment,” which explores the social and environmental impact that our perceived need for personal transportation has had.

Economics professor Dr. David Anderson authored a recent book called Treading Lightly: The Joy of Conservation, Moderation, and Simple Living, which takes lessons he learned from his parents' WWII thriftiness and conservation skills and applies them to everyday modern living.

In addition, in his personal home, Dr. Anderson has incorporated a geothermal heating and cooling system, dual-flush toilets, a rain barrel that provides free water for his gardens and a compost bin that turns his trash into usable soil. In the fall of 2009, he had installed an eight-panel solar array on his roof that will generate about 2,356 kilowatts every year.

Click here to learn about the faculty members who teach courses in the environmental studies (ENS) program.