The environmental problems our students will need to solve in the 21st century will not always be amenable to simple science and engineering fixes. Students need foundationally strong skills in environmental disciplines which combine quantitative, “hard” skills from STEM fields with the approaches and insights of social scientists, humanists, and artists to imagine, communicate, and implement solutions that help make a changing world more livable and equitable. Learning how to work with students from other disciplines to tackle complex environmental problems is crucial: no individual can have depth in all subjects.
Rice enjoys considerable momentum in environmental education. Recently faculty from the Schools of Architecture, Engineering, Humanities, Natural Sciences and Social Sciences (and in coordination with the Baker Institute and the Jones School) have worked together to develop and implement a new Environmental Studies minor degree program and a substantially reformed Environmental Sciences major degree program. That collaborative process led to the realization that there is a strong interest in environmental issues on campus among faculty, students and administrators. Rice faculty now offer 170 courses across 38 different departments and programs related to environmental issues.