The Biology – Environmental Science concenctration at Tusculum College is designed to enhance students’ understanding of the biological, ecological, and chemical factors that govern the relationship between organisms and their environment. The impacts of human activities on public health and the natural environment are emphasized throughout the Environmental Science curriculum.
Graduates of this concentration seek employment with governmental agencies, private conservation organizations, municipal water and wastewater treatment plants, parks, nature preserves, private laboratories, and industry. Many graduates enter graduate degree programs in related fields such as environmental chemistry, chemical hygiene and safety, environmental law, biology, toxicology, environmental planning, and fisheries and wildlife science.
The Environmental Science program is able to offer a very “hands on” educational experience due to Tusculum’s unique Focused Block Calendar. Class size is also small, enabling professors and students to extend instruction beyond the classroom and laboratory.
Nearly every course in the curriculum offers field trips to nearby forests, streams, lakes, and caverns to collect biological and chemical data that can be analyzed to reinforce theoretical concepts covered in lectures and reading assignments. The Cherokee National Forest, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, numerous state parks and nature preserves are within a one hour drive of Tusculum’s campus. The Environmental Science concentration provides van transportation to these “natural laboratories”.
Additionally, field trips are taken that enable students to meet with a diverse array of environmental professionals working in the areas of environmental compliance, conservation, natural resource management, industrial wastewater treatment, stormwater monitoring, and air pollution control. These experiences permit students to gain an understanding of what it is like to be a “real world” environmental professional, and helps them to focus their own career goals.
For students interested in course experiences that involve travel even further afield, there are field biology trips to explore and study the diverse ecosystems of Florida and Costa Rica. During these two to three week excursions students have the opportunity to explore tropical rainforests, snorkel over coral reefs, trawl for marine life, canoe rivers and swamps, and climb volcanoes.
Past field excursions have included trips to the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico, the American Southwest, and coastal ecosystems of Virginia and South Carolina. These elective courses offer the same credit hours (4 semester hours) as required courses in the curriculum.
The following are comments from students regarding recent Field Biology trips:
“I have learned so much on this trip, and not just about Costa Rican biology, but also about a completely different culture and way of life. I am very glad I got to experience this.”
- Carrie Miller (Costa Rica Field Biology, 2004)
“It has been an exciting, amazing, and altogether wonderful trip. I have learned more than I could possibly have expected, and have enjoyed myself much more than I imagined I would. This has been one of the best ventures of my life.”
- Christopher Echols (Florida Field Biology, 2000)
Another valuable and rewarding option within the Environmental Science program, which strengthens the degree, is the Science Internship Program in which students may earn from 4 to 16 credit hours. This is a competitive program in which students work with an industry, private organization, state agency, or federal agency in the areas of conservation or environmental compliance. Internships are typically during the summer, but may extend to other times as scheduling permits.