About

The Sewanee Integrated Program in the Environment (SIPE) offers students an unusually rich array of curricular options with six majors, six minors, and a certificate.   This expansive curriculum—including natural and social sciences as well as the humanities and fine arts—offers students multiple pathways for appreciating the ecological complexity and wonder of the earth we inhabit.  The Program’s spread of curricular options across several majors enables students to develop not only depth of exposure to key fields and methodologies of study, but also cross-disciplinary breadth of understanding.  This broad-gauged outlook is crucial for graduates looking to address the inherently interdisciplinary challenges of environmental study in today’s world.  Students enrolled in our majors also share the chance for common exposure to the Program’s team-taught offering, “Introduction to Environmental Studies”, as well as involvement in various other collaborative opportunities and occasions for interaction across academic disciplines.

A major asset of SIPE is the unparalleled opportunity for field study available throughout the University’s 13,000-acre land-base, commonly known as “the Domain.”  This extensive tract includes extensive woodlands, lakes, trails, caves, and bluffs that surround the central campus and encompass the residential village of Sewanee.  The Domain’s amalgamation of wildlife preserve, working forest, farmland, and settlements thus offers students and faculty members rare benefit as a “living laboratory” for inquiry.

Majors:

  • Environmental Arts and Humanities  - This major examines environmental issues by integrating the diverse perspectives offered by anthropology, history, literature, philosophy, religion, and visual studies. While encouraging students to pursue their own specific interests in environmental arts and humanities, the major includes three interrelated components of common study.  First, it offers an interdisciplinary grounding in environmental science and policy. Second, it examines how the areas of environmental arts and humanities inform and are informed by the perspectives of environmental science and policy. Finally, as the defining core of the major, students explore how the arts and humanities enrich our understanding of humanity's complex, evolving relation to the world we inhabit and inform our responses to the many dimensions of environmental issues. 
  • Environment and Sustainability - This major explores issues related to environmental science, policy, and economics in a major with a self-designed focus that is developed during the junior year which leads to a senior capstone research project with a sustainability theme. Students may choose to take classes in a variety of fields, including archaeology, politics, environmental law, and GIS (geographic information systems). With the help of advisors and other faculty members, students select three elective courses, each from different departments, on which to center their self-designed focus. This focus not only culminates in a senior capstone project but also facilitates both a unique interdisciplinary learning experience and the development of future research potential.
  • Ecology and Biodiversity - This course of study examines the diversity of life on Earth and the interactions that determine the distribution and abundance of species in ecosystems. This field-oriented major also addresses human impacts on ecological systems and the application of science to help conserve species. Ecology and Biodiversity is a track within the Biology major. 
  • ForestryA field-oriented study of forest ecosystems and the environmental components and processes (biological, physical, and chemical) that affect them, including management practices. Majors are trained in an interdisciplinary fashion, combining traditional forestry coursework (dendrology, silviculture, forest ecology, and natural resource management) with classes outside the department in biology, chemistry, economics, and mathematics. Students may choose from a myriad of courses, covering topics such as soils, hydrology, natural resource policy, GIS (geographic information systems), wildlife management, urban forest management, and forest and watershed restoration. Along with students majoring in geology and natural resources, forestry majors take part in the department’s junior presentations seminar and senior capstone course, the latter providing students with a variety of options for self-motivated field work or research.
  • Geology - A study of processes affecting the earth—geological, hydrological, and chemical. With this field-oriented major, students examine past and present-day connections between earth features and processes, including rocks, minerals, and fossils, as well as glaciers, earthquakes, volcanoes, atmospheric gases, surface and subsurface water, and environmental pollutants. Students also take required or recommended classes in forestry, soils, chemistry, physics, and/or mathematics.
  • Natural Resources and the EnvironmentAn interdisciplinary environmental major that integrates coursework in forest ecosystems with geology and a broad range of other environmental classes offered. Similar to the other majors of the department, this program emphasizes the interrelationships between issues such as climate change, land use, sustainable development, food systems, pollution, and human health. The University Domain is used often for field work, as well as other nearby areas including stream drainages of local watersheds. Other sites in the greater Appalachians, as well as St. Catherine’s barrier island, the Rocky Mountains, and the Colorado Plateau region, are studied in specific courses. Skills developed in the major include computer use (database, GIS software and mapping, and word processing), field identifications, laboratory analysis, and effective oral and written communication. The latter is facilitated by the writing portfolio requirement (applicable to the Natural Resources, Forestry, and Geology majors), for which students take a variety of writing intensive courses and compile written and revised scientific papers with the help of their adviser.

Minors and certificates available within SIPE include Archaeology, Biology, Forestry, Geology, Environmental Studies, Religion and the Environment, and the Watershed Science Certificate.