• Overview
  • Faculty
  • Requirements
  • Advising
  • Career Tracks
  • Off-Campus Study

Environmental Studies


Environmental studies at Ripon crosses over traditional disciplinary boundaries. To meet the demands of their varying interests, students customize their majors by selecting courses in art, anthropology, biology, chemistry, economics, history, mathematics, philosophy, politics and government and sociology.

Many Ripon graduates who majored in environmental studies, biology or a related field have gone on to careers in environmental fields. Among them are the CEO of an environmental consulting firm, an industrial hygiene manager, an environmental lawyer, a professional with the Environmental Protection Agency, and several who are making their careers in the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. Many environmental studies graduates pursue master’s and Ph.D. degrees.

Program Spotlight


Colleen Byron

Colleen Byron

Professor of Chemistry, Chair of Chemistry Department, L. Leone Oyster '19 Chair in Chemistry

[email protected]
Skip Wittler

George “Skip” Wittler

Professor of Biology, William Harley Barber Distinguished Professor, Director of Ceresco Conservancy

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Memuna Khan

Memuna Khan

Associate Professor of Biology, Chair of Biology Department

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Paul Jeffries

Paul Jeffries

Associate Professor of Philosophy, Chair of Philosophy Department, Coordinator of First-Year Studies Program

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Robert Wallace

Robert Wallace

Professor of Biology, The Patricia and Philip McCullough 1969 Professor in Biology

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Sarah Frohardt-Lane

Sarah Frohardt-Lane

Assistant Professor of History

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Soren Hauge

Soren Hauge

John Barlow Murray ’37 and Nellie Weiss Murray ’37 Professor in Economics, Assessment and Accreditation Coordinator

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Requirements for a major in environmental studies: All students must take ENV 120, 243, 247, 332, 500; CHM 100 or 111/112; MTH 120 (or PSC 211), plus 11 elective credits. Besides environmental studies courses, the following courses may be counted: I: Natural Science and Mathematics — BIO 337, 338, 339, 450; CHM 211; selected course in mathematics (with permission of the director); II: Social Sciences — ECO 361 or 461; ANT 222; SOC 210 (with permision of the director; III: Arts and Humanities — CMM 236; HIS 285, 385; PHL 353; ART 190 (with permission of the director). A minimum of 3 credits from at least two of these categories must be included in the electives. Note that the lists presented above are not exhaustive: departmental studies or special topics courses that have a significant environmental component also may be counted in any of these areas. Students should consult with the director of the major for details about how to include other relevant courses in their program of study. Students must complete a capstone project. The student must write a substantial paper on the project, under the supervision of their advisor, and give a public presentation about the project as part of their enrollment in ENV 500. The project can be done as independent study or be based on a project undertaken during the student’s off-campus experience or for some course outside the major. The project must be approved by the director and normally should be completed prior to enrollment in ENV 500. Students must develop a portfolio consisting of samples of their work from all courses counted for the major. The portfolio will be refined and presented for approval in ENV 500. Students must complete an internship or an off-campus field experience. Some programs that may fulfill the field experience include Woods Hole, the SEA Semester and Oak Ridge. Many ACM study-abroad programs also may be used, including those in Costa Rica, Tanzania, Brazil, Botswana, India and Italy. Other programs are available; consult with the director of Environmental Studies. Students may count an appropriate In Focus course as their off-campus experience. However, no course can be counted both as the internship or off-campus experience and as one of the elective courses. Students wishing to pursue graduate work in environmental studies are encouraged to take additional courses in an area of specialty (e.g., biology, chemistry, economics, politics and government, sociology, anthropology).


Ripon College faculty and professional staff are dedicated to helping you reach your goals, whatever they may be and however often they may change along the way. It’s part of our value statement to you.

As a student at Ripon, you will be assigned a faculty adviser based on your area(s) of interest. You will meet with your faculty adviser throughout your time as a student to discuss your current aspirations, plan your course schedule and plot a future trajectory. We also work collaboratively with Ripon College Career and Professional Development to help match your interests and skills to concrete goals and construct a plan for professional success offering personalized career counseling, off-campus learning opportunities and an online job board with potential to connect with local, national and international employers. Our collaboration with Student Support Services provides tutoring and additional academic and skill development, as well as tools to help with note-taking, exam preparation, goal-setting and time management. Likewise, Mentors in the Collaborative Learning Center provide in-depth, one-on-one or group mentoring for students about class projects and college-level writing, and can share problem-solving strategies to overcome academic obstacles.

Advising at Ripon.

Career Tracks

Environmental studies can lead to careers in research, conservation, sustainability and education. It also provides a background for further work in other disciplines of the social sciences, humanities, and biological sciences, as well as for professional careers in government, business, law, medicine, social services and other fields.

Recent graduates have taken many paths, including graduate school programs in biology, business, law, and education; and careers as biologists, teachers, park rangers and naturalists.

Recent graduates of our program work for:

  • AmeriCorps
  • Brandon Public Library
  • Department of Natural Resources
  • Encap Inc.
  • Hawks Nursery Company Inc.
  • J.R. Thompson Co.
  • Kohler Co.
  • Organizing for America
  • San Joquin County Outdoor Education Program
  • South Central Public Health District
  • Student Conservation Association
  • Ubermind Inc.
  • Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources

Job titles of recent graduates include:

  • Conservation biologist
  • Habitat restoration manager
  • Environmental/ecology consultant
  • Chemical technician
  • Grants & Development doordinator
  • Field organizer
  • Teacher
  • Naturalist
  • Environmental health specialist
  • Marketing communication specialist
  • Safety manager
  • Park ranger

Off-Campus Study

ACM Costa Rica: Field Research in the Environment, Social Sciences, & Humanities. Students conduct field studies in Costa Rica during the spring semester. One recent Ripon graduate studied scarlet macaws and has continued her work with these colorful birds after her graduation.

ACM Tanzania: Ecology & Human Origins. Student divide their time between the University of Dar es Salaam and important anthropological and ecological sites in northern Tanzania. From tent camps, students study in the Serengeti and Ngorongoro areas.

Wilderness Field Station Program. Environmentalists gain first-hand experience in one of the United States’ foremost wilderness areas, the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW). The students in this program share their time between the Wilderness Biological Station and study sites in the BWCAW and Quetico Provincial Park in Ontario, Canada.

The Washington Semester Program. Administered by American University, this program focuses on environmental policy and environmental law.

Ripon students often participate in the Semester in Environmental Science at the Marine Biology Laboratory in Woods Hole, Massachusetts. Others spend a semester on an open-ocean research cruise with the SEA Semester program in marine and environmental studies.

Whether you choose a program that is international or domestic, it is an experience bound to change your view of the world. Click to learn more about Off- Campus Study and Liberal Arts In Focus at Ripon College