Environmental Studies at Ripon College

Academics | Environmental Studies

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.



Diane Beres

Karl Beres

Colleen Byron

Samara I. Hamzé

Soren Hauge

Paul Jeffries


Robert Wallace

Skip Wittler




Ripon College encourages all students to embrace a Four-Year Career Development Plan. This plan is based on the premise that career planning is a development process that involves learning and decision-making over an extended period of time.

First Year

  • Incoming students are assigned a Faculty Mentor based on their interest area(s). Please see the FACULTY tab under your major area;
  • All Freshman are required to enroll in a First-Year Seminar, which is designed as a transition from high school to college learning, providing an interdisciplinary introduction to the liberal arts and the pursuit of in-depth study;
  • Freshman are encouraged to meet the career development staff early on and complete interest and skills inventories, and self-assessment tools; and,
  • Attend the pre-Fall Break “Major Fest” to explore the various major options and career tracks.

Third Year

  • Assume leadership positions in on-campus clubs and organizations;
  • Participate in mock interviews with the Career Development Office;
  • Attend the Wisconsin Foundation of Independent Colleges Job Fair in February and other relevant career fairs;
  • If relevant, begin to research potential graduate school programs and take the appropriate entrance exam(s);
  • Continue to meet regularly with your Faculty Mentor;
  • Continue to build a solid network and a list of work references, and build your resume;
  • Consider off-campus study: Semester and/or alternative Spring Breaks;
  • Continue to job shadow; and,
  • Gain further career experience associated with your education during the academic year and as part of a summer job or internship.

Second Year

  • Get involved with on-campus clubs and organizations, athletic teams and/or intramural sports;
  • Attend the pre-Fall Break “Major Fest” to explore the various major options and career tracks;
  • Declare a major;
  • Meet regularly with your Faculty Mentor or match your interests with a faculty member in your major department. Determine which professors have areas of expertise most similar to your interests. Talk to people in the academic department to find out about faculty research, scholarly, and creative interests;
  • Attend on-campus career workshops;
  • Work with the Career Development Office to create an approved resume;
  • Job shadow people involved in various careers and professions of interest; and,
  • Gain further career experience associated with your education during the academic year and as part of a summer job or internship.

Fourth Year

  • Complete a Senior Capstone/Thesis in your major area(s);
  • Continue to meet regularly with your Faculty Mentor;
  • Perfect your interviewing skills;
  • Expand your existing network of contacts;
  • Finalize your resume and prepare cover letter;
  • Build a credential file in the Career Development Office;
  • Interview with on-campus recruiters;
  • Set-up informational interviews with target companies;
  • If relevant, apply to graduate school programs, and if necessary, re-take entrance exams; and,
  • Practice career goal-setting.


What can I do with an Environmental Studies major?

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 Coordinator
  • Field Organizer
  • Teacher
  • Naturalist
  • Environmental Health Specialist
  • Marketing Communications Specialist
  • Safety Manager
  • Park Ranger


Off-Campus Study Programs

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.