Environmental Conversations

Kiara Jorgenson


Environmental Conversations ("EnCon") is a learning community organized around regular elective and required courses, open to incoming first-year students, and focused on questions of environmental policy, science, and values.  Through courses and co-curricular opportunities, EnCon prepares students to think about moral, scientific, and practical dimensions of human relationships with the rest of nature. EnCon is a three course sequence.  In the fall and spring, students complete two regular requirements of the first-year curriculum: Religion 121 and Writing 111.  EnCon sections of these courses focus specifically on environmental themes.  In the Interim, students take ENVST 137 Introduction to Environmental Studies. EnCon students engage in student-led sustainability initiatives, and learn about environmental questions and opportunities facing the college - from the student-run farm "StoGrow," to the college wind turbine.  They become part of a larger community of students who seek to think clearly and responsibly about environmental policy, sustainability, and "the moral ecology of everyday life."

Intended Learning Outcomes for the Program

Admission to the Program

Students apply to EnCon after they are admitted to the college.  Each year about 38 first-year students are admitted to the program.  In the fall and spring this cohort divides in two different sections of 19 students each to take Religion 121 or Writing 111. In the Interim, they come together as a cohort to take ENVST 137.  EnCon is open to students of all interests, and provides an appropriate foundation for any major at the college. 

Course Equivalents for General Education Requirements

By successfully completing EnCon, students fulfill the following GE requirements:

Biblical and Theological Studies - Bible (BTS-B)

First-Year Writing (FYW)

Integrated Scientific Topics (IST)

REL 121 Bible in Culture and Community

Typical section topics for Religion 121 are:

  • "Land, Food, and Justice in Biblical Tradition"
  • "The Bible and the Idea of Nature"
  • "Word and Water"

WRIT 111 First-Year Writing

Typical section topics for Writing 111 are:

  • "Doing Democracy: The Politics of Food"
  • "Nature's Mysteries: Insights, Impacts and Inspirations in the Backyard"
  • "The Nature of Nature Writing"
  • “Living in the Anthropocene”
  • “Climate Fiction, Social Critique, and Our Imagined Future”

ENVST 137 Introduction to Environmental Studies

Director, 2020-2021

Kiara Jorgenson

Assistant Professor of Religion and Environmental Studies

Jennifer Brentrup

Visiting Assistant Professor of Biology and Environmental Studies

Anne M. Gothmann

Assistant Professor of Environmental Studies and Physics

Peder J. Jothen

Associate Professor of Practice in Religion

religious ethics

Anthony D. Lott

Associate Professor of Political Science and Environmental Studies

international law; international relations; international security

Jeremy (Sequoia) Nagamatsu

Assistant Professor of English

fiction; creative nonfiction

Juliet Patterson

Associate Professor of Practice in English

creative writing; contemporary American poetics; hybrid literature; environmental literature