GEV's very own Dr. Stephen Strader, Assistant Professor of Geography, recently published an opinion piece in the NY Times about development in areas prone to natural disasters. Read it here.
As a geography or environmental major at Villanova, you will investigate important domestic and global environmental problems, learn how to help create a more sustainable world, and learn essential technical skills. You will get outside the classroom for engaged learning that reflects important dimensions of scientific literacy, participate in internships, study abroad, community projects, and collaborative research with faculty. You may also participate in sustainability projects on campus such as recycling and energy efficiency, and participation through environmental clubs.
In all of our majors, you will enroll in interdisciplinary courses taught by a dynamic and research active faculty from the social and natural sciences.
Heavy Metals in Estuarine Food Webs
Gillen Curren, Environmental Science 2022, was selected as a Beckman Scholar for 2019-2020 (https://www1.villanova.edu/villanova/artsci/research/beckman.html). She is working in the laboratory of Dr. Nathaniel Weston at Villanova University to compare the heavy metal concentrations found in various plants, insects, fish, benthic infauna, and filter feeders from coastal tidal marsh systems in the Delaware Estuary (New Jersey and Delaware), the Plum Island Estuary (Massachusetts), and the York Estuary (Virginia). Heavy metals in estuarine soils are a result of natural rock weathering augmented by anthropogenic sources that are delivered from the watershed to the coastal zone. Anthropogenic sources of heavy metals to coastal systems have become a concern with the increase in development in many coastal watersheds. Research in Dr. Weston’s lab has previously found that these three coastal ecosystems represent a gradient of heavy metal contamination. Gillen’s project will focus on the movement of these heavy metals into the food web in these estuarine ecosystems. Gillen began sampling plants, insects, fish, benthic infauna, and filter feeders in summer 2019, and collections are complete for the Plum Island system and underway in the Delaware River. Gillen will continue sampling during summer 2020. Samples from each organism will be digested using a hot acid microwave digestion system and analyzed on an inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometer (ICP-MS), which will yield the concentrations of a suite of heavy metals in each sample. Gillen will compare the heavy metal concentrations between organisms of the same species across the three estuaries to determine the relationships between heavy metal delivery to the coastal zone and heavy metals in the estuarine food web. In addition, she will compare the concentrations of heavy metals between different organisms within the same estuary to elucidate how the trophic level and location in the estuarine food web influences the heavy metal load of estuarine organisms. Estuarine food webs support the production of fish and shellfish that humans consume, and so understanding levels of potentially toxic heavy metals in estuarine organisms has implications for human health, along with ecosystem health. Should Gillen discover that any of these organisms contain a level of heavy metals that rise to a level of concern for human health, she will contact regional stakeholders and managers for appropriate public notice.
Geography is an exciting discipline with great variety and tremendous relevance in the modern, globalized world. It is often said that you can make your own history, but you have to live with your geography. Geographers examine the content of space and explain the dynamics of what is taking place in that space. Geographers study important topics such climate change, political and economic systems, natural hazards, and population and demographics just to name a few.
The Environmental Science and Environmental Studies programs are complementary and both provide a fundamental scientific understanding of environmental processes. Environmental specialists examine the science of the environment and develop solutions to some of the most important problems of our time. Students enrolled in our environmental majors work at the nexus of the natural and human landscape, and both majors are grounded in research, a rigorous science foundation, problem–solving methods, data analysis, and developing open–ended solutions to complex environmental issues.
Environmental Justice and Sustainability is focused upon the social science of decision-making around some of the most important global challenges of our time: climate change, the potential of fair trade, and of domestic and international initiatives to protect the environment.
These courses will teach you how to use very powerful analytical tools such as digital elevation models, satellite imagery, Geographic Information Systems, and GPS to solve pressing geographic and environmental problems. These are some the highest technology platforms on campus and our industry partners tell us that these skills are in high demand in the work place.
The number of careers in geography and environmental fields are growing rapidly. The U.S. Department of Labor projects a 25 percent increase in demand for environmental specialists and geospatial specialists. To this end, a rigorous foundation in the disciplines offered by our Department yields significant benefits for our graduates. Students in our programs leave Villanova with a highly competitive and marketable education, and they are well situated to compete in today’s job market. We firmly believe that our programs are preparing our students well for their challenges following graduation. Since 2012, 93% of our students are positioned in jobs related to their major, or are attending a high–quality graduate or professional school.
The Department of Geography and the Environment provides a high quality, multidisciplinary educational experience in the areas of Geography, Geographic Information Systems, Environmental Science, and Environmental Studies. We investigate and study the Earth, its processes, systems, and peoples, and therefore, are committed to enhancing the richness and vibrancy of our planet in our academic, community, and personal endeavors. As a link between the social and natural sciences within the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, we recognize the intrinsic value gained from our unique backgrounds and experiences.
The Department is committed to maintaining, fostering, and celebrating a community that includes people of all ages, genders, abilities, races, ethnic origins, religions, socioeconomic status, sexual orientation, creed, and political views. We foster an atmosphere of open dialogue and incorporate innovative classroom instruction, creative laboratory and field experiences, and student-led research to ensure a high quality of learning and teaching. Our goal is to develop students and faculty who engage in and are dedicated to critical thinking, open-ended problem solving, and a lifetime of learning.
Integrate the disciplines of geography and environmental science in seeking to understand the spatial patterns of human and natural environments, the physical and social processes that produce those patterns, and their interaction in specific places and around the world.
Provide an interdisciplinary curriculum focused on the interactions between humans and the environment.
Employ geo-technologies to examine human and natural landscapes, and the social, economic, political, and legal framework in which environmental issues are intertwined.
Develop in our students the ability to critically analyze and formulate ranges of possible solutions to complex human and environmental issues that include consideration of social, economic, cultural, political, and scientific dynamics.
Offer practical degree programs in emerging fields, potentially attracting students with diverse, but overlapping, interests to interact in mutually beneficial ways.
Foster interdisciplinary and cross-college cooperation in environmental education and research.
Support the University’s multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary concentrations and interest groups, by administering the Environmental Studies Concentration, and by interacting with existing area concentrations (Africana Studies, Arab and Islamic Studies, East Asia Studies, Latin American Studies Russian Studies), with the Center for Peace and Justice Education, and with the Women’s Studies Program, and by interacting with key areas in the College of Engineering and the Villanova School of Business.
Support the core mission of the University by educating Villanova students in the geographic and environmental perspectives and introducing appropriate technical skills.
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