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Concentration in Environmental Studies


The Hillyer College environmental studies concentration offers students an interdisciplinary approach to ecology, current and historical environmental issues, and the interrelationships between the natural and social world. 

This concentration is part of Hillyer College’s liberal arts core curriculum, which facilitates the transfer of credits within the University of Hartford. Students who complete their Hillyer requirements in the recommended two years not only receive an Associate of Arts degree but also are prepared to complete most baccalaureate degrees offered by the University within a total of four years.

The environmental studies program brings together courses in sociology, biology, natural sciences, philosophy, and literature to provide students with a wide and varied perspective on environmental issues. The program also provides background knowledge and critical thinking tools they will need to make environmental decisions both as individuals and as members of society.

Because of its interdisciplinary focus, the environmental studies concentration provides an excellent foundation for students wanting to continue working toward a bachelor of arts degree in liberal arts in the University’s College of Arts and Sciences or toward a bachelor of science degree in the University’s College of Engineering, Technology, and Architecture, which offers an environmental concentration as part of its civil engineering major.

The Hillyer environmental studies concentration requires that students take five courses from an extensive course offering that includes Environmental Science, Environmental Literature, Cultural Anthropology, Ethics, Urban Politics, and Sociology of the Connecticut River Watershed. Each year the program also offers a special topics course that brings in-depth focus, and potential fieldwork, to a particular subject area. For example, a special topics course, Tropical Ecology, includes a research trip to Costa Rica.   

A number of courses in Hillyer’s environmental studies concentration emphasize service learning, fieldwork, and research, with students conducting special projects in Hartford-area rivers and watersheds. Students in the environmental studies program have helped identify Hartford-area river watersheds for permanent wetlands protection status, and, in kayaks and canoes, they’ve studied the history and ecology of the Connecticut and Farmington Rivers.

Environmental studies students participate in grassroots efforts, sometimes in partnership with Hartford-area nonprofit organizations, on river clean-ups and campaigns against the use of plastic beverage bottles. As part of the service-learning emphasis, students serve as mentors in Hartford-area schools to help elementary, middle, and high school students gain a better understanding of environmental issues.

With increasing opportunities in the workplace for professionals in environmental policy, issues, and technology, environmental studies provides an excellent platform for students who may want to pursue environmental careers.

Protecting Wetlands

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Students in the environmental studies program have helped identify Hartford-area river watersheds for permanent wetlands protection status, and, in kayaks and canoes, they’ve studied the history and ecology of the Connecticut and Farmington Rivers.