Program Overview

Environmental Studies

Oberlin offers both a major and a minor in environmental studies. Our program seeks to create a learning environment that fosters an understanding of the causes and consequences of our environmental predicaments, as well as help our students develop the creative problem-solving skills to design a more sustainable relationship between humans and the rest of the natural world.

Professor points at a drawing titled 'Horses Chased by Wolves' alongside a photo of a man identified as Pop Chalee (Taos/Indian).
Professor Chie Sakakibara teaches the course Indigenous Environmentalism.
Photo credit: Yevhen Gulenko

Program Facts


Karl Offen,
Professor of Environmental Studies



Ours is an interdisciplinary program that investigates and considers solutions for various environmental challenges facing our world through critical thinking, community engagement, and skill development.

Browse Curriculum

Four students sit together on the floor, working on a group project. Viewed looking down from above.
Students work in groups in the ENVS 302 American Agricultures course with Prof. Janet Fiskio. The course examines agrarian thinking and food justice movements in the United States through literature, essays, film, and field trips.
Photo credit: Michael Hartman

Environmental Studies Faculty

  • Photo of Paul Brehm

    Paul Brehm

    Assistant Professor of Economics and Environmental Studies

  • Photo of Janet Fiskio

    Janet Fiskio

    Associate Professor of Environmental Studies and Comparative American Studies

  • Man sitting against a desk in blue plaid shirt.

    Benjamin Hobbs

    AJLC Facilities Manager and Community Outreach Coordinator

  • Kip Grosvenor Hutchins.

    Kip Grosvenor Hutchins

    Visiting Instructor in Anthropology, East Asian Studies, and Environmental Studies

  • Roger Laushman in green plaid shirt.

    Roger Laushman

    Associate Professor of Biology and David Orr Associate Professor of Environmental Studies

  • portrait of Brad Melzer who wears glasses and had a tan sport coat and printed shirt.

    Brad Melzer

    Visiting Lecturer in Environmental Studies

  • Karl Offen

    Karl Offen

    Professor of Environmental Studies

  • Swapna Pathak in glasses and navy polka dot blouse.

    Swapna Pathak

    Assistant Professor of Environmental Studies

  • portrait of smiling man standing and wearing a blue-gray button-down shirt.

    John Petersen ’88

    Paul Sears Distinguished Professor of Environmental Studies and Biology

  • Photo of Chie Sakakibara

    Chie Sakakibara

    Assistant Professor of Environmental Studies

  • Photo of Md Rumi Shammin

    Md Rumi Shammin

    Associate Professor of Environmental Studies

Affiliated Faculty

Cheryl Cottine

Assistant Professor of Religion

Matthew (Matt) Elrod

Robert and Eleanor Biggs Professor of Natural Science and Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry

Cynthia (Cindy) Frantz

Professor of Psychology and Environmental Studies

Roger Laushman

Associate Professor of Biology and David Orr Associate Professor of Environmental Studies

T. S. McMillin

Professor of English

Thomas (Tom) Newlin

Professor of Russian

Christie Parris

Assistant Professor of Sociology

Ann Sherif

Professor of Japanese

Where Fieldwork Is Really Fieldwork

Environmental studies majors have access to abundant resources on campus and beyond.

Community Partners & Experiential Learning

A group of students with shovels and buckets in a field. Some are standing and others are crouching, examining the soil.
George Jones Memorial Farm serves as an outdoor classroom for Oberlin students. With a focus on restoration agriculture, techniques used here help build soil and create healthier, more nutritious crops.
Photo credit: Yevhen Gulenko

Environmental Studies News

The Transition From Student Senate to Washington, D.C.

December 8, 2020

When he was growing up, Machmud Makhmudov ’15 noticed how communities from different parts of the world created lives that struggled, grew, and thrived alongside one another. That insight served him well as a policy advisor for the presidential campaign and stands to be an impression in his new role with the incoming Biden Administration.
A man student sitting on a couch.

Talking Sustainability with Oberlin’s Green EDGE Fund

November 13, 2020

October was Sustainability Month at Oberlin, and no group is more dedicated to its celebration than the Green EDGE Fund. Composed of 10 student board members, the organization distributes funds to community-based projects dedicated to environmental sustainability.
Eight people seated in a row in building lobby.

Engaged Liberal Arts

At Oberlin you’ll take what you’re learning in your courses and put it into practice through Research, Internships, Study Away, and Experiential Learning.

Inside a rustic structure with exposed beams, students sit around a table with notebooks and soft drinks.