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LSU Offers Undergraduate Coastal Environmental Science Degree

LSU is taking its international reputation for excellence in coastal processes, wetland ecology and hurricane research to a new level by offering one of very few available undergraduate degrees in coastal environmental science.

The Bachelors of Science in Coastal Environmental Science is an interdisciplinary, collaborative effort between LSU’s School of Coast & Environment and its two academic departments: the Department of Oceanography and Coastal Sciences and the Department of Environmental Sciences. The curriculum takes advantage of the collective research and teaching expertise of more than 45 faculty in marine and environmental sciences.

“The goal of the program is to build capacity within Louisiana and the Gulf Coast region for addressing environmental issues, particularly those issues related to the large industrial corridor of the Mississippi River and its deltas, and to global climatic change-related sea level rise effects on coastal areas,” said Jaye Cable, director of the new program.

The coastal environmental science degree is intended to produce well-rounded students capable of high-level quantitative and analytical thought. With baseline foundations focusing on intense exposure to chemistry, biology, physics and mathematics, this degree will not limit students to pursuing coastal studies.  Instead, it will offer another option for undergraduate science majors interested in pursuing post-graduate studies in nearly any scientific field – possibly even medical school.

“We are excited with this new degree, which is timely and meets the needs of the state and the university’s Flagship Agenda,” said Nina Lam, chair of the Department of Environmental Sciences.

Louisiana is unique for both climate and environmental research. It’s only natural that the  state’s flagship university takes advantage of its natural surroundings for the benefit of students. With ongoing problems such as loss of wetlands, fisheries depletions, the Gulf of Mexico Dead Zone, the coastal assault by hurricanes, air and water pollution and the impact of human activities on coastal community resilience, the state – and LSU – is situated to offer students real life, real time problems in need of continued research.

“Coastal Louisiana is blessed with large natural and cultural resources. At the same time, we face great coastal challenges. That dynamic tension between our coastal strengths/opportunities versus looming environmental threats serves as a stimulating incubator for challenging our undergraduate students to think creatively,” said Interim Dean of LSU’s School of the Coast & Environment Rick Shaw. “This new curriculum will expose students to the tools necessary for multidisciplinary solutions which consider not only the natural goods and services out coastal ecosystems can provide, but also the environmental sciences, including policy and management coupling human and natural systems.”

Specific program course offerings will include “Aquatic Pollution,” “Mathematical Methods in Science,” “Global Environmental Cycles” and “Hurricanes and Typhoons.”

“We expect graduates of this program to be able to make informed contributions to decisions concerning resource conservation, environmental stewardship and economic growth and development in coastal states,” said Cable. “With its solid foundation in basic sciences and mathematics and emphasis on interdisciplinary problem solving in the junior and senior years, our graduates will be competitive for positions in the best graduate programs. Alternatively, our graduates may work in the private sector as consultants and business people or the public realm as policy makers and environmental managers.”

For more information about the coastal environmental science degree program, please contact Jaye Cable at 225-578-9402 or jcable@lsu.edu, or visit http://www.sce.lsu.edu/c&e_academic2.htm

Ashley Berthelot | Writer | Office of Public Affairs
Fall 2008

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