July 16, 2012 at 10:00am

Professor Roslyn O'€™Conner, instructor of biology and coordinator of the minor, answered a few questions about Millikin University'€™s environmental studies minor.

What prompted Millikin to add this new minor?

Over the past few years, there had been talk in the biology department of creating this minor. We do offer an '€œenvironmental track'€ within our biology major, but we wanted an option for non-biology majors who were interested in environmental issues. With feedback from across campus, we developed a minor that incorporates areas of study from across the university. The environmental studies minor includes courses from sociology, English, economics, communications, philosophy and biology.

What are its benefits?

We believe the minor will increase the number of students choosing to attend Millikin. I have been teaching for over 20 years, and each year I have seen an increase in student interest in the environment and a desire to make a difference. By providing this minor, we are allowing students to not only follow the passion of their chosen major but also follow their passion of making the world a better place. Therefore, helping them to achieve of professional success, democratic citizenship in a global environment, and a personal life of meaning and value '€”the three prepares of the university mission.

Why should students sign up for it?

More and more companies are creating sustainability initiatives, and they require employees with the knowledge to make these initiatives happen. Local and state governments as well as the federal government are embracing the '€œgreen'€ movement and implementing eco-friendly practices, so they will also need employees that know how to address the issues. In addition, not-for-profit organizations would be potential employers for students with the minor. We view this minor as enhancing any major and increasing a student'€™s marketability in an increasingly environmentally aware world.

Millikin's environmental studies minor gives students opportunities to become advocates for a greener society. May graduate Ali Oremus added the minor when it was first offered in 2011.

"I picked up this minor because I have an extreme passion to make the environment around us a more beautiful place - for ourselves and future generations," Oremus says. "Being able to express my passion and boost my knowledge about a topic I care so deeply about is exciting and new to me."

Oremus says it also satisfied her hunger for adventure, especially on immersion trips with Dr. Judy Parrish, professor of biology.

"Professor Parrish really throws you into the wilderness and lets you experience just how unique and wonderful the outside world can be, whether it's in the deep rain-forest jungles of Costa Rica or almost getting charged by a caribou in Alaskan national parks."

Students are encouraged to complete internships, immersions and gain access to local environmental resources. "This minor has completely let me shake up my usual routine," says Oremus, who graduated in May with a bachelor's degree in mass media communication.

"[These classes gave] me a new set of skills and information that I wouldn't have had so fine-tuned if I were simply a communication major."

Oremus feels that students adding this minor can learn how to help preserve the planet and feel rewarded as a result.

"Take action! Change in the world begins with you," she says. "If you have a passion for something, go out and do it."

The coordinator, Professor Roslyn O'Conner, instructor of biology, suggests that adding this minor is a good career move for a student of any major.

"More and more companies are creating sustainability initiatives, and they require employees with the knowledge to make these initiatives happen," she says. "Local and state governments as well as the federal government are embracing the "green" movement and implementing eco-friendly practices, so they will also need employees that know how to address the issues. We view this minor as increasing a student's marketability in an increasingly environmentally aware world."

Find out more about the environmental studies minor at www.millikin.edu/alumni/stayconnected/quarterly.