Becoming home to the environmental studies program in 2016 was a major catalyst for the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences to adopt the name School of the Environment.
“With the environmental studies program as part of our department we had a 3:1 non-science to science student ratio,” says Joel Gagnon, director of the School of the Environment. “With that type of ratio, calling our unit earth and environmental sciences was problematic from a recruiting standpoint.”
While the name change was approved by Senate in early March, Dr. Gagnon says the school waited to make any major announcements until its new web presence was ready to launch.
“Our unit is home to the environmental science and environmental studies degree programs,” says Gagnon. “And there is a lot of social science in the environmental studies program — it’s environmental law, it’s environmental policy, it’s environmental ethics. We want to maintain and grow that.”
The School of the Environment’s new web page reflects this change, showcasing both the hard and social sciences, and aims to become an access point for the diverse environment resources available at the University of Windsor.
“We are very well positioned now with the programs that we have,” says Gagnon. “We are able to provide a holistic human environment interaction with the studies program, as well as a focus on environmental systems with the science program.”
Undergrads who began their degrees in the environmental science and environmental studies programs this September were the first students to officially start their academic careers in the School of the Environment.
“The name change is designed to meet student expectations,” says Gagnon. “When prospective students asked about our environmental studies program, and we would direct them to the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences — you get the sense that they feel they’re being offered something they don’t want. Our message to these students has to be clear, consistent, and accessible.”