Environmental Studies Certificate Program
A healthy environment is vital to rural Alaskans and their subsistence way of life. For example, the estuaries of the Bristol Bay region are the nurseries to one of the world’s last great sustainable salmon fishery and are the foundation of Alaska’s subsistence culture. Even though the population of Alaska is small, climate change and globalization are threatening the region’s economic, social, and environmental health including estuaries. To better understand change, rural residents are undertaking environmental monitoring and sampling programs to warn of potential hazards. To meet this need, the UAF Bristol Bay Campus has used USDA funding to develop an Environmental Studies Certificate.
There is a need for more rural environmental specialists to become involved studies and policy making. The unspoiled landscape of southwest Alaska provides the backdrop for students entering academic programs that teach technical skills, and gives hands-on experience for careers in environmental studies. This place-based program combines contemporary scientific studies with traditional knowledge to better prepare graduates for rural entry-level jobs while giving the academic base to continue formal education in environmental studies or in natural science. Since the program was piloted in 2006, the ENVI Certificate and its elective courses have provided educational opportunities for the region’s residents, particularly Alaska Natives. Further, this has empowered many students and their communities to adapt to the overwhelming outside social, ecological, and economic pressures on resources.