Skip Navigation

College Creates New Environmental Studies Department

The interdisciplinary courses in Keene State’s newly created Environmental Studies Department explore how people interact with the environment, incorporating the natural world as well as social and political systems. The curriculum is designed to develop students’ ability to evaluate, analyze, and synthesize complex information relating to environmental issues, and they will graduate with skills that will help them succeed in careers as diverse as environmental consulting, policy making, field research, and staff positions assisting organizations in meeting goals related to sustainability.

“The faculty of Keene State College recognized the critical importance of Environmental Studies when it established the major in 1979,” said Gordon Leversee, dean of the School of Sciences and Social Sciences. “Changing environmental challenges and opportunities have prompted this move from a multi-departmental model to a core faculty model, and the new department represents Keene State’s renewed commitment to address the environmental challenges we face.”

Four core faculty have been assigned to the new department:

  • Dr. Timothy Allen teaches the popular “Energy and the Environment” course, and conducts studies of trace-element mineralogy and groundwater resources.
  • Dr. Renate Gebauer is an ecologist with special expertise in plant-soil-water relationships. Her collaborative relationships include the Hubbard Brook Experimental Forest Ecosystem Study in the White Mountains.
  • Dr. Nora Traviss has expertise in environmental health and safety and is conducting a long-term study on human exposure to diesel exhaust particulates in collaboration with Dartmouth College.
  • Dr. William Fleeger is joining the Keene State faculty this fall and brings his considerable experience in environmental policy studies, including serving as program director of the Regional Ecosystem Applied Learning Corps at Southern Oregon University. The Corps worked with over 20 land management agencies and community partners on watershed and land management issues, including the Spotted Owl project.

Emerging green technologies and concerns about climate change are hot topics in the news lately, but sustainability and environmental awareness have been a way of life at Keene State College for some time now.

A faculty-led recycling program was created in the 1970s, and the establishment of the President’s Council for a Sustainable Future (PCSF) in 1996 pushed campus operations to become more sustainable: Many departments use electric cars to get around campus; few chemicals are used to maintain the beautiful lawns, arboretum, and gardens; and in winter alternative pre-treatments minimize salt and sand use on walkways and parking lots. KSC has the only LEED building in Cheshire County (the Pondside III residence is LEED Silver), and campus construction projects seek managers with experience in high-performance buildings, C&D waste/recycling management, and indoor-air-quality management protocol.

As this culture of environmental awareness grew at Keene State over the years, so did the number of courses focusing on sustainability. Last year a new major, SPEDI (Sustainable Product Design and Innovation) was launched, expanding on existing courses in the Architecture and Safety Studies programs that have long featured sustainable building design courses, management courses grounded in sustainability principles, and safety studies courses that look for ways to reduce worker hazards. Often students in these courses have used the campus operations as case studies, including a management project to look at transportation numbers, the microbial content of campus compost, and water testing.

Contact Marketing & Communications

Sarah Kossayda
Director of Marketing
☎ 603-358-2119