Learning by Doing in Environmental Science
Environmental science majors learn best when they apply their knowledge to real-life situations in a hands-on manner. This starts in laboratory experiences associated with classes but also carries through to experiences outside of class. Environmental science students at Bridgewater are strongly encouraged and sometimes required to seek out research, internship and volunteer experiences.
Science is not a unchanging set of facts, but a process of learning about the world. The process of doing scientific research reinforces concepts learned in class, helps develop critical thinking skills and improves students ability to work and learn independently. This makes students more confident and better prepared for work in the real world whether or not it involves academic research.
Bridgewater students carry out research projects in a variety of contexts. A number of classes require independent research projects. Many students choose to carry out their own summer, semester or year-long research project with the mentorship of a member of the faculty. Others perform research off campus in conjunction with a summer job, internship or class.
Many of our majors acquire real-world experience through internships. These experiences take place during the summer and during the school year and may be paid or unpaid. Internships give students a close up view of professions and organizations in their field of interest. In the process, they make contacts in their field of interest and provide a valuable service to the groups that they intern with.
Bridgewater students commonly intern with the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) and Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (DGIF). Other local opportunities include local conservation groups, the National Forest and Shenandoah National Park. The office of career services works with students to find and setup internship opportunities.
Environmental science majors are encouraged to volunteer during the school year and/or during the summer. Whether it is cleaning up a local stream, planting trees as part of an ecosystem restoration or stuffing envelopes for a conservation organization, volunteering encourages students to get involved in conservation activities and in their communities.