Freshwater Science and Sustainability

Freshwater is our most precious natural resource, but high demand and limited supply threaten freshwater ecosystems and ensure that human societies will be increasingly challenged by water scarcity and impaired water quality.

In the freshwater science and sustainability program, you'll join students who will tackle the regional, national and global sustainability challenges of freshwater in the 21st century. You'll blend a rigorous academic core with electives meant to further your individual career goals—whether conservation biology, aquatic ecology, resource management, water quality, public health, environmental writing, policymaking, law or others. You'll become part of a community of practitioners devoted to the wise stewardship of our most precious resource.

The freshwater program of study is interdisciplinary and integrative, providing students with the knowledge, training and skills to:

  • Understand and research freshwater ecosystems, including biology, chemistry, hydrology and limnology, along with the scientific dimensions of freshwater resource management.
  • Situate freshwater science within the larger environmental, socio-economic and cultural dimensions of sustainable management and problem-solving in freshwater systems.

Our program fosters an understanding of both the core principles within and the intersections between the three pillars of sustainability: environmental, social and economic systems, with a particular emphasis on freshwater sciences.

As a freshwater science and sustainability major, you will take 72 to 74 credit hours of required coursework focused on freshwater and sustainability. Because of the rigorous interdisciplinary nature of the freshwater program, and the large number of credit hours required for the degree, the program does not require a minor. Additionally, this program offers a number of courses in hybrid or online formats. These may include significant fieldwork components required to successfully complete the course. Summer coursework may be required to complete the program.

Beyond the classroom

Students are encouraged to gain valuable experience outside the classroom by taking part in cutting-edge research projects with a faculty mentor or pursuing an internship. Research programs and internships provide real-life, hands-on experience in subjects you learn about during class and may help identify specific career paths.

Student organizations such as Students for a Sustainable Earth and working with WMU's Office for Sustainability also offer ample opportunities for you to get involved and gain real-world experience.

After you graduate

Career opportunities for graduates of WMU's freshwater science and sustainability program include:

  • Aquatic biologists
  • Conservation scientists
  • Freshwater quality analysts
  • Watershed managers
  • Sustainability coordinators
  • Environmental and resource managers
  • Corporate social responsibility coordinators
  • Environmental consultants or advocates

The degree will also prepare you to pursue graduate studies in a wide variety of disciplines such as freshwater biology and ecology, hydrology, water resource management, environmental policy and environmental law.

Where is this program offered?

  • Kalamazoo

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