The outcome of tomorrow is based upon what we do today.
A degree in Environmental Science from La Salle will give students an understanding of Earth’s living and physical environment, how those systems operate, along with the nature and mitigation of human impact on the environment. Watch to learn more.
Courses in this Major
POL 316 – Environmental Law and Policy This course examines an introduction to the rise of environmentalism in the United States. Addresses the major environmental statutes from the Clean Air and Clean Water Acts to the Endangered Species Act, RCRA and Superfund, and also integrates case studies and collaborative learning to evaluate the impact of scientific uncertainty on environmental planning while emphasizing the difficult choices faced in developing environmental policy.
ENV 401 – Fundamentals of Soil Science An overview of soil science, covering the physical, chemical and biological properties of soils. Students will gain an understanding of soil formation, the classification of soils, and the chemical/biological reactions that occur in soils. In the laboratory, students will learn methods of soil analysis, including chemical and mineralogical analyses.
ENV 402 – Environmental Air Quality This course introduces the causes and effects of air pollutants on humans. The source of pollutants, their physical and chemical behavior in the atmosphere, and strategies to mitigate air pollution will be discussed. Students will also be introduced to systems modeling to understand the flow of sources and sinks of atmospheric pollutants.
BIO 403 – Principles of Ecology This course addresses the basic concepts of ecology and a broad introduction to overall biosphere functioning. Major topics include energy flows; nutrient cycles; environmental conditions and their importance; plants and animals at the individual, population, and community level; and the overall functioning and development of the major terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems.
ENV 305 – Environmental Chemistry This course focuses on geochemical processes that occur at or near the surface of the earth which are of particular importance to environmental quality and therefore to humans and ecological systems. Students will explore the foundational concepts required to understand water and soil chemistry. Other topics include the study and use of analytical tools used to determine contamination in sediments, soils and water and the remediation techniques available to cleanup such pollution.
Double majoring or minoring in Environmental Science can help broaden your skill set for environmentally-related careers. It can open doors into careers ranging from Environmental Health to Renewable Energy, Sustainability, Science Communications and Environmental Law.
Adding the Environmental Science minor requires only 6 courses. Students already major in Biology and Chemistry majors have only 3 additional classes to take for the minor due to overlap of courses. A number of overlapping courses may also exist for other double majors, making it easy to add on Environmental Science as a second major.
La Salle’s Environmental Science Department serves qualified students interested in careers in environmental consulting, environmental laboratories, environmental conservation, environmental activism, and environmental education by offering:
Small class sizes, with an average of 22 students, so that our students get the one-on-one attention and support they need to succeed.
Teaching laboratories are equipped with lab and field equipment for analyzing soil, water, and air samples. Students are exposed to using this equipment within their first semester as an Environmental Science major.
Interdisciplinary classes allow students to flexibly choose classes based on their interests, whether they are leaning towards ecology, water quality, or soil science. Our classes include Field Ecology, the Fundamentals of Soil Science, Environmental Air Quality, and Environmental Chemistry.
Undergraduate research opportunities are available to our students early on in Environmental Science. Projects have included examining water pollution at the Willow Grove Naval Air Station, conducting biodiversity surveys of wildlife in urban and suburban environments, and analyzing lead contamination in soils around the city of Philadelphia.
Philadelphia’s urban environment and surrounding regions offer an ideal outdoor classroom for understanding urban environmental problems. Our program takes advantage of these opportunities with field excursions to different sites of interest. These trips have included Pennsylvania’s acid mine drainage sites, Philadelphia’s green buildings like the Philadelphia Friends Center, and different Philadelphia water treatment facilities. Philadelphia also offers internships and volunteer opportunities for our students, ranging from working with the city of Philadelphia on urban planning to the city’s world-class science museums.
The Penllyn Field Station at Wissahickon Creek, owned and operated by La Salle, contains an on-site laboratory for the convenience of conducting student research on and around the Wissahickon Creek. It also acts as an outdoor classroom for a number of our courses.
Greenhouses are available for both teaching and research needs.
Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and Geochemist’s Workbench are just a few of the software programs important for environmental work that are taught and used in our program.
Other instruments available for undergraduate student research include:
Scanning electron microscope, petrographic microscopes, and stereoscopes
Ample interdisciplinary research and internship opportunities are available to students. For Environmental Research, students from Biology, Chemistry, and Integrated Science, Business, and Technology (ISBT) have all conducted research on Environmental Science projects, working one-on-one with our faculty. We take advantage of La Salle’s Penllyn Field Station at the Wissahickon Creek and our Greenhouses in a number of our projects.
Research projects have included:
Conducting biodiversity surveys of wildlife in urban and suburban environments
Examining lead contamination in Philadelphia soils
Developing methods to treat wastewater produced from fracking
Analyzing water pollution at the Willow Grove Naval Air Station
Culturing fungi for removing atmospheric CO2
Our students have also found internships at:
The Appalachian Trail Conservancy doing trail and conservation work
Ecoservices Dominicana managing services to improve carbon footprints
EMSL Analytical in a water chemistry lab
Philadelphia Clean Water Action working on community outreach and environmental campaigns
University of Delaware Extension Scholars Program conducting research on integrated pest management
La Salle undergraduate researchers conducting ecology research at Penllyn Field Station.
What is your current occupation, and what organization/company/business do you work for? At the moment, I am a Project Coordinator at a non-profit called Sostenibilidad 3Rs in the Dominican Republic. I work directly with a United States Agency for International Development (USAID) flagship project named Clean Cities Blue Ocean (CCBO) which has the objective of […]
What was it that inspired you to go into environmental science? Actually my degrees are in geology. When I was studying geology, the field of environmental science was not robust. Over the years my interests have morphed to an environmental emphasis. How did your path lead you to La Salle? When I was applying for […]
What is your current occupation, and what organization/company/business do you work for?
At the moment, I am a Project Coordinator at a non-profit called Sostenibilidad 3Rs in the Dominican Republic. I work directly with a United States Agency for International Development (USAID) flagship project named Clean Cities Blue Ocean (CCBO) which has the objective of reducing the plastics that flow into the ocean each year, especially in an island like Hispaniola.
What inspired you to go into Environmental Science?
I knew that I wanted to study something related to the environment and/ or conservancy. What caught my attention about Environmental Sciences was the fact that it was a multidisciplinary major in which I could be exposed to different areas of the fields that interested me in order to choose an area to specialize later.
How did your time as a student at La Salle help prepare you for your current position?
The scientific background with the practical aspects of laboratories, presentation of results, elaboration of maps and other instruments used to relate the academic work to the reality of the professional world are things that have been very helpful in my current position. Being able to articulate, plan, organize and strategize projects is another tool that has helped me succeed in my current work.
What advice do you have for future college students?
Take advantage of all the things that your professors send over to you, go to career related events, work on your resume early on, and try to think about what you would like to do and ask for advice on which steps to take. Most professors want to help you succeed and achieve your goals.
Alice L. Hoersch, Ph.D.
What was it that inspired you to go into environmental science?
Actually my degrees are in geology. When I was studying geology, the field of environmental science was not robust. Over the years my interests have morphed to an environmental emphasis.
How did your path lead you to La Salle?
When I was applying for positions in my field, I was offered one in industry at a much higher salary; however, I always wanted to teach and La Salle has always been known as a place where teaching comes first.
How do you view your role as a teacher and what do you hope to instill or inspire in your students?
One of the reasons I pursued an academic career was to have the opportunity to mentor students in geology and now in environmental science. My teaching philosophy is to engage students’ minds in the learning process by providing stimulating lectures, activities, lab assignments, field trips and by providing examples of how knowledge can influence the environmental decision-making process. I have worked to develop creative techniques that foster the learning process and lead to students’ development of a desire to learn course material. I encourage classroom participation by encouraging students to get their hands dirty (both figuratively and literally). One of my goals is to train students in the environmental sciences to be critical thinkers and problem solvers in the classroom and in their future work.
If your students could graduate having retained just one lesson, what would you hope it would be?
Never accept statements at face value. Research and critically think about them before committing to any actions.
What is your ideal way to spend free time?
Hanging out with my friends and dogs, playing golf, and reading mysteries and non-fiction
What is the last book that you read?
The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson
How do you view the role of environmental science in the world today?
Environmental science is critical to society today because it offers a specialized, integrated approach to global issues surrounding sustainability, the use of natural resources, how human activity impacts ecosystems, how such activity can cause degradation, and what can be done to mitigate this impact.
Beyond the Classroom
83% of faculty hold a Ph.D. or the highest degree in their field.
Ranked in Forbes list of Best Value Colleges in 2019.
Listed Top 4% nationally in 10-year earnings by Georgetown's Center for Education and the Workforce.
Ranked in the top 50 in the North Region on U.S. News & World Report’s 2022 list of Best Colleges.