Academic Opportunities

Field Opportunities

In Iowa

Conard Environmental Research Area (CERA) is a superb facility that supports many of Grinnell's field courses. Its 365 acres of rolling topography, located 10 miles from campus, include 150 acres of restored prairie grassland, 100 acres of riparian and upland forest, a 14 acre lake, a half mile of the North Skunk River, nearly 15,000 native trees and shrubs, and a permanent field laboratory.

In the spirit of enterprise that informs Grinnell, students are encouraged to create their own off campus internships and research opportunities; the environmental studies concentration supports internships on a competitive basis. Many students also participate in campus organizations such as the Eco-Campus Committee.

In Belize and Brazil

Students who are interested in environmental studies often assist their professors with research. During the past fifteen years, dozens of students have accompanied Prof. Campbell on summer trips to the Brazilian Amazon and Belize to study patterns of diversity in tropical forests and in coral reefs.


Every summer, with support from the Ann Smeltzer Charitable Trust, the Environmental Studies Concentration at Grinnell College awards qualified sophomores and juniors with highly competitive internships, of up to $3,200, to conduct research in environmental studies or to work at organizations dedicated to the field.

Grinnell College Environmental Studies Internship

Information for many summer grants are on GrinnellShare (login required), including the Environmental Studies Internship.

Awards, Grants, Scholarships, and Fellowships

Information for many scholarships can be found on GrinnellShare (login required), including Boren, Gates Cambridge, Gilman, Marshall, Mitchell, and Rhodes Scholarships. 

Career Opportunities

Grinnell graduates in Environmental Studies work in many environmental fields, including environmental consulting, government, science, teaching, law, research, public health and public outreach programs. One recent graduate is designing environmentally safe landfills, another managed a conservation zone located on the site of Denver's old Stapleton Airport, and another collected plants from all over the world for the New York Botanical Garden. Specific job titles recent graduates hold include: Political Director for the Sierra Club, Environmental Review Specialist for the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, Professor of Biology at Queen's University, and Researcher at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

More career information can be found on the Environmental Science organization website.   The Balance website lists the top 9 jobs in 2016 for environmental studies majors

Post-Graduate Studies

Grinnell students who graduate with an Environmental Studies concentration are accepted into top graduate and professional schools. In recent years these have included (among others) Yale, Duke, Cornell, Harvard, American University Law School, Stanford, and the University of Washington. Some have also received prestigious awards such as the Fullbright and Watson Fellowships, which allows them to study abroad for a year, pursuing a Wanderjahr of their own choosing. In the past, Environmental Studies students at Grinnell have won Watson Fellowships to study topics as diverse as: "The impact of Tourism on the Conservation of Whales," "Toxic Waste Disposal in the Baltic Countries," and "The Human Signature on the Rainforest." Other students won Fullbright Fellowships to study silviculture in the Brazilian Amazon and island biogeography in Australia.

Activities and Organizations

The Program in Nations and the Global Environment

Grinnell's liberal arts and sciences curriculum offers an ideal medium for the interdisciplinary study of world environmental issues. The college's particular strengths in international education and the natural sciences, reinforced by resources provided by the Henry Luce Foundation, have combined to establish a new program that explores the relationship of science, public policy, and global development.

The Program in Nations and the Global Environment provides a more integrated focus for the College's growing efforts to address issues of the environment and public policy, to relate these issues to the local, national, and international arenas, and to promote global awareness through study of other nations and cultures.

If the college is to fulfill its mission of educating students to be responsible world citizens, Grinnell students must think globally in order to deal effectively with the increasingly complex interactions between nations and the environment. The challenge is to integrate scientific knowledge in the making of public policy, public policy concerns into the practice of science, and both into the study of the relationship between nations and the global environment.

To meet this challenge, Grinnell has created an educational model for thinking and acting globally, through curricular initiatives, such as "Nations and the Global Environment," special topics courses, field courses in Belize and the senior seminar. This program stimulates cross-curricular thinking about environmental issues and recognizes the interdependent qualities of these issues at all levels.

Luce-Rosenfield Symposia

Every Spring, the Henry R. Luce Program in Nations and the Global Environment and the Rosenfield Program co-sponsor a major symposium. The 2012 symposium focused on sustainability and corporate social responsibility.

Alum Trips

David Campbell, Professor of Biology, has led several trips to study natural history in the heart of the Brazilian Amazon. The groups of Grinnell College alumni and students would spend two weeks with Campbell near the confluence of the Rios Negro and the Solimões, exploring the white and black-water tributaries of the Amazon, isolated lakes, the upland and flooded forests, by day and by night. These were voyages of adventure and beauty as passengers discovered the flora, fauna, and ecology of this most complex of Early biomes.


The Student Educational Policy Committee, or SEPC, is a student-faculty liaison group which provides faculty with student input on professors, candidates, curriculum, and other departmental issues. It also organizes social events within the department.