By Cassandra Sottile
Elm Staff Writer
Environmental science and studies students can now earn their bachelor’s and master’s degrees in five years through the dual-degree partnership with Duke University’s Nicholas School of the Environment, which is known for its forestry and environmental management courses as well as its marine lab.
Washington College is now among one of the schools participating in the Cooperative College (3-2) program with Duke University.
The partnership began in 2012, but the development of it was completed last fall.
“It took the better part of the last year to develop a curriculum proposal that was approved by the faculty and get the agreement signed by senior staff at both institutions,” said Dr. Karl Kehm, associate professor of environmental science and studies, who also established the program.
“Although the faculty was interested in the dual degree program, the real impetus to pursue this partnership came from [Board of Visitors and Governors] members and friends of the College,” he said.
According to the WC website, students interested in the program must maintain a minimum GPA of 3.0, earning at least a B in all undergraduate courses required for admission to the master’s program, and take all classes that are required to fulfill the major in either environmental science or studies, minus the senior capstone experience.
Students who fulfill major and distribution requirements at WC and meet Duke’s entrance requirements leave WC after their third year for graduate school at Duke’s Nicholas School of the Environment. Students then attend Duke for two years, upon completion of their first year, they will receive their undergraduate degree. Students will graduate from Duke the next year, after five years, with either a Master of Environmental Management or a Master of Forestry.
This new program will be available for the incoming freshmen class.
“The main advantage of the partnership is that it permits students to obtain both an undergraduate degree and a master’s degree in five years, studying at two premier institutions for the study of the environment: WC and Duke University,” Dr. Kehm said.
This environmental science and studies dual-degree program joins other programs that already exist at the College, including a program for nursing and pharmacy with the University of Maryland, and an engineering 3-2 program with Columbia University.
“The presence of the partnership helps to stimulate further interest in environmental studies at WC,” he said.
WC alumni Anna Windle and Kelly Dobroski, class of 2016, are enrolled at the Nicholas School in the Master of Environmental Management program. The environmental science and studies department has discussed the possibility for campus visits to expose WC students to graduate research and learning opportunities at Duke while encouraging visits from Duke faculty and students to the College’s campus.
“In the future, we hope to see a steady stream of students taking advantage of this program,” he said.
On the WC website, Dr. Leslie Sherman, environmental science and studies department chair, said, “I had envisioned environmental science students wanting to do the forestry program, because we don’t have forestry here. But our science students want environmental management too, opening a pathway to this program at a fantastic school.”