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Program on the Environment

An Interdisciplinary Approach to Studying the Environment

The interrelated degrees that compose the UAS Program on the Environment are as interconnected as the environment itself. Spanning a range of subjects from physical science to human impacts to outdoor recreation, UAS environmental degrees are designed for the curious student dedicated to developing solutions to some of the world’s most challenging problems.

The UAS Program on the Environment includes the B.S. in Environmental Science, the B.S. in Environmental Resources, and the B.A. in Environmental Studies (with an optional Outdoor Studies track). Select courses have lab and field components that take advantage of our proximity to ocean, glacier, mountain, and forest environments.

All UAS Program on the Environment students start together, taking courses taught by faculty from both the sciences, social sciences, and humanities. This centralized program structure gives students a chance to explore environmental disciplines and find the right degree path for them — and to easily change that path should their interests evolve later in the program.

Program on the Environment Degrees

 
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Student Experience

Inside the Program on the Environment

Take a deeper look inside the Environmental Sciences, Resources, and Studies degrees that make up the UAS Program on the Environment.

Inside Environmental Sciences and Environmental Resources

Inside Environmental Studies and Outdoor Studies

Inside the Degree

An Interdisciplinary Approach to Learning

Interdisciplinary programs at the University of Alaska Southeast combine a variety of disciplines for you to explore, to think across boundaries, and to chart your own course. The Program on the Environment blends classes in the sciences, humanities, Alaska Native languages, and outdoor skills; refer to the Academic Catalog for the list of courses included in each degree.

Studying Climate Change in Real Time

What if you found yourself here, at the University of Alaska Southeast? The nearby Juneau Icefield is a natural laboratory for these undergraduate environmental science students.

Living My Mountaineering Dream

Outdoor Studies graduate Emma Lyddan tested her guiding skills through a successful summit of Denali and a crossing of the Juneau Icefield. Within months of graduating, Emma started her career in Glacier Grey in Torres del Paine National Park, guiding in Patagonia!

Traversing the Taku Glacier

UAS Associate Professor of Geophysics Jason Amundson and students spent a few days traversing the Taku Glacier while maintaining weather instruments along the way. The glacier, just south of Juneau, has been a focus of study as it advances and excavates the land in its path. Follow along as the team collects data to help understand the phenomenal motion of the ice flowing into the fjord.

Alaska Native Languages and Society

The Program on the Environment degrees include Alaska Native language and studies classes. UAS is at the heart of revitalization for three Alaska Native languages: Tlingit, Haida, and Tsimshian. The learning experience is dynamic and engaging through community activities and historical and linguistic research projects working with Elders and senior faculty.

Students learn about what makes up Alaska Native cultures and organizations — from historical migration patterns and contact with other cultures to modern day tribes, ANCSA corporations, consortia, and civil rights organizations.

For students of Alaska Native ancestry, this is a way to connect with the heritage language of their ancestors. For the non-Native learner, it is a way to connect to the land and people of Southeast Alaska.

Outdoor Studies Students in Japan

Come along with the Outdoor Studies Capstone class while they explore backcountry skiing in Japan's Hakuba region.

Science of Sampling

UAS Associate Professor of Geology Sonia Nagorski researches the pollutant mercury, which is present in Southeast Alaska ecosystems. Undergraduate students assisted Professor Nagorski with the study, hiking along rivers and streams near the UAS campus.

Education for a Career and for Life

Our Outdoor Studies B.L.A., B.A., and certificate programs offer classes to develop students' skills and explore new ways to think about the human relationship to the outdoors.

Experience Alaska in a Whole New Way

You’re ready for something new. New challenges, new places, new adventures. In the classroom or in the natural world, adventure abounds at the University of Alaska Southeast. See Alaska in a whole new way. Explore the possibilities in our learning community, on campus and on-line.

Add Outdoor Studies to Your Environmental Degree

The B.A. in Environmental Studies with an Emphasis in Outdoor Studies adds skills-based courses in areas like mountaineering, backpacking, backcountry skiing, ice climbing, kayaking, and more. Academic courses explore concepts in sport, recreation, and leadership.

Outdoors studies student on the snow

Wade in: The "Icefield to Estuary" Project

In the Icefield to Estuary Project, UAS Associate Professor of Geology Sonia Nagorski collects data to compare the amount of iron in glacial-fed rivers vs. wetland streams as part of the Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research. Iron is an abundant and important ocean nutrient for organisms that make up our diverse Southeast Alaska ecosystem. The study provides a unique opportunity for undergraduates to engage in research in a variety of environments.

Learn and earn degree credits while kayaking in Alaska

Surround yourself in your chosen field of study. UAS offers kayak oceanography and ocean studies classes that provide students with an interdisciplinary experience as a team member of a kayaking expedition, immersing students in the extraordinary natural wilderness of Southeast Alaska. 

Kayak Oceanography

A Wilderness as Vast as Your Curiosity

UAS is absolutely unique; a public university surrounded by the largest national forest in the United States. As a Natural Sciences undergraduate at the University of Alaska Southeast, you’ll do research in the forest, on glaciers and along the coast.

Our Research Partner: The Alaska Coastal Rainforest Center

The ACRC provides interdisciplinary research and training opportunities for undergraduate, graduate, and postdoctoral scholars to learn and work in north Pacific coastal temperate rainforest ecosystems. UAS and the ACRC work together to provide our students and graduates with the experiences and relationships they need to start their scientific careers.

Alaska Coastal Rainforest Center

UAS Science Faculty and Alaska EPSCoR: Funding Research Projects

UAS science faculty actively work with EPSCoR, a nationwide research and education organization administered by the National Science Foundation. At UAS, students work directly with professors specializing in their fields; you’ll get the personal attention and research access needed to launch your science career.

Alaska EPSCoR

Learning Environments

The Juneau Icefield

A few miles from UAS, the Mendenhall, Eagle, Herbert, and Lemon Creek glaciers all provide gateways to the Juneau Icefield — the fifth largest in North America. At the forefront of climate change research, Environmental Science students are making mass balance measurements and studying the impacts of shrinking glaciers on nearby watersheds.

Current projects include examining glacial runoff in a changing climate, multi-decade surface change across the Malaspina Glacier, measuring metabolic rates of groundfish in habitats of differing glacial effluent, and more.

Students also have the opportunity to apply for the Juneau Icefield Research Program, an eight-week annual summer field research expedition that crosses the icefield from Alaska to British Columbia.

Spatial Ecosystem Analysis Lab

UAS hosts the Spatial Ecosystems Analysis Lab (SEALAB), a technical research and educational facility specializing in geospatial analysis. In addition to ecosystem analysis and modeling in Southeast Alaska's glacier-rainforest-coastal complex, SEALAB supports undergraduate students in research and training.

Projects include measuring climate induced shifts in salmon phenology, assessing the sensitivity of Alaska's coastal rainforest ecosystem to changes in glacial runoff, analysis of changes of treeline distribution and productivity, and establishing baseline data of brown bear distribution in rapidly deglaciating landscapes.

Student collecting seaweed

Alaska Coastal Rainforest Center

The Alaska Coastal Rainforest Center focuses on the Pacific coast temperate rainforest, stretching from Oregon to southcentral Alaska. Home to tens of thousands of people who depend on natural resources and tourism, this region is characterized by intricate geology, cultural history, and complex linkages across ecosystems.

The Center builds partnerships and catalyzes ecological, economic, and social research to support vibrant and resilient communities and ecosystems. Projects include ocean acidification monitoring, icefield to ocean ecosystem interactions along the Gulf of Alaska, carbon and nutrient cycling, stream discharge, snow cover, and soil moisture modeling, and yellow-cedar ecology.

Professor collecting sample from stream

Eaglecrest Ski Area

Eaglecrest, Juneau's community ski area, offers 1,400 feet of vertical and 100-600 inches of snowfall per season. Terrain ranges from easy groomers to steep chutes, open bowls, and wooded glades.

In addition to recreation, faculty and students use Eaglecrest to study avalanche dynamics and have developed operational snowpack stability and avalanche forecasting models. The environmental science program maintains a research station at the summit, monitoring weather conditions and providing real-time information on snow conditions for skiers, boarders, and patrollers.

Outdoor studies students takes advantage of the easily accessible backcountry terrain for courses in backcountry skiing and snowboarding, avalanche I and II, and mountaineering.

Weather station in the mountains

"Every semester I've been exposed to a new concept or idea that has fundamentally changed the way I see and interact with the environment around me."

Program Faculty

Jason M. Amundson, Ph.D.

Jason M. Amundson, Ph.D.

Associate Professor of Geophysics

I have a background in glaciology and geophysics. My research focuses on tidewater glaciers and glacier-ocean interactions, and I am especially interested in the ways that glaciers interact with other Earth system components. I teach the introductory physics courses as well as upper division courses in Earth's climate and glaciology.

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Jason B. Fellman, Ph.D.

Jason B. Fellman, Ph.D.

Deputy Director - Alaska Coastal Rainforest Center & Research Assistant Professor of Environmental Science

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John Harley, Ph.D.

John Harley, Ph.D.

Research Assistant Professor - Alaska Coastal Rainforest Center

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Eran Hood, Ph.D.

Eran Hood, Ph.D.

Professor of Environmental Science

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Kevin Krein, Ph.D.

Kevin Krein, Ph.D.

Professor of Philosophy

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Kevin Maier, Ph.D.

Kevin Maier, Ph.D.

Professor of English

While my training is in 19th and 20th century American literature, my interests have always been in the cultural components of environmental concerns, often seen from the angle of sport hunting and fishing. Which is to say: I like to mix my outdoor recreation with hard questions about climate change, equity, and environmental justice.

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Dylan Miller

Dylan Miller

Adjunct Faculty of Outdoor Studies

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Daniel Monteith, Ph.D.

Daniel Monteith, Ph.D.

Associate Professor of Anthropology

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Sonia A. Nagorski, Ph.D.

Sonia A. Nagorski, Ph.D.

Associate Professor of Geology

My background is in environmental geochemistry, and my research has focused primarily on a variety of contaminants in aquatic systems. I teach classes on Earth's geologic history, physical geology, natural hazards, geomorphology, and mineral and energy resources and environmental impacts. At UAS I devote my efforts to training and inspiring undergraduates to work creatively and effectively in the environmental sciences, preparing them for meaningful careers that benefit the Earth and society.

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Sanjay Pyare, Ph.D.

Sanjay Pyare, Ph.D.

Associate Professor of Environmental Science

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Richard F. Simpson, Ph.D.

Richard F. Simpson, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor of Humanities

Literary Theory; Literary Urban Studies; Material Cultures of Education; Nineteenth-Century Labor and Economic Theory; Allegory and the Essay; Cultures of Finance Capital

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Thomas F. Thornton, Ph.D.

Thomas F. Thornton, Ph.D.

Director of Alaska Coastal Rainforest Center & Professor of Environment and Society

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Lance (X̱’unei) A. Twitchell, M.F.A., Ph.D.

Lance (X̱’unei) A. Twitchell, M.F.A., Ph.D.

Associate Professor of Alaska Native Languages

All systems and spaces have space for Indigenous languages, knowledges, arts, and peoples. You can study with us and stand up for Indigenous languages, ways of knowing, and decolonization in revolutionary self-love. Kakḵwa.áaḵw aag̱áa yakḵwadláaḵ: I will try, and I will succeed!

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Lora E. Vess

Lora E. Vess

Associate Professor of Social Sciences

Environmental sociology and environmental justice, food studies, social inequality, social movements, scholarship of teaching and learning, sociology of health and medicine

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Forest J. Wagner, M.A.

Forest J. Wagner, M.A.

Assistant Professor of Outdoor Studies, Humanities Department Chair

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Glenn D. Wright

Glenn D. Wright

Associate Professor of Political Science, USUAS-JC Advisor

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