Environmental Studies Program History

History of the Program

In 2002, Paul Harcombe, a professor in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, and Walter Isle, an English professor, created and oversaw the first course listings in Environmental Studies (ENST) at Rice in their roles as co-founders of the Center for the Study of Environment and Society (CSES). From its inception, CSES reported to the Provost’s Office, which enabled a truly interdisciplinary approach to the ENST course listing.

Over subsequent years, the ENST course offerings grew to include: (1) Courses funded directly by CSES, usually taught by adjunct lecturers; (2) Courses taught by Rice faculty or staff explicitly for ENST; and (3) Cross-listed courses originating from other departments and tagged with the ENST designation to draw the attention of students with environmental interests.

During the summer of 2014, CSES merged into Rice’s new Center for Energy and Environmental Research in the Human Sciences (CENHS), the first research center founded within Rice’s cross-campus Energy and Environment Initiative (EEI). With the merger, CENHS inherited oversight over the ENST course listings.

A proposal to create a minor in ENST was approved by the Faculty Senate in the spring of 2015. The minor is overseen by the ENST Faculty Advisory Board.

Program Governance

  • The director and minor advisor of the program is Dr. Dominic Boyer. The co-director of the program is Richard R. Johnson. The Faculty Advisory Board is made up of Jim Blackburn, Dominic Boyer, Richard R. Johnson, Dr. Jeffrey Kripal, Dr. Julia Morgan, Dr. Timothy Morton, Albert Pope, and Dr. Evan Siemann.
  • The program also has an undergraduate student coordinator, a role currently held by Allison Yelvington.