Director’s Welcome

Welcome to UW’s interdisciplinary Program on the Environment (PoE)! In our vibrantly collaborative community, students, scholars and scientists work to bridge thought and action in order to preserve and sustain the amazing planet that we inhabit. Together we study how societies can enhance environmental health and well-being by fostering behavioral change and bringing innovative approaches and technologies to bear in addressing environmental challenges. We do this by rigorously linking perspectives, methods and contributors from the natural sciences and social sciences, as well as from the humanities and arts.

Although I have been at the University of Washington for thirty-five years, I am new to PoE. My own background embraces both social sciences and humanities, and I am inspired by how the program’s integrative energies bring people together to envisage and create an equitable and sustainable future for all.

I bring with me a deep commitment to sustaining PoE’s standard of educational excellence. Our program has long been known for having outstanding teaching faculty, committed staff and passionate students—indicated by the fact that forty percent of our core faculty have won UW teaching awards. I am dedicated to expanding the program’s work to promote environmental literacy, creating connections across our entire campus and reaching into our K-12 and university systems, and out to public audiences.

Few programs at UW branch out more widely than the Program on the Environment. Although we are housed within the College of the Environment, we work broadly with many units and departments across the entire campus. Our collaborative, integrative approach allows us to offer a flexible course of study. Each student can design an educational trajectory that meets their needs and interests, culminating in a self-devised year-long capstone project.

Our location in the heart of a natural laboratory in the Pacific Northwest provides a unique and diverse setting in which to study the environment. Students interested in everything from food systems to urban development, climate change to waste disposal, ecosystem restoration to sustainability, can move in minutes from class conversations to relevant field experiences.

Demand for well-trained professionals who can help solve challenging environmental issues has never been more acute. Our undergraduate degree program has a rich history of producing leaders who bring about positive change. If you are passionate about making our planet safer, fairer and more resilient, then the Bachelor of Arts in Environmental Studies may be right for you. Browse our website, give us a call, or better yet, stop by and meet us in Wallace Hall!

Gary Handwerk
Bruce J. Leven Professor of Environmental Studies, Comparative Literature and Comparative History of Ideas
Director, Program on the Environment