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Humans and the Global Environment

Administrative Unit:Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies
College/School: Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies
Minors and Certificates:Doctoral Minor, Graduate/Professional Certificate


Problems of global environmental sustainability and vulnerability have many interconnected components. To become effective agents of environmental progress, professionals and academics working on these issues must be able to communicate across disciplinary boundaries. The Certificate on Humans and the Global Environment (CHANGE) provides interdisciplinary training that helps students truly integrate humanistic, natural science, and social science perspectives on environmental sustainability. The CHANGE program recognizes that meaningful interdisciplinary collaboration does not happen simply because students have been exposed to multiple perspectives. It is a skill that must be learned and practiced.

The Nelson Institute offers the CHANGE program to aid in teaching graduate students to understand complex environmental issues. To accomplish this goal CHANGE involves faculty members from programs such as atmospheric and oceanic sciences, sociology, history of science, geography, environmental studies, and population health.

CHANGE welcomes applications from students in any graduate degree program at UW–Madison. The program does not have course prerequisites, but prospective students should note it is a cohort-based certificate. Therefore, class size is limited and admission is competitive. The certificate consists of a three-semester curriculum that prepares graduate students to work effectively in interdisciplinary environmental research settings. The CHANGE course sequence is completed in three consecutive semesters.

The unique five-course, 12-credit CHANGE curriculum trains students in professional communication and knowledge-management skills while exposing them to cutting-edge understandings of how human and non-human environmental systems operate. The cohort-based CHANGE training concludes with an interdisciplinary capstone course in which students join together in teams to address a real-world environmental problem for a private sector, government, or academic client. CHANGE is not available as a stand-alone graduate degree. Master's and doctoral students who complete the requirements receive a certificate in CHANGE to supplement their graduate degree, or doctoral students can instead complete the program as an external minor. Doctoral students cannot claim CHANGE as both a certificate and an external minor. They must choose one or the other.

For more information: Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies, Academic Programs Office, 70 Science Hall, 550 N Park St, Madison WI 53706-1491; 608-262-7996; fax 608-262-2273; grad@nelson.wisc.edu; nelson.wisc.edu/graduate/change/index.php