HERO Image

Experiential Learning

From the Field to the Laboratory

Environmental science is a hands-on field, and Valpo’s program emphasizes practical experience. Students use the environment as their classroom, and learn about landform processes visiting regional locations for observing and sampling field information. Through coursework, student organizations, and the required capstone experiences, students develop their confidence and their ability to take action in the world.

Under the Sun

The environmental science curriculum develops the essential skills for field research as well as environmental management. Build skills in Identifying plants, insects and other life forms, reading dichotomous key, ecological sampling, biomonitoring aquatic and terrestrial habitats, geospatial data collection, mapping the landscape, soil sampling and more.

To develop these skills, faculty coordinate frequent field trips to some of the region’s finest natural areas. Students regularly conduct volunteer research at these sites, allowing them to apply their skills to real-life issues in environmental management.

play-button

Study Abroad

Students may take advantage of Valpo’s 25 Study Abroad programs in countries including Costa Rica, Mexico, England, Spain, France, Germany, Greece, Namibia, China, and Japan, as well as off-campus programs in New York, Chicago, and Washington, D.C.

The rich semester long program in Costa Rica offers Environmental Science majors the opportunity to experience environmental learning activities specific to the field.

Additional opportunities include focused experiential learning opportunities that can be focused on environmental topics. Internships are part of 12 of the semester and year-long programs. Most programs also include a service-learning component.

play-button

Student Organizations

Student members of Earthtones learn how to be environmentally active within their community. The club’s members promote a variety of environmentally-friendly activities on Valparaiso University’s campus, including recycling and composting, and also provide service to the Northwest Indiana community.

In addition, many environmental science majors join the Biology Club, which sponsors regular opportunities for hands-on stream habitat restoration.

Many Environmental Science students also earn membership in Gamma Theta Upsilon, the International Geography Honor Society through their superior scholarship and coursework in geography as a part of their Environmental Science major.

Capstone Experiences

The skills that environmental science majors develop — from ecological awareness to laboratory techniques — are valuable in a variety of careers. The degree’s capstone experience allows every student to apply those skills in real-world situations either through research or an internship.

With department approval, students earn academic credit for relevant internships, either during the academic year or over the summer months. These experiences allow students to synthesize the knowledge they have learned while applying it to novel situations.

Additional information about these courses is available in the Valparaiso University Catalog and from the chair of the environmental science administrative committee.


When I tell students that the data we collect is useful to the park management, the project is suddenly more engaging. They feel they are contributing, and that allows them to learn the material better.

Laurie Eberhardt, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Biology