Beyond the Classroom

Orange flower close-up

Students in the Environmental Studies program will spend many hours outside of the classroom, gaining real-world, hands-on experience through research, internships, studying abroad, and more.


Students at UE can design their own course and lead other students to create a positive impact in the community. One semester, an Environmental Science student developed a project-based class that connected more than 300 people in the Evansville community to native milkweed plants for monarch butterflies. The ChangeLab gave them a deeper perspective regarding the value of growing native plants.

Another ecologically-minded student used her research experience with plants and pollinators to develop an outreach program to educate people in the Evansville community, reinforcing the value of growing natives, but focusing on the benefits of native plants for pollinators. These experiences help direct student leaders in their future career paths.


This course offers research experiences, exploration of current scientific research publications, and exploration of career opportunities, all embedded within field trips across the natural habitats in the Midwest. The course often culminates with a weekend camping trip to sites like Turkey Run State Park and/or Land between the Lakes. In addition to building a sense of community among Environmental Science majors, courses like Ecology give students a multitude of real-world experiences.

Plant Diversity

This course provides students with the tools and skills needed to identify and classify local flowering plants in the field and from herbarium specimens. Students gain hands-on experience at field sites that include Wesselman Woods Nature Preserve, Howell Wetlands, Audubon Nature Preserve, and Eagle Slough. There, they experience the diversity of plants native to Southwestern Indiana.

Tropical Ecology of Costa Rica

After a semester spent discussing ecology and organismal diversity, students travel to Costa Rica for two weeks. One field site visited in Costa Rica, Reserva Ecologica Bijagual Sarapiqui, has a four-acre tree restoration project that was established by an Environmental Studies honors student in 2009. In addition to restoring this tropical forest patch, the restoration effort provides the opportunity for this field course to use the forest to carry out tropical ecological research.


As a student of UE, you can spend a semester or summer abroad at Harlaxton. Many students take advantage of this once in a lifetime opportunity and gain a richer, broader understanding of the world by doing so.

Harlaxton is located just outside of Grantham, England, in the rolling English countryside. Students are encouraged to travel on weekends to take advantage of the culture, history, and sights of England. Weekend field trips are arranged to various locations, but students can also visit other European countries while overseas.

Overseas at Harlaxton, the Environmental Studies program has an established garden of native English plants as well as an herbarium. Students are given a novel context for understanding biological diversity of Europe while at the Manor. Those in the program may also choose an internship opportunity through Harlaxton.