For the past two years, I have been enrolled in the Environmental Studies program at CMU, and it has been an exciting time in my education.
My first year started with general biology courses designed to cover as much information as possible. These courses opened a window into the fascinating world of life. From cells to basic body structure, we learned the complex inner workings that make up all living things, and how closely all life is interconnected. I was introduced to a world with many similarities between living things, that is still astoundingly diverse.
As my studies become more focused on particular subjects, the learning becomes more difficult, and more intriguing. The world that I was introduced to in first year biology has become more complex, and the continuity between classes is fascinating. Each class seems to complement the other. Learning about genes and how they are handed down in one class, blends into another on how diversity within a species is possible. As the classes become more focused, topics begin to fit together more clearly.
All this is enhanced by the work that is done in the lab. Classroom learning suddenly becomes real, as we are able to observe the characteristics of different plant, animal, and bacteria species right before our eyes. The lines between the textbook and the lab became blurred. Both are learning environments in their own right, but together they enhance my understanding experience. Each setting offers new insights into an ever expanding area of study, and it probably helps that the professors in the classroom also teach in the lab.
Maybe more helpful than the classroom learning and the time spent in the lab, is the time spent in the field. Classes are encouraged to go out and experience the nature that we are learning about. We are constantly encouraged to learn within the natural spaces around us. The Assiniboine Forest offers a unique space to learn and observe. This opportunity makes lessons and experiments tangible.
Unique to CMU are the integrative classes that teach about the Bible and the natural world, in which students can explore the environment from a theological and ethical perspective. We learn how people ought to live with creation and learn the beauty of it through both science and theology.
Every aspect of my education at CMU is connected to a larger whole. It’s less a collection of pieces of knowledge, but the formation of a whole, giving me a glimpse at the bigger picture of creation. Each course offers a unique exploration of a subject within environmental studies, and at the same time, they all are closely interconnected. The labs and diverse classes have helped me build my own knowledge of the environment, and I plan to take it forward with me as I continue learning.
Graham Peters is a third year Environmental Studies student from Winnipeg, Manitoba.