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As a liberal arts college, Swarthmore's commitment to sustainability is most effectively met through its educational mission. Students address challenges facing the environment through course work, study abroad programs, opportunities for environmental studies research, internships, and community engagement opportunities.

Environmental Studies Program

The Environmental Studies program offers numerous opportunities for rigorous interdisciplinary work by addressing the scientific, engineering, social, political, economic, literary, and philosophical dimensions of environmental issues. The program aims to bring students and faculty together to explore the interactions among earth systems, human societies, and local and global environments. See the program's list of courses offered each semester.


Environmental sustainability research at Swarthmore has a direct impact. Through the President’s Sustainability Research Fellowship (PSRF) [LINK], students learn by taking stewardship over vital sustainability challenges. The program matches small teams of advanced students with staff and faculty mentors to research, develop, and implement projects in a year-long course and associated internship.

Beyond the PSRF program, students have a variety of other opportunities to gain hands-on experience implementing sustainability projects. Each year the Environmental Studies program awards the James H. Scheuer Environmental Internship to the winning applicant whose proposal embraces environmental concerns. Additionally, the Career Services Office maintains internship resources related to the environment and will help interested students find internships and externships related to environmental topics.  


From studying plants' response to elevated temperatures and the effect this has on crop yields (explore Professor Nick Kaplinsky's lab page) to identifying issues of social and economic (in)equity (listen to a lecture by Professor Giovanna Di Chiro), sustainability research at Swarthmore involves a broad spectrum of projects oriented to the relationships between human practices and the natural environment.

Study Abroad

Swarthmore College sponsors environmental study abroad programs in Cape Town, South Africa and Central Europe (Krakow, Poland and Brno, Czech Republic). Head over to Off-Campus Study for more information!

Writing Nature

View the course blog from Writing Nature: Digital Storytelling, taught by Professor of English literature Betsy Bolton. The course uses the Crum woods as a laboratory setting for the production of multimedia poems and brief memoirs. Students spend time grappling with some of the stories inherent in the Crum woods ecosystem as well as the multifaceted story of our relationship to the woods.