Mellon Foundation awards $316,000 for Environmental Studies

MOUNT VERNON – The Environmental Studies Program at Cornell College has been awarded a $316,000 grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to enhance curriculum and further interdisciplinary study.

envstuwilderness2The funds will be used to enhance integration of existing courses, develop field courses in Latin America, help introduce new courses, and to create a capstone course for environmental studies majors. In the past year environmental studies has received nearly $1 million in gifts and grants from donors such as the Cornell College Class of 1958 and the Margaret A. Cargill foundation.

“Environmental Studies emphasizes the links between fields of study.  Geologists, biologists, and chemists need to understand how intertwined political and economic forces are with science, just as policy makers need to appreciate the complexities of the systems on which environmental policy is built,” said geology professor Rhawn Denniston. “This generous grant from the Mellon Foundation will go a long way toward advancing our ability to help our majors make these connections.”

Environmental studies is a rapidly-growing interdisciplinary program founded at Cornell by geology professor and alumnus Herb Hendriks. The program was one of the first in the nation when it was formed in 1975. Environmental studies stresses sustainability across multiple disciplines-from politics to geology to English to biology.

“Environmental studies at Cornell is a program with extraordinary potential. It typifies what a liberal arts education should look like,” said Cornell College President Les Garner. “We are grateful for the generosity of the Mellon Foundation and for the Foundation’s recognition of the excellence of Cornell’s environmental studies program.”

The Mellon Foundation grant is part of Cornell College’s comprehensive campaign Extraordinary Opportunities: The Campaign for Cornell College which will continue through December 2009. The campaign will enhance the Cornell experience by increasing the college’s endowment, upgrading its facilities, and enhancing the academic program.

For more information about the campaign or making a gift, visit or contact Peter Wilch, Vice President for Alumni and College Advancement at 319-895-4315 or