On The Trinity Perspective, you will find those answers—or at least someone who asked the same questions. We have been in your shoes. The Trinity Perspective collects advice and stories from current students, parents, faculty, and alumni to share with you—prospective students, families, and the Trinity community.

By Alex Holler
Alex Holler '17
Environmentalist & Peer Tutor

One easy thing to forget, not just in the Trinity bubble, but in the civilization bubble, is that everything we use comes from our environment. From the breaths we take to the water we drink to the metals in whatever device you’re reading this on, everything we use, we get from the earth—so we’d better know how to maintain it. You care about eating, breathing, and having cool stuff like computers and medicine, right? Then here’s why you want to major in Environmental studies.

1. These are the voyages of the starship Earth.

Earth is our spaceship. It’s big, it’s beautiful, and it has a limited supply of everything we might need. We’re all hurtling through an infinite, uninhabitable void on it (and taking all known life in the universe along for the ride, so if we crash and burn, that’s it. No pressure!)

Everyone knows that in a spaceship, you have to be smart, efficient, and careful with your resources, because you only have a limited supply. Anything you use, you use it in such a way that it can be used again. This is sustainability, or the ability to meet the needs of the present without compromising anyone’s ability to meet those needs in the future.

2. So why do we treat Earth like it’ll never run out…of anything? 

Instead of treating Earth like the spaceship it is, we’re treating it like an endless frontier: someplace we can gather up all the valuable resources (and pollute in the process) to meet our needs now, without really considering the long-term effects on our—and our planet’s—future. We’re even planning to treat space itself that way one day, as a place of endless resources for our collection and consumption—that is, if we can find someplace livable to do that on.

But how viable is that strategy? Is it really smart to be treating our only spaceship and home planet—the only planet known to support life—like it’s just a single resource stop we can strip for valuables and then leave behind in our intergalactic quest for more? Environmental studies majors learn to challenge these cultural assumptions and practices, and critically think about our alternatives.

3. As any good economist will tell you, the free market can’t handle everything.

As much as we’d love for the invisible hands of supply and demand to take complete care of us, we found out the hard way that when we leave them to their own devices, they’re really bad at providing some key things—like clean air and water, for example. So we have to take matters into our own hands.

But how? Do we need a revolution, or can we stick with the system we have? Would privatizing our natural resources work, or how about taxing pollution? Environmental studies majors tackle these questions head-on, exploring not only how solutions could work in theory, but also why they don’t yet work in practice—and how we can change that.

Remember you? Living, eating, breathing you? You have a lot at stake here. So come major in Environmental Studies, and help us figure out how to keep our fantastic spaceship in tip-top working shape for you, your family, and life as we know it.

Learn more about environmental studies at Trinity University here

About Alex

Alex Holler is a junior at Trinity University who plans to double major in environmental policy and Spanish. She has served as a peer tutor for three semesters during her time at Trinity: twice for HUMA and once for Science Fiction and the Environment. When home from college, she lives in Houston, TX with her parents, younger sister, and two cats.
By Meagan Coffer
Meagan Coffer '16
Chemist & Community Volunteer

Every so often, whilst working away on various assignments in one of the computer rooms at Trinity University's Center for Sciences and Innovation, I glance at my cell phone’s display. (I would usually lose track of time otherwise). And when the pixelated font on the screen would finally read “Thursday, 5:00 pm,” I dutifully packed up my things. To go to dinner? A study break? Exercise? Not quite—I would instead be walking towards CSI 448, for the monthly American Chemical Society (ACS) Student Chapter organization meeting—or the Trinity Chemistry Club, as it is more commonly known.

The meetings are always jam-packed with activities, led by President Natalie Seitzman '16. But when I open the door to the lecture room, I am never quite certain just what to expect. Just as the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle limits our ability to precisely know a particle’s physical properties at the same time, I am always unable to predict all the “whats, hows, whys, and etc.” of any given meeting.

Chemistry Club is always a good time. 
Yet it is always a welcome break to the weekly stresses imposed by classes. Snacks, drinks, and (if we’re fortunate) pizza are laid upon the table nearest to the whiteboard. I grab what I can amidst the hustle and bustle and head for an open seat, while Natalie gives an amicable welcome and outlines the current objectives—whether it be planning for the famous Mole Day (held every year on October 23rd, in accordance with Avogadro’s number), Scientist’s Day, or something else, the club is always busy organizing and planning events.

Chemistry club president Natalie Seitzman prepares a Mole Day presentation.
I occasionally participate in this effort, as well—as an officer in charge of organizing outreach activities for chemistry club, I have had some amazing opportunities to become involved in the greater San Antonio community. 

Some of my favorite experiences have been opportunities to help at the Children’s Museum (now known as the Doseum, located on Broadway Street). From “Spooky Science” oozing pumpkins in the fall to liquid nitrogen ice cream on a hot day, it has been a lot of fun brainstorming ideas for creative demos. And it is made all the better by the fact that they all demonstrate important concepts about chemistry that make learning about science more creative and interactive; it is education that goes beyond the usual classroom environment, which isn’t always an easy thing to do. If not for my upcoming graduation this spring, this experience is something I would be willing to do again and again and again—because when you pop a soap bubble filled with cloudy carbon dioxide gas and watch the surprised expression evolving on a kid’s face, you realize that there is actually a certain truth to all the colloquial talk of “making a difference” and “inspiring future generations,” because you are there, you are doing it yourself. It’s simply amazing—both this, and studying chemistry.

Learn more about chemistry at Trinity University here

Educating the next generation of chemists. 
About Meagan
Meagan Coffer is a senior studying chemistry at Trinity University. Originally from Fort Worth, Texas, she plans to graduate in Spring of 2016. She plans to attend graduate school for Chemistry in the coming Fall.