BA in Environmental and Sustainability Studies (CHSS)

This degree provides students with theoretical and practical knowledge of three aspects of environmental and sustainability studies: people, prosperity, and planet.

Natsuki Watanabe, 2023

Natsuki Watanabe

Did you have a favorite class or professor? 

One of my most influential classes was EVPP 322: Business and Sustainability with Dr. Unruh. After taking this class, I decided to concentrate in Business and Sustainability, as I really enjoyed learning about the relevance of sustainability in business for achieving sustainable development. INTS 210: Sustainable World was also impactful for me, as watching a PBS documentary called “Plastic Wars” in this class sparked my interest in researching the efficacy of our current recycling system for plastics. Dr. Dann has been an extremely influential mentor during the past two years, as he helped me take my interests into action by supporting my independent study and encouraging publication of an article we co-authored (which was an extension of the final paper I produced during the independent study).   

What is your most memorable moment at Mason? 

My most memorable moment at Mason was pursuing an independent study (under EVPP 395) titled “A Circular Economy for O‘ahu’s Management of Single-Use Plastics” with Dr. Dann in Spring 2022. During this semester, I not only was able to extensively learn about a topic I was most interested in (plastics circularity), but this experience also helped me realize that I want to pursue a career in advancing this field. Through this independent study, I also had the opportunity to present my research poster at the CHSS Undergraduate Research Symposium and at the OSCAR Celebration of Student Scholarship and Impact.  

What is your next step? What are your future plans?  

I will be pursuing a master’s degree in Sustainability/Environmental Management in the Fall. I look forward to gaining relevant skills such as life cycle analysis and cost-benefit analysis to help make progress with companies/organizations that are advancing plastics circularity.   

As you are reflecting on your time at Mason, what is one piece of advice you would give a student who is just starting off on their Mason journey? 

If there is a specific topic you are interested in learning, but the topic is not offered at Mason/Undergraduate level, consider creating your own course through an independent study! I initially had an impression that independent studies were heavily research-based, but what I now realize is that if you are interested in learning something, you most likely already have a reason to do an independent study! Reaching out to a professor(s) about your academic/career interests can open pivotal opportunities for you.