Human Dimensions of Environmental Systems (HDES) is an interdisciplinary program comprised of faculty from six colleges and graduate students from every college on campus. We are united in the study of the connections between humans and their environments. We consider all dimensions of both, and we allow that we influence our environments and that environments affect us. We are built on the premise that the best insights are not limited to the domain of a single discipline, and thus we are highly interdisciplinary in all things we undertake.
Our primary effort is that of graduate education and research. We encourage and support a broad range of courses, seminars and research for graduate students and faculty interested in the junction of human behaviors and the environment. We offer courses for graduate and undergraduate students which
We sponsor occasional public seminars that are open to all. In the public seminar the faculty, students, and invited speakers present their in-progress work on the interrelations of people and their environment. We emphasize that the work should be in progress as we want the students to learn about not just the findings but about the interdisciplinary research process itself. We also want to expose our speakers to input from an interdisciplinary audience. The most frequent feedback we receive from speakers is about how helpful the input from HDES has been in their research effort. The public seminars are open to all, and speakers have included HDES students, faculty from campus, other universities, public officials, practitioners, environmental experts, and citizens with a relevant interest or expertise.
We sponsor small group workshops. In the small group workshops the students work on their own research (typically their master's or doctoral research) in interdisciplinary groups consisting of four to five students all focused on a common research topic or method but from different departments and colleges. A faculty member also works with each small group.
Why is HDES Unique?
HDES received support from the Colleges of ACES, AHS, FAA, and LAS, and from the Departments of Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences and Recreation Sport and Tourism. Over 90% of the funds committed to HDES are used to support students through academic year fellowships, summer travel and research support, and conference travel support for graduate students.
HDES offers the only locus on campus for faculty and students interested in the interdisciplinary study of people and their environments. We offer a way for faculty to discover and contact one another, and we offer support to graduate students doing such research. All faculty volunteer their time and services. Faculty teaching HDES 595 and 598 and serving in administrative roles receive neither compensation nor release time for their effort. This demonstrates the high level of commitment by faculty to HDES. Professor Nancy Cantor, while Chancellor of the university, noted that HDES was the single most effective use of university money; having almost no overhead costs, HDES uses 95 cents of each dollar received to support graduate education.