Faculty members have a long history of promoting the interdisciplinary study of environmental issues on the Rhodes campus, beginning in 1989 when Rhodes first offered an Earth Systems Science minor. In 2000, a grant from the Associated Colleges of the South (ACS) Environmental Studies Initiative funded the creation of a new course (“Frontiers of the Environment and Culture”) team-taught by faculty in geology, history, and anthropology. Rhodes faculty participated actively in curriculum planning programming sponsored by the ACS and consulted with peer institutions to develop plans for an Environmental Sciences program. Initiated in 2005, the interdisciplinary Environmental Sciences minor, which includes math, geology, chemistry, and biology, immediately attracted students.

In 2008, Rhodes College received a major grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to launch the Environmental Studies program at Rhodes as a complement to Environmental Sciences. The Mellon grant funded 3 postdoctoral positions which were awarded to the departments of History, Anthropology/Sociology, and International Studies. New courses in these fields have added depth and breadth to the College’s curriculum and have contributed to strengths in interdisciplinary learning that cross traditional departmental boundaries.