Dr. James J. Minesky
Associate Professor of Biology & Health Sciences
PhD, University of Tennessee
MS, Saint Louis University
BS, Penn State University
Since joining the Lourdes Community last fall, Dr. Minesky has truly invigorated the Environmental Science program. Recently he designed and launched a new course – Biology Topics 299 Campus Sustainability.
"It's largely project based," explains Dr. Minesky. "The goal is to examine how various colleges are approaching sustainability on their campuses and to then challenge our students to create a plan for Lourdes."
He is also working with faculty in the department to slightly revamp the program. "We already offer two degree options: a Bachelor of Arts (BA) and a Bachelor of Science (BS). However, we'd like to create a greater distinction between the two.
"In revising the program, the BS will be geared for students primarily interested in the natural sciences (biology, chemistry, physics) and ecology and the BA will be for those who prefer the political and social sciences side."
"Obviously, our main goal is to continue to grow Environmental Science at Lourdes," he notes. "We are working on partnering more closely with other departments such as History, Political Science & Geography, in order to promote dual majors or a major and minor for students interested in the field. Doing so will give our students a competitive edge and advantage, as they graduate with a greater knowledge base."
Dr. Minesky is developing a new curriculum for the major as well, including several Environmental policy courses and a Biology Topics 499 Wildlife Policy & Gray Wolves course, which is slated to launch in the coming academic year.
"With Lourdes' Franciscan heritage and mascot in mind, I thought a course on gray wolves would be great for our students," he adds.
Asked about his passion for biology and the environment, he shares that he grew up in an area composed of small industrial towns and rural communities about an hour northeast of Pittsburgh. "As a child, I spent a great deal of time outdoors, exploring the local woods and fishing with my father, grandfather, brother and uncle.
"Sadly, there was one river near my house that was so polluted by acid mine drainage, that not a single fish could be found living in it. No one interacted with this river – it was essentially dead."
In 2007, he returned home to find people were fishing and enjoying activities such as canoeing and kayaking along the river once again. "It was thrilling to see this river that had been destitute for more than 70 years come back to life," reveals Dr. Minesky. "It really makes you stop and think about the resilience of Mother Nature and also shows that environmental policies like the Clean Water Act do work."
Dr. Minesky closes by saying, "When people ask me about my passion for Environmental Science, I share the story of the river – and I tell them, 'If you're interested in helping others, but maybe don't want to go into the medical field,' then Environmental Science is for you – it's healthcare for the world!"