Mission and Objectives
The mission of the Outdoor Laboratory takes its direction from the mission of Westminster College. The Outdoor Laboratory for Biological and Environmental Sciences comprises three facilities: the Field Station, Brittain Lake, and the College Woods. Together and separately they support and augment the philosophy and purposes of Westminster College. Westminster’s quest for excellence is a recognition that stewardship of life mandates the maximum possible development of each person’s capabilities. The Outdoor Laboratory thus realizes its mission in men and women who:
- develop intellectual curiosity and the competencies to reason logically and evaluate critically;
- acquire a knowledge and appreciation of the natural world;
- develop and demonstrate moral and ethical commitments to society, and the natural world;
- commit themselves to lifelong learning and responsible service as world citizens.
The Outdoor Laboratory endeavors to fulfill its mission through curricular, co-curricular, and community learning programs.
Biology and environmental science curricula are directly enhanced by this facility but, in actuality, every segment of Westminster College’s curriculum has the potential of benefiting from short and longer term involvement. Summer teaching and study workshops are encouraged.
Student and faculty investigations are integral to the mission of the Field Station. Some of these research ventures are short-term, others are long-term.
Community service and environmental awareness
As a rural college, Westminster College has both opportunity and obligation to extend an invitation to local/regional schools, service clubs, and organizations to work and to learn about ecology and environmental science. Programs of “teaching by doing” have potential for enhancing the lives of friends of the College as well as contributing to the facility.
- To increase knowledge about biology and environmental science by engaging the academic community in critical thinking and creative scholarship.
- To promote collaborative learning among faculty and students in biology, environmental science, and other disciplines.
- To provide students with a foundation of knowledge that prepares them for further study and active participation in biological and environmental professions;
- To foster students' critical-thinking, observational, and investigational skills and to involve students in the use of investigational methods to develop and evaluate ecological concepts and theories.
- To promote understanding of the stewardship of resources through the application of the scientific method and to provide students with an understanding of organisms and ecosystems sufficient to insure informed participation in society;
- Develop within students an appreciation of life, including an understanding of a conservation ethic and a feeling of responsibility toward living things.
- To develop long-term projects that can be incorporated into curricula and research at the College.
Scholarship and Research Objectives
- To foster initiative and independence in scientific inquiry and to promote original scholarship and research by Westminster College faculty and students.
- To encourage interdisciplinary scholarship and research and to promote collaborative studies with individuals from private businesses, government organizations, and other academic departments and institutions.
- To secure intramural and extramural funding in support of original scholarship and research.
- To disseminate the results of student and faculty scholarship and research in appropriate media, including conferences and peer-reviewed literature.
- To lead in shaping a reflective ecological literacy in the constituency of the College and in the general public.
- To share our individual and collective professional expertise with the constituency of the College and the general public through seminars, workshops, and informal education in the community
- To support biological and environmental education in local and regional primary and secondary schools.