Environmental Studies

  • Richard Wallace by RJ Walter

Richard L. Wallace

Richard L. Wallace is professor of environmental studies, marine science, and food studies at Ursinus College, and co-director of the college’s Robert and Shurley Knaefler Whittaker Environmental Research Station. He arrived at Ursinus in 2002 as founding chair of the Department of Environmental Studies, where he helped develop the undergraduate program on a foundation of reflective practice steeped in the theory and methods of integrative problem solving. He teaches courses on land stewardship, biodiversity conservation, food and agriculture, and the theory and practice of integrative problem solving. 

Wallace received his B.A. from the University of Vermont and a master’s and Ph.D. from Yale University; all three degrees are in interdisciplinary environmental studies. His research is focused in two areas: integrative problem solving in the conservation of species and ecosystems and the history and prospects of interdisciplinary environmental studies in American higher education. His current work is in three areas. In association with the Northern Rockies Conservation Cooperative, Wallace is working on a multi-year effort to assess educational programs in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem (GYE) and develop broadly integrative, problem oriented curricula for multiple audiences in the GYE. As well, for the Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative, Wallace recently completed a project synthesizing lessons from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill disaster into recommendations for stronger regulation of offshore oil and gas development; the results have been published in the journal BioScience. Finally, for the past decade, Wallace has been writing and publishing about the challenges of teaching and learning interdisciplinary environmental studies in American higher education. His work on education and in the GYE is conducted with his research partner, Dr. Susan Clark of Yale University.

Wallace’s published work has appeared in numerous books and journals and he has been recognized with national and organizational awards for his teaching, research, and applied work. In 2014, he was named Pennsylvania Professor of the Year by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education. At Ursinus College, in 2012 he received the H. Lloyd Jones Jr. Award for Excellence in Mentoring and Advising and, in 2007, the Lindback Foundation Award for Distinguished Teaching. Wallace is a former staff member of the U.S. Marine Mammal Commission, where he analyzed species and habitat conservation programs and received both the Federal Service Award and Federal Performance Award. In 2003 he was the sole author of a paper on marine mammal conservation in the journal Conservation Biology that received the Society of Policy Scientists’ Harold Lasswell Award for best interdisciplinary analysis of the year. While a doctoral student at Yale, Wallace received two prestigious national awards, the Morris K. Udall Fellowship and the Teresa and H. John Heinz Scholarship. 

Wallace currently sits on the board of directors of the Northern Rockies Conservation Cooperative, which he also serves as Educator-in-Residence. He is a co-founder of the Society of Policy Scientists, a founding member of the editorial board of the Journal of Environmental Studies and Sciences, a former associate editor of the journal Policy Sciences, and a current member of the editorial board of the journal Case Studies in the Environment


Environmental Studies


  • Ph.D., Environmental Studies, Yale University
  • Master of Environmental Studies, Yale University
  • B.A., Environmental Studies, University of Vermont


Introductory courses
  • ENV 100, Introduction to Environmental Studies
  • ENV 216, Introduction to Food and Society
  • ENV-238, Introduction to Natural Resource Policy and Law
Interdisciplinary “synthesis” courses
  • ENV 272, Marine Mammal Conservation and Management
  • ENV 340, Community and Sustainable Food Systems
  • ENV 360, Conserving Biological Diversity
Upper-Level Seminars
  • ENV 430W, Advanced Critical Thinking in Environmental Studies
  • ENV 452W, The Land Ethic and Applied Conservation (ENV Capstone)

Recent Work

Wallace, R.L., J. Greenburg*, & S.G. Clark. 2020. Confronting anxiety and existential despair in environmental studies and sciences: A guide for students and faculty. Journal of Environmental Studies and Sciences. 10: 148-155. 

Wallace, R.L., S. Gilbert, & J.E. Reynolds, III. 2019. Improving the integration of restoration and conservation in marine and coastal ecosystems: Lessons from the Deepwater Horizon disaster. BioScience 69(11): 920-927.

Clark, S.G. & R.L. Wallace. 2018. The integrity problem in higher education:
Description, consequences, and recommendations. Higher Education Review 50(2): 126-151.

Wallace, R.L. & S.G., Clark. 2018. Environmental studies and sciences in a time of chaos: problems, contexts, and recommendations. Journal of Environmental Studies and Sciences 8(1): 110-113.

Wallace, R.L. & S.G. Clark. 2017. Barriers to interdisciplinarity in environmental studies: A case of alarming trends in faculty and programmatic wellbeing. Issues in Interdisciplinary Studies 35: 221-247.

Clark, S.G., F. Palis, G.W. Trompf, T.M. Terway, and R.L. Wallace. 2017. Interdisciplinary problem framing for sustainability: Challenges, a framework, case studies. Journal of Sustainable Forestry 36(5): 516-534.

Proctor, J.D., J. Bernstein, & R.L. Wallace. 2015. Unsettling the ESS curriculum: Introduction to a special section on environmental studies curricula. Journal of Environmental Studies and Sciences 5(2): 195-199.

Clark, S.G. and R.L. Wallace. 2015. Integration and interdisciplinarity: concepts, frameworks, and education. Policy Sciences 48(2): 233-255.

Wallace, R.L. and S.G. Clark. 2014. Convergent evolution in the interests of integrative problem-solving: connecting the policy sciences and interdisciplinary studies. Issues in Interdisciplinary Studies 32: 134-169.

Proctor, J.D., S.G. Clark, K.K. Smith, and R.L. Wallace. 2013. A manifesto for theory in environmental studies and sciences. Journal of Environmental Studies and Sciences 3:331–337.

Clark, S.G. and R.L. Wallace. 2012. Interdisciplinary environmental leadership: learning and teaching integrated problem solving. In D.R. Gallagher, N. Christensen, and R.N.L Andrews, eds. Environmental Leadership: a Reference Handbook. Sage Publications, Thousand Oaks, California.

Clark, S.G., M.M. Steen-Adams, S. Pfirman, and R.L. Wallace. 2011. Professional development of interdisciplinary environmental scholars. Journal of Environmental Studies and Sciences 1:99-113.

Clark, S.G., M.B. Rutherford, M.R. Auer, D.N. Cherney, R.L. Wallace, D.J. Mattson, D.A. Clark, L. Foote, N. Krogman, P. Wilshusen, T. Steelman. 2011. College and university environmental programs as a policy problem (Part 1): integrating knowledge, education, and action for a better world? Environmental Management 47(5): 701-715.

Clark, S.G., M.B. Rutherford, M.R. Auer, D.N. Cherney, R.L. Wallace, D.J. Mattson, D.A. Clark, L. Foote, N. Krogman, P. Wilshusen, T. Steelman. 2011. College and university environmental programs as a policy problem (Part 2): strategies for improvement. Environmental Management 47(5): 716-726.

Wallace, R.L. and K.A. Semmens*. 2010. Social and institutional challenges in species and ecosystem conservation: an appraisal of the U.S. Marine Mammal Commission. Policy Sciences 43:203-228.

*Ursinus student author

Years of Service to Ursinus