Corson to lead MHC’s environmental center

Corson on the job

By Keely Savoie

Catherine Corson, associate professor of environmental studies, has been appointed director of the Miller Worley Center for the Environment.

The Miller Worley Center for the Environment is dedicated to engaging MHC students in the scientific, human, and global dimensions of environmental study.

Jon Western, vice president for academic affairs and dean of faculty, said Corson’s “longstanding commitment to multidisciplinary collaboration, and deep understanding of environmental policy” made her an “outstanding choice” to lead the Center.

“Catherine is a highly respected scholar on the environment and an outstanding teacher. She has both the depth of knowledge and the scope of vision to guide the Center into the future,” Western said.

Corson, who has taught at Mount Holyoke since 2010, has published numerous papers in the field of environmental policy. She has served on the faculty advisory board for the Miller Worley Center for three years. In addition, Corson has served on the faculty advisory board for the McCulloch Center for Global Initiatives for five years. Corson succeeds Timothy J. Farnham, who served a seven-year term as director.

As director, Corson will develop programs for students, faculty, and staff to promote better understanding of the environment and encourage integration of environmental education into all facets of life, on and off campus. Corson will also expand programming to explore the social, cultural, historical, political-economic, and scientific dimensions of environmental concerns.

“This is an exciting and important moment,” she said. “Because of the urgent nature of issues like climate change, young people are mobilizing at colleges across the country with increasing determination to address them. Mount Holyoke College is well positioned to be a leader, not just nationally, but also internationally, in these efforts.”

Corson, whose research focuses on understanding environmental agreements and how international policy decisions are made, has received numerous fellowships and grants to pursue her work. Most recently, she was awarded a $240,000 grant from the National Science Foundation to study how environmental agreements between nations are made, and what contributes to their success or failure. Previously, she spent almost ten years consulting in environmental policy for the United States and British governments, and for international institutions including the World Bank.

“My background in environmental consulting inspires my interest in bridging scientific research, community engagement, and public service, as well as in helping students to translate their academic learning into professional careers,” said Corson.

“Students will need to understand the multidimensional aspects of environmental problems—from the scientific to the cultural and the local to the global—as well as develop the ability to translate their knowledge into action,” she said. “I want the Center to be a place that helps students to feel confident, empowered, and prepared for this lifelong journey.”

Corson received a bachelor’s degree in biology and society from Cornell University in 1992. She later earned a master's degree in public administration, also from Cornell. After working as an environmental consultant for nearly a decade, she received a master’s degree in environmental and resource economics from the University College of London in 2003 and a doctorate in environmental science, policy, and management from the University of California at Berkeley in 2008. After completing her postdoctoral research at Cambridge University as a National Science Foundation international postdoctoral researcher, she joined Mount Holyoke.

“As director of the Miller Worley Center, I will focus on the mission of fostering women’s leadership to address the environmental challenges of the twenty-first century, and build on Mount Holyoke’s commitment to advance women’s leadership in social change.”

Learn more about the Miller Worley Center for the Environment.