Division of Environment, Math, Psychology and Health

Welcome to our Division

The world will face major challenges in the coming decades and need people with the right skills and knowledge to face the environmental, health, and other crises that will come our way. The faculty and the programs of the division of Environment, Mathematics, Psychology, and Health (EMPH) strive to prepare students to become the problem solvers of tomorrow.

Our programs provide students the knowledge and experiences they need to understand the world around them, to define problems, and assess solutions.  Our classes allow students to engage real-world problems in the classroom and beyond, through Academic Travels, internship program, laboratories, and various field experiences.  Our active, experiential approach help students become independent, critical thinkers able to succeed on campus and in their future lives.

 

The EMPH division offers three majors: BAs in both Environmental Studies and Psychology and a BS in Environmental Science. Additionally, we support the Environmental Science and the Psychology options in the combined major program, and minors in Applied Mathematics, Environmental Science, and Psychology. Further, we help coordinate the BA in Social Justice and Sustainability major and its minor. Lastly, we supervise the Pre-Health curriculum that prepares students for graduate studies in the health sciences.

Students with degrees from EMPH have gone on to graduate programs in a wide range of areas, including renewable energies, environmental management, psychology, and public health, as well as careers in NGO’s, consulting, industry, and government in countries all over the world.

Division Chair

Chair of the Academic Division of Environment, Math, Psychology and Health
Associate Professor, Biology and Environmental Sciences 

Ph.D. Montana State University, United States 
M.S. Swiss Institute of Technology in Zurich, Switzerland

Office: Villa, North Campus, Loft  
Phone: +41 91 986 36 62
Email: pdellacroce@fus.edu

Patrick Della Croce

HIGHLIGHTS

How long will it take to climb that mountain?

For hikers, knowing how long it will take to hike a specific route is important information for planning and safety. Often, signs (such as the well-known Swiss yellow trail markers) and other sources of information use general formulas to calculate the time a hiker needs. But, what if you could personalize those estimates? A collaboration by Franklin professor of mathematics, Erich Prisner, and Franklin alumnus, Peter Sui (Class of 2019), who was Professor Prisner’s research LLLS during the 2018 – 2019 academic year has done just that. The project combined data from Swiss topographic maps and four hikers to derive individualized formulas that would estimate hiking times for each person. A manuscript reporting the findings, Tailor-Made Linear Hiking-Time Formulas, is currently in review.

 

During the research LLLS, Peter got experience extracting data from the maps, managing data in Excel, and undertaking statistical analyses. When reflecting about the research experience, Peter, who now works as a corporate analyst, said that “Professor Prisner’s commitment and willingness to help me fostered my growth and confidence, not only as a student but also as an individual.”  He also emphasized Professor Prisner’s encouragement and engagement, both as a research supervisor and as a math professor.

FEATURED PUBLICATION

Sustainability in Educational Travel and Environmental Protection. Special Issue of Sustainability.

Dr. Hale edited and contributed to this special issue that highlights work from top scholars in the field of educational travel to examine how educational travel programs, such as Franklin’s Academic Travel program, can both educate about and impact human and natural environments.

Students & Alumni

Katherine Gannon '18

Going to Franklin was the best decision I have ever made.  I was totally nervous to move across the world from my comfortable life in California, but the experiences that greeted me when I finally committed and made the move were the most meaningful and joyful times of my life.  I would like to say that I’m thankful for every moment, but “thankful” would be an understatement.  From the incredible academic travel opportunities to walking out of class everyday knowing that I learned something new from my professors, Franklin is truly an unmatched college experience, for which I am very grateful!

Elena McGuire '17

Of all the universities I applied to, Franklin was the only one that offered a truly unique educational opportunity. The small class sizes and international student body allowed for group discussions full of diverse experiences and viewpoints. Getting to engage with the world, and the people of the world, on Academic Travel is an opportunity that no other university or private tour can match. It's one thing to discuss climate change in a classroom but it's another to visit a rapidly-shrinking glacier in the Swiss Alps. Franklin's professors go out of their way to help students get the most out of their educational experience. Whether it's sitting down together to pick the right courses or working with you for two years on a long-term research project (thanks, Professor Della Croce!), the faculty and staff at Franklin are invested in all of their students. My time at Franklin, especially within the Environmental Sciences department, helped me grow into a more curious, respectful, and conscientious global citizen.

Our Faculty

The faculty in EMPH came to Franklin with strong backgrounds and training from top programs in North America and Europe. They possess a wide range of expertise in academic and applied research and are active scholars in their respective fields. They draw upon this expertise regularly not only in teaching their courses, but also in working closely with students on Honors projects, theses, capstones, and more.  In particular, their expertise allows them to develop unique Academic Travel experiences that enhances our students’ education in very unique ways.

We invite you to peruse our individual faculty profiles for more information or check out the publications section below to see some of our recent scholarships.

Division Chair

Chair of the Academic Division of Environment, Math, Psychology and Health
Associate Professor, Biology and Environmental Sciences 

Ph.D. Montana State University, United States 
M.S. Swiss Institute of Technology in Zurich, Switzerland

Office: Villa, North Campus, Loft  
Phone: +41 91 986 36 62
Email: pdellacroce@fus.edu

Patrick Della Croce

Full-time Faculty

Interim Dean of Academic Affairs
Associate Professor, Biology and Environmental Science

Ph.D. University of Wisconsin-Madison
M.E.M. Duke University
B.A. Duke University

Office: NNorth Campus Villa Loft, Office 14
Phone: +41 91 986 36 50
Email: bhale@fus.edu

Brack W. Hale

Professor, Mathematics and Computing

Habilitation, Universität Hamburg, Germany
Ph.D. Universität Hamburg, Germany
Diploma (M.A.) Universität Hamburg, Germany

Office: Lowerre Academic Center, Office 11
Phone: +41 91 986 36 55
Email: eprisner@fus.edu

Erich Prisner

Part-time Faculty

Adjunct Professor, Environmental Sciences

Ph.D. University of Fribourg, Fribourg, Switzerland
M.S. University of Southern California, Los Angeles, USA
B.S. University of Southern California, Los Angeles, USA

Office: Villa, Kaletsch Campus, Office 8
Phone: +41 91 986 53 20
Email: nbernasconi@fus.edu

Nadia Bernasconi

Adjunct Professor, Psychology

Ph.D. Università della Svizzera Italiana, Switzerland
M.S. Catholic University of the Sacred Heart, Italy
B.A. Catholic University of the Sacred Heart, Italy

Office: Kaletsch Campus, Faculty Office 8
Phone: +41 91 986 53 04
Email: abova@fus.edu

Antonio Bova

Adjunct Professor, Chemistry

Doktorand, Fachdidaktik der Naturwissenschaften, Universität Konstanz, DE
MSE, Scuola Universitaria Professionale della Svizzera Italiana, CH
MA, University of Maryland, USA
MS, University of North Carolina at Wilmington, USA
BA, Duke University, USA 

Office: North Campus Villa Loft, Office 12 
Phone: +41 91 986 36 35
Email: mbullock@fus.edu

L. Martin Bullock
Our Highlights

Our division sponsors events, lectures, projects, conferences, and workshops that strive to enrich our campus community and provide a chance for our community to engage with others.  Follow some of our recent and upcoming activities here.

How long will it take to climb that mountain?

For hikers, knowing how long it will take to hike a specific route is important information for planning and safety. Often, signs (such as the well-known Swiss yellow trail markers) and other sources of information use general formulas to calculate the time a hiker needs. But, what if you could personalize those estimates? A collaboration by Franklin professor of mathematics, Erich Prisner, and Franklin alumnus, Peter Sui (Class of 2019), who was Professor Prisner’s research LLLS during the 2018 – 2019 academic year has done just that. The project combined data from Swiss topographic maps and four hikers to derive individualized formulas that would estimate hiking times for each person. A manuscript reporting the findings, Tailor-Made Linear Hiking-Time Formulas, is currently in review.

 

During the research LLLS, Peter got experience extracting data from the maps, managing data in Excel, and undertaking statistical analyses. When reflecting about the research experience, Peter, who now works as a corporate analyst, said that “Professor Prisner’s commitment and willingness to help me fostered my growth and confidence, not only as a student but also as an individual.”  He also emphasized Professor Prisner’s encouragement and engagement, both as a research supervisor and as a math professor.

Sustainability in Educational Travel and Environmental Protection

Dr. Hale is currently the guest editor of a special issue of the journal Sustainability, “Sustainability in Educational Travel and Environmental Protection.” The issue examines the role that educational travel programs play in both educating students about environmental issues as well as their own impacts and potential contributions to environmental protection. Additionally, he is the author of one of the contributions. The issue is open access and can be found here.

Green Office

Students in the 2021 Environmental Studies capstone course, supervised by Dr. Della Croce, developed a proposal to develop a Green Office at Franklin. Green Offices at higher education institutions are formally recognized, student-run initiatives in which students integrate sustainability into university culture.  The offices provide students with hands-on, real-world opportunities for sustainability policy, research, and practice. After receiving President Warden’s approval, three of the remaining capstone students (Alejandra Malavenda, Gabriella Teerlynck-Aviles, and Grace Kotnik) are spending the fall semester preparing for the formal launch of the Green Office in fall 2022. The Franklin University Switzerland Green Office (FUS GO) will be the first at a university in Switzerland or a US-accredited institution. For more information or to get involved please contact: greenoffice@fus.edu

Botanica Sudalpina 2021

The Division and Franklin were co-sponsors of the Botanica Sudalpina 2021 conference that took place in the 26 and 27th March 2021 (https://www.botanicasudalpina.ch/en/). Due to the COVID regulations, the conference had been postponed from November 2021 and ended up having to take place on-line. Nonetheless, the conference was a big success with almost 100 participants from across Europe. In addition to serving on the organizing committee, Dr. Hale, together with two former Franklin students (Lily Pifferini-Carter, Matthew Tralka), also presented a poster on using social media photographs as a source of field data for plant conservation.

The Sustainable Garden

The Franklin Campus Garden Project was one of first initiatives introduced by Franklin's Center for Sustainability Initiatives in 2010. The organic garden is the fruit of a student-faculty collaboration which allows students to grow food on campus and learn about plants and gardening.

Muzzano Lake Cleanup

In collaboration with Pro Natura, a major nonprofit environmental organization in Switzerland, students from Franklin have been organizing volunteer days annually since 2007 to remove invasive plant species, such as bamboo and palm trees, plant native shrubs, and pick up trash surrounding the lake. For more information about Pro Natura please visit their website.

Our Publications

Our faculty’s scholarship most commonly appears in peer-reviewed journals, although our faculty has also published books, book chapters, edited special issues of journals, and presented at scholarly conferences.  Our published research ranges from disciplinary investigations to interdisciplinary collaborations and connect to the real-world issues about which we strive to educate and empower our students.

Highlighted

Sustainability in Educational Travel and Environmental Protection. Special Issue of Sustainability.

Dr. Hale edited and contributed to this special issue that highlights work from top scholars in the field of educational travel to examine how educational travel programs, such as Franklin’s Academic Travel program, can both educate about and impact human and natural environments.

Mapping potential environmental impacts from tourists using data from social media: a case study in the Westfjords of Iceland

Hale BW. 2018. Mapping potential environmental impacts from tourists using data from social media: a case study in the Westfjords of Iceland. Environmental Management 62:446–457.

This publication was one of several that Dr. Hale produced from his sabbatical research in Spring 2017 in Iceland. The research combines geographic information systems (GIS) technology with data from social media photos to map the destinations of tourists and their potential impacts on the Icelandic landscape.

McGuire E. and Della Croce P. 2017. An analysis of changes in the environmental content of Caldecott and Newbery medal-winning children’s books, 1922-2016. International Journal of Environmental and Science Education 12(8), 1879-1894.

This publication demonstrates not only the collaboration that takes place between students and professors in our Division, but also the interdisciplinary and problem-oriented nature that our programs confront. This paper represents Len McGuire’s (Class of 2017) environmental studies thesis, which employed content analysis of children’s literature to assess the role that such literature plays in educating youth about the environment.

Hale BW, Della Croce P. 2015. In Everyone’s Backyard: Examining the intersection between invasive alien species and environmental justice. Intervalla, 3: 26-34

The article not only represents the fruit of a collaboration between two of our environmental science faculty, but also it was part of the SNF-funded workshop Environmental Justice, “Collapse,” and the Question of Evidence that took place at Franklin in 2015.  The article and the rest of the workshop proceedings were published in Franklin’s online journal, Intervalla.

Environmental Studies Capstone

2019 Environmental Studies Capstone (Cristina Biddlecome, Gabriella Muñoz, Mary Newton, Caitlin Payne, Ava Selvig, Pauline Thompson, Maria Camila Urrea, William Wallace, Azalea Watfa). 2019. The Road to Carbon Neutrality: Franklin University Switzerland’s Climate Action Plan. Report produced for Franklin University Switzerland.

This is an example of the type of project that graduating seniors in the Environmental Science and Studies programs can produce, applying the knowledge and skills they have learned to develop solutions to real world problems (see also the Green Office highlight which was a result of the 2021 Environmental Studies Capstone class).