At Sterling College we define ecology as the study of the relationships among living organisms, people and the environment, and how those relationships change over time. The Ecology Major provides students with an in-depth understanding of the natural world and the conservation of ecological systems and natural resources. The discipline is experiential by nature and employs a variety of methods to integrate theory and practice. Natural history courses emphasize hands-on observation, identification, description and interpretation of organisms in their natural habitats, investigating the ecological and evolutionary interplay between physical factors and the life histories of organisms. Scientific methodologies such as field surveys and population assessments build upon observation techniques, emphasizing the development of working hypotheses and testing such hypotheses in a variety of settings. Conservation courses integrate an ecological and biological understanding of the natural world into land use and management decisions, thus cultivating a land ethic described by Aldo Leopold as "a state of harmony between [humans] and Land."