Course Descriptions

The eight starred core courses are required for environmental studies majors.


ENVR 150: Introduction to Environmental Studies (4) This course is an interdisciplinary introduction to environmental studies, involving case-based investigation of environmental issues combining perspectives from the social sciences, natural sciences, and humanities. Topics will vary but may include such subjects as endangered species, air/water pollution, environmental justice/racism, animal rights, global warming, ecotourism, agriculture, nature writing, campus ecology, and others.

ENVR 175: Environmental Science I: Earth Systems (4)  An interdisciplinary introduction to the science underlying environmental issues. This course will focus on the principles of chemistry and geology and in their application to environmental problems. Laboratory experiences will involve exercises and experiments that engage students in the process of science, including design of experiments, analysis and presentation of quantitative data, and written and oral communication.

ENVR 200A: Environmental Art & Architecture (4) This course focuses on a range of issues addressing art, architecture and their relationship to a sustainable environment. Through an analysis of critical theory, students will gain an understanding of the language and critical issues of art, architecture and their impact upon the environment. Through a hands-on approach, students will apply these concepts to make ceramic artwork in the SJU Pottery studio. Students will critically analyze readings, discuss examples of art and architecture and meet with artists in order to expand their understanding of the relationship between art, architecture and the environment.

ENVR 215: Sustainability Workshop (2) Colloquium focusing on current environmental issues, intended for students new to the major or minor. Must be taken concurrently with two other courses approved for the major. Includes service learning and field study components.

ENVR 225: Food, Gender, Globalization, and the Environment (4) This course will examine the environmental, economical, and social equity issues of food production, processing, distribution, consumption, and disposal. We explore the journey of food from the field to our table. To map successfully this journey we analyze women’s and men’s roles, historically and currently, in food production: determine global food supply and hunger trends: compare consumption patterns among countries: investigate the environmental impact of agricultural methods of food production: examine different approaches to food sustainability and environmental sustainability; and delve into the politics of food.

ENVR 275: Environmental Science II: Humans in the Environment (4) An interdisciplinary introduction to the science underlying environmental issues. This course will focus on the principles of biology and their integration with chemical and geological principles from ENVR 175 to analyze environmental problems. Laboratory experiences will involve exercises, experiments, and outdoor field study that engage students in the process of science, including design of experiments, analysis and presentation of quantitative data, and written and oral communication. 

ENVR 300E: Envisioning Nature (4) This course will examine the evolution of our modern understanding of the natural world. How do we imagine nature, and do other cultures (past and present) imagine it differently? Where exactly did our current understanding of the natural world come from, and where does it seem to be heading in the future? In asking these questions, we will also explore how different visions of nature (nature as God's creation, nature as mechanical structure, nature as a complex ecosystem, human nature, etc.) have shaped our approach to our understanding of the lives we live. Students will examine a mix of history, biology, political philosophy, literature, film and cultural theory texts as part of a course of study designed to investigate where, why, and how writing and nature intersect in our world today.

ENVR 300G: Science of Global Climate Change (4) Is Earth's climate rapidly changing, and if so, what is causing it? Heated ideological debates and images of imminent environmental catastrophe generated by the issue of climate change often obscure the scientific foundation upon which it rests. In this course students will gain a basic understanding of the interdisciplinary science behind climate change and its impacts. Following an introduction to the climate system, we will explore Earth's climatic history and how we know about this history, the drivers of climate change past and present, and the impact of climate change and stability on human societies in the past, present, and future. Labs will focus on furthering understanding of climatic processes, methods in paleoclimateology, and the use of models in climate science. 

ENVR 300I: Environmental Anthropology (4)  This course examines the relationships between human cultures and the environments that they inhabit. We will engage with the ways in which environments are collusions of human knowledge, perspective, histories, and economic and other cultural systems. Many of the course texts grapple with environmental management systems throughout the world, and ways that people plan for, participate in, subvert, and are affected by environment management schemes. Furthermore, this course also emphasizes the ways in which people shape knowledge about the environment and environmental management through historical vantages as well as Western science, particularly conservation biology and ecology.  

ENVR 310: Environmental Geography (4) Case-study based and issue-oriented approach to understanding relationships between societies and their environments from a geographical perspective. Centered on exploring how humans around the world have modified their environments, and how societies respond to environmental change. Examining these processes includes exploring the current and historical roles played by social and cultural institutions, by political and economic systems, and by forces such as development and globalization.

ENVR 311:  Introduction to Geographic Information Systems (4) Geographic Information Systems are combinations of data management and mapping software that allow users (such as city and state governments) to organize, query, and map multiple forms of spatial data. Data can include road networks, lakes and streams, vegetation or soil types, land use, property ownership, zoning codes, elevations, census tract data, and so on. In this class, students will learn how these systems work and will produce a series of maps, some from existing data and others from new data collected during the course with global positioning systems (GPS). In order to do this successfully, students will learn spatial analysis techniques, some principles of cartography, and will consider the ethical and social justice implications of the use of GIS and GPS technologies. 

ENVR 312: Geography of Asia (4)  Asia is a complex and diverse part of the world that contains more than half of the world's population, some of the world's fastest growing economies, and countries and cultures that are fundamentally linked to our everyday lives in North America. In this upper-division, reading-intensive course, students will be introduced to the natural environments, political developments, demographic trends, gender issues, religious and cultural frameworks, and past and present relationships between the United States and Asian countries, The course will emphasize current events, problem, and trends across sub-regions and in individual countries, and will draw on diverse sources of information including books, academic and popular articles, films and novels.

ENVR 320: Research Colloquium (4)

ENVR 321: Sustainable Agriculture (4) How do we sustain the environment and provide food security to 9 billion people in 2042? This course examines the causes of food insecurity; investigates the environmental, human, and cultural costs of industrial agricultural food production; identifies the environmental consequences of producing protein foods, e.g. fish farming, meat, and soybeans; explores the potential and the risks of agricultural biotechnology to increase the global food supply. Students will examine the claims made by proponents of sustainable agriculture and assess its potential in balancing human food production with other environmental goods.

ENVR 335: Environmental Education Pedagogy(4)  This course is designed for individuals that are planning on teaching in the field of environmental education in formal classroom settings and/or interpretive settings, such as environmental learning centers. Some of the issues that will be explored are the incorporation of environmental education in standards based settings, the dichotomy of advocacy versus education, and the history, trends and best practices of environmental education. The relationship between the two types of environmental education settings will also be explored, including collaboration, and students will be designing and teaching environmental education curriculum base on the North American Association for Environmental Education's Excellence in Environmental Education-Guidelines for Learning. This course will include a practicum experience.

ENVR 395: Research Seminar (4) Capstone seminar for majors/minors; intensive research project and formal presentation in collaborative setting. Prerequisite: senior standing or permission of instructor.

ENVR 397: Internship in Environmental Studies (1-8) Supervised career exploration which promotes the integration of theory with practice. An opportunity to apply skills under direct supervision in an approved setting. Prerequisites: approval of the department chair and a faculty moderator; completion of the pre-internship seminar.


Required Courses
  • ENVR 150
  • ENVR 175
  • ENVR 215
  • ENVR 220
  • ENVR 275
  • ENVR 320
  • Senior Thesis
  • Internships