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Course Descriptions


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 earth systems science, providing a basic understanding of how the earth's hydrosphere, lithosphere, atmosphere and biosphere work and how they interact.

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. By using al native materials, designing through a programmatic structure of indigenous systems, in a sustainable framework the student will parallel architectural and design schematics presented in theory and research to an applied reality. 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 in application, intended for students new to the major or minor. Course may be repeated for credit when topics vary with approval of the Department Chair.

ENVR 220: Environmental Methods & Measurement (2) This course serves as an introduction to the analytical tools and metrics of environmental studies, providing students with quantitative and methodological skills germane to environmental problem solving that can be applied in upper division courses and in their own research projects. Topics covered will include basic statistical analysis, environmental footprinting, cost-benefit and other economic metrics, energy auditing, green building standards, greenhouse gas emissions auditing, green certification programs, field- and laboratory-based measurement tools and other common standards. Students will learn to apply these methods and to critique the use of similar methods by the media, in marketing campaigns and by other researchers.

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; examine different approaches to food sustainability and environmental sustainability; and delve into politics of food regulation.

ENVR 275: Environmental Science II: Humans in the Environment (4) An interdisciplinary scientific exploration of environmental issues through case studies. Specific case studies will be chosen by the instructor, but will typically center around the broad topics of population, climate change, food and agriculture, biodiversity, pollution and energy.

ENVR 300C: Environmental Justice (4) This course explores the relationship between environment, ideas of justice, and social inequity. We will examine how racial, economic, and cultural status can affect people's access to a clean, safe environment and productive natural resources. We will consider examples of how people's access to a safe, clean environment and vital natural resources are threatened or violated locally, nationally, and globally. Specific issues examined may include energy issues such as coal mining and fracking, siting of hazardous waste facilities, exposure to toxins, and inequalities in food systems, among others. This course will also look at the environmental justice movement as it emerged in the late 20th century, both within the United States as well as globally. Although the primary perspective is sociological, the course is taught from an interdisciplinary approach that includes history, ethics and natural science. Using a mixture of in-depth case studies and broader theory, the course will specifically look at the connection between institutional racism and environmental problems in the U.S., the perpetuation of class inequalities, the lack of diversity in the mainstream environmental movement, and the role of women in the environmental justice movement. The role of public policy (such as zoning and the history of urban segregation) will be discussed, as well as some of the mechanisms being used to secure environmental rights and promote environmental justice.

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 300N: Conservation & Natural Resource Management (4) The course focuses on the management of natural resources, conflicts over natural resources, and basic problems in natural resource policy-making. It explores the legal, administrative, and political dimensions of natural resource management problems in various sectors including soil, public rangelands, forests, water, national parks, biodiversity, and recreation. It also considers the role of environmental ideas, organizations, and civil society in pursuing a variety of conservation and management strategies.

ENVR 300O: Climate Studies (4) This course uses a cultural focus to understand how humans study, experience, interpret, and mitigate global climate change. We investigate climate science, politics, and economics, along with how climate change intersects with matters of justice, gender, globalization, media, development, and higher education. As we learn about these topics, we will conduct applied research on particular climate topics at various scales-local, state, national, and international-to work towards defining solutions and ways forward in a rapidly changing environment.

ENVR 300P: Environmental Writing (4) This course will offer the experience of exploring the interplay between the world of woods (nature) and the world of words (literature). Students will read, analyze and discuss a wide range of nature writing, but the main focus of the class will be on the creation of their own body of nature-based, written work, primarily in the form of creative nonfiction. Emphasis will be placed on the development of individual voices and styles. Prerequisite: Completion of FYS and junior standing.

ENVR 300Q: Environmental Health (4) This course will explore the health of the environment and how it relates to public policy by examining the issues and problems associated with environmental pollution and how pollutants impact our ecosystem. Students will develop an understanding of the physical processes involved in polluted environments as well as the socioeconomic consequences. Topics may include energy and resources; water treatment; geoengineering; climate change; remediation strategies; environmental public policy; in addition to pollution in the air, water, and soil including heavy metals, toxic organic compounds, ozone, greenhouse gases and pesticides.

ENVR 300R: Sustainable Urban Planning (4) A sustainable world requires continual examination and debate related to the ways we plan, design and manage human settlements. Urban planners and policy makers address both the built and natural environment and the relationships between town and country. Sustainable development has ecological, economic and social aspects. The organization and design of space is a prime source of resource and energy use, as well as being a key to well -functioning and healthy communities. The course includes discussion and debate on themes including land use, economic development, ecological footprint, social neighborhood planning, citizen participation, work and mobility, and urban ecology.

ENVR 300S: Sustainable Business (4) The rules of business have changed. Long-term success for business requires more than a positive cash flow. Companies now must be economically, environmentally, and socially sustainable in order to survive in today's global business economy. Sustainability has gone beyond a buzzword and is now integrated in the business strategies of nearly every major company. This course will take an in-depth look at the drivers for sustainability and the reasons why businesses are pursuing sustainability. The course will also look at the best industry practices of companies pursuing sustainability initiatives and analyze how these companies are using those practices to create a competitive advantage. Major areas of sustainability such as energy, food, water, waste, transportation, and personal responsibility will be covered.

ENVR 310: Environmental Geography (4) This course is an upper level, reading intensive course focusing on global environmental issues from the perspective of geography. Using water as a topical focus, the course will consider human modifications of and responses to the environment; the sometimes unintended consequences of such actions; and water as a key resource and potential source of conflict in the 21st century. As an environmental studies course, the subject matter is interdisciplinary and will include physical geography.

ENVR 311:  Introduction to Geographic Information Systems (4) This is an introductory course in Geographic Information Systems (GIS). GIS is designed to collect, store, and us spatial and geographical information, such as land use, property ownership, roads, rivers, lakes, forest cover type, elevation, versus tract boundaries and data, and political boundaries. In this course, students will learn to use ESRI's ArcGIS software within a larger context that also includes a history of cartography, the uses and abuses of maps, elements of map design, mental maps, participatory GIS, and a range of ethical issues that must be considered in learning how to use this powerful technology responsibly.

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) In depth, interdisciplinary study of a single topic in environmental studies. By design the course will provide both depth of exposure in a topic and methodological instruction and application of research skills in the field, as preparation for the research requirements of other upper division ENVR courses and for the application in post-collegiate career settings. Topics will vary each semester, but skills covered will include group discussion, formal oral presentation, poster design and presentation, secondary literature analysis, research design, collaborative project design and implementation and written presentation of research results. This course is intended for junior/senior majors and must be taken before enrolling in the ENVR 395: Research Seminar.

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 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 for Majors

  • ENVR 150
  • ENVR 175
  • ENVR 215
  • ENVR 220
  • ENVR 275
  • ENVR 320
  • ENVR 395
  • ENVR 397