Environmental Studies

Climate Studies Electives

This list of courses fulfills requirements for the climate studies minor.

Introduction to Environmental Studies (ENVR 150)

Interdisciplinary introduction to environmental studies. 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. Attributes: Benedictine Raven

Intro to Computer Art (ART 218)

Introduction to the Macintosh platform, digital imaging, and the principles of two-dimensional design. Understanding the computer as a tool for creative expression. Attributes: Fine Arts, Artistic Expression, Thematic Encounter-Truth

Food Systems: Policies and Controversies (NUTR 240, 2 credits)

This course is focused on the interrelationships between nutrition, various food systems, and agriculture. Food security, genetic modification, sustainability, and factors that impact producers and consumers will be emphasized.

Energy and Environment (INTG 278A)

An introduction to commercial energy production and consumption. The physical laws governing energy transformations, the effects of energy consumption on a finite resource base and the impact of energy use in a closed environment will be examined. The technology and impact of major energy sources: fossil fuels, nuclear, solar, as well as energy-efficient consumption will be investigated. An opportunity for experimentation is provided. Intended for non-science majors. Attributes: Natural Science, Natural World, Quantitative Reasoning, Thematic Focus-Movement

World Literature of Climate Change (ENVR 300D)

This course explores literary writing from around the globe about climate change, with particular attention to questions of post-coloniality and environmental justice. Texts will include readings from every continent, including Antarctica, as well as genres ranging from poetry to literary theory to "cli-fi" (climate science-fiction). Through reading, thinking, discussing, and writing critically about a wide range of genres and cultural expressions, students will gain an appreciation for the depth of the world's literary approaches to the climate crisis. Students will learn to actively engage such writing from a variety of approaches including historical analysis, ecocriticism, and ethical reasoning. Attributes: Human Experience (HE), Thematic Encounter3 - Justice, Writing Requirement (WR)  

Environmental Health (ENVR 300Q)

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.

Sustainable Agriculture Science (ENVR 300T)

Managing agricultural landscapes to provide the world with sustainable food, fiber, and fuel while conserving the environment and addressing climate change is a grand challenge of 21st century agriculture. This course examines agroecosystems as complex adaptive systems characterized by interactions and feedbacks among organisms, the atmosphere, climate, and the cycling of elements at local to global scales. Key elemental cycles of carbon and nitrogen and how human activities are affecting these cycles and creating environmental challenges will be emphasized. Soil and crop management practices and resulting interactions between soil, water, organisms, and organic and chemical inputs form the basis for discussions on diverse cropping systems, soil health, water quality and quantity, bioenergy, greenhouse gases, and sustainability. Attributes: Natural World, Thematic Encounter-Movement

Climate Action Workshop (ENVR 303)

This course involves exploration of climate policy and climate justice action at the national, regional, and local level. Students will learn about climate change and its effects, policies, and technologies to address climate change, and debates over taking action, focused on the national and local level. Students will gain hands-on organizing skills through planning an event around climate justice, interview climate justice stake holders in the MN region, and engage in solidarity work with MN-based climate justice organizations, including attendance at local events. Sophomore standing required. Attributes: Thematic Encounter-Justice

United Nations Climate Change Conference (ENVR 305, 2 credits)

This course involves preparation for, research in support of, and attendance at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) annual Conference of Parties (COP). Meeting once per week in the fall semester, students will learn about climate change and its effects, policies and technologies to address climate change, and debates over taking action, all at the global level. Students will also learn about the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, and the UNFCCC, in preparation for attending the conference. Each student will focus on one aspect of climate change, writing a research paper that includes both preliminary research before the conference then primary research at the conference itself, attending sessions devoted to that issue and interviewing stakeholders. Participants are required to attend the COP during the semester they take this course. Enrollment is by permission of instructor only. Applications for this course are accepted each spring semester. Students accepted into the course will be enrolled in the course by the instructor. Attributes: Social Science, Social World, Thematic Encounter-Justice

Global Climate Change Policy (ENVR 306, 2 credits)

This course is under development. Description to come.

American Environmental Literature (ENVR 315)

This course explores the long history of American writing about nature and the environment, with particular attention to questions of the human place in nature. Some of this literature is about exploration - what is out there? Some of this is about the utility of nature - what can we do with vast forests, grasslands, or rivers? But the most interesting examples are often about what we can learn from nature and what obligations we may have to non-human life - what is our place in nature? The styles and traditions of American nature/environmental writing have changed dramatically over time and today are quite diverse, incorporating at times elements of philosophy, theology, ethics, science, economics, politics, and art. Through reading, thinking, discussing, and writing critically about a wide range of examples from the genre students will gain an appreciation for the depth of the American literary approach to nature, become familiar with many of the writers and texts that could be said to form a "canon" in the field, and will learn to actively engage such writing from a variety of approaches including historical analysis, ecocriticism, an dethical reasoning. Attributes: Humanities, Human Experience, Thematic Encounter-Justice

Environmental and Natural Resource Economics (ECON 318)

Examination of the economics of natural resources and the environment with special focus on environmental policy formulation. Topics include inter-temporal efficiency criteria, cost/benefit analysis, and sustainability issues. Attributes: Thematic Encounter-Justice

Elementary Science Content (EDUC 323)

The purpose of this course is to provide pre-service teachers with content specific knowledge, methods, and theoretical basis necessary for success in the elementary science education classroom. The course content emphasizes: teaching for conceptual understanding, problem solving, reasoning and sense making, inquiry, modeling, representations, science as a coherent and connected subject, and technology integration. The course is also designed to help pre-service teachers develop an understanding of how to use national and state science standards in lesson planning, instruction, and assessment, and become aware of various teaching resources that are available to enrich the science instruction. Attributes: Natural Science, Natural World, Thematic Encounter-Truth

Global Malnutrition and Disease (NUTR 326)

This upper division Nutrition course will allow students to build upon fundamental concepts of nutrition and apply them to real-world applications in the context of global health. Food security, the burden and origins of disease, social economic status, policy, education, and natural disasters all impact nutrition globally and will be emphasized. Attributes: Social Science, Social World, Thematic Focu-Trut

Gender and Environment (ENVR 327)

This course explores the links between gender, women and environments, with an emphasis on the interconnections between environments and the workings of power that shape gender-based inequality, resistance, and strategies for social change. Through reading, discussion, documentary films, and research projects, we will explore how gender inequalities and norms of femininity and masculinity shape and are shaped by environments. The course will focus on local and global contexts, covering topics such as ecofeminism; intersectionality; environmental and climate justice; climate change; women's leadership in the environmental movement and community resiliance; development; gendered perceptions of environmental risk; queer perspectives on environmental issues; how gendered divisions of labor (particularly care of children and elderly) affect environmental experiences; sustainable agriculture and redistribution of global resources; the effects of globalization and militarism on women and the environment; social constructions of gender and science; and the relationship between gender and environmental policy-making, inequalities, and health. Attributes: Cultural/Social Difference-Systems, Ethics, Gender

Environmental Politics and Policy (POLS 330)

This course is about the politics and policies surrounding environmental issues at all levels of government. Many issues are both local and global. Transportation, electricity, and food are locally experienced but have global as well as local environmental ramifications. Environmental politics and policies draw upon a range of disciplines including economics, history, ecology, and ethics in addition to political science, public policy, and public administration. In covering environmental politics, we focus on the themes of environmentalism from lobbying, legislation litigating to protests and the politics of corporate sustainability. The policy focus emphasizes content related to major federal laws and the federal agencies that oversee environmental policy. The second half of the course concentrates on specific local, national and international issues such as the management of national forests, food politics, and local land use planning. We study each issue by discussing players and major debates. 

Science of Climate Changes (ENVR 331)

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 we will explore: (i) Earth's climatic history and how we know about its history, (ii) the drivers of climate change past and present, and (iii) the impact of climate changes and the stability on the biosphere and human societies in the past. By understanding how climate naturally changed in the past we will be able to better understand current human-driven change. The impacts of, and potential solutions to the current climate crisis will be covered within this historical context.

Environmental Chemistry, Atmosphere (CHEM 344A, 2 credits)

The behavior of chemicals in earth’s natural systems is critical to the study of environmental chemistry. Recently, copious amounts of toxic and corrosive chemicals have been produced and dispersed into the environment. This course will address the source and fate of compounds found both in natural and polluted air. The reactivity of compounds and their effect on the natural cycle in the atmosphere will also be explored. Specific topics could include CFCs, dioxins, pesticides, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), ozone, and particulate matter.

Environmental Chemistry, Lithosphere/Hydrosphere (CHEM 344B, 2 credits)

The behavior of chemicals in earth’s natural systems is critical to the study of environmental chemistry. Recently, copious amounts of toxic and corrosive chemicals have been produced and dispersed into the environment. This course will address the source and fate of compounds found both in natural and polluted soil and water. The reactivity of compounds and their effect on the natural cycle in the lithosphere and hydrosphere will also be explored. Specific topics could include water treatment processes, pharmaceuticals and personal care products, dioxins, pesticides, polybrominated biphenyl ethers (PBDEs), and DOM.

Nanomaterials (CHEM 346, 2 credits)

This course will focus on the fundamental principles in nanomaterials. Topics may include; structural materials, conductors, semiconductors, sensors, or polymers. The students will be presented with current synthetic techniques for the production of bulk and nanostructured materials along with analytical methodologies to physically characterize materials. Prerequisites: CHEM 255 or departmental permission. NOTE: The in-depth courses do not require a completion of all the foundation courses indicated by the specified prerequisite course(s).

Environmental Anthropology (SOCI 349)

This course examines the relationships between human cultures and the environments 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 throughout historical vantages as well as Western science, particularly of conservation biology and ecology.

Sustainable Urban Planning (POLS 350A) 

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. 

Sustainable Energy (CHEM 354, 2 credits)

The world’s energy demands are increasing and drawbacks associated with fossil fuels have spurred the search for energy alternatives. This course will examine alternative options such as solar energy, nuclear energy, hydrogen economy and fuel cells, ethanol production from switchgrass or algae versus corn, other biofuels, and batteries. In addition, methods for making fossil fuels more sustainable will be discussed. Emphasis will be on the chemistry and thermodynamics of these processes with a focus not only the final energy production but the actual energy costs and environmental impacts of a given technology.

Global Environmental Politics (PCST 354)

This course explores the efforts of nation-states to collectively deal with global environmental problems, identifies alternatives to the nation-state (e.g. environmental NGOs), and studies domestic political movements to protect the environment. As a historically-rooted endeavor, this course examines how global environmental action has emerged as a result of increased international cooperation, newly available scientific information, ambivalence about the success of development, and changing attitudes reagrding our responsibility to nature. Through the application of social science concepts such as the "tragedy of the commons", collective action theory, and regime formation theory, students will attempt to devise public policy solutions for global environmental issues. Many global environmental effects are felt most strongly in the developing world and these countries' experiences have given rise to many of the most potent critiques of modernization and development theory, both of which contribute to the course emphasis on areas outside of Western Europe and the United States. Alternate years. 

Sustainable Business (GBUS 368)

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.

Energy & Society (ENVR 377A)

This course explores the relationship between energy and society. Through diverse materials and field trips, we will learn about the energy infrastructures that power our society, the social, political, and cultural factors that shape energy production and consumption, and the relationship between energy, environment, and climate. Throughout, we will examine how all of these factors inform inequalities in who has access to energy and who is impacted by energy extraction, processing, transportation, and consumption. Students will leave the course prepared to assess the social and environmental impacts and benefits of different types of energy, and to contribute to discussions about building sustainable and just energy futures. Attributes: Social Science, Social World, Thematic Focus-Justice

Environmental Rhetoric (COMM 378A)

This course examines how people use communication to articulate viewpoints about the natural environment in the public sphere. Students study an array of environmental discourse, including speeches, advocacy campaigns, advertisements, image events, environmental reporting and news, film and media, to see how these messages convey meaning and shape audience attitudes and behavior about the environment. Attributes: Benedictine Raven, Humanities, Human Experience, Thematic Focus-Movement

College of Saint Benedict
Saint John’s University

Dr. Derek Larson
Chair, Environmental Studies
SJU Peter Engel 235

Jennifer Kutter
Department Coordinator
SJU Peter Engel 201

[email protected]