Course Descriptions


ENVR 150: Introduction to Environmental Studies (4) 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.

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 250: Environmental Methods and Analysis (4) Thiscourse serves as an introduction to the analytical tools and metrics of environmental studies, providing students with quantitative and qualitative methodological skills germane to environmental problem solving that can be applied in upper division courses and in their own research projects. Emphases will include basic quantitative literacy, units of measurement commonly used in environmental fields, estimation, basic applied statistical analysis, cost-benefit and other economic metrics, textual analysis of survey and interview data, and data visualization through construction of graphics and maps. Students will also be guided through the process of collecting both primary and secondary data. 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 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 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 300T: Sustainable Agriculture Science (4) 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 interactions between soil, water, organisims, 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.

ENVR 300U: Gender, Development, and Environment (4) This course focuses on relationships between gender, environment, and development in both the US and South Asia. Issues we will use as case studies for examining gender differences may include forest conservation, climate change, agricultural production, disaster recovery, toxic waste, resistance to big dams, the privitization of water, etc. We will read about and reflect on gender and its relationship to environmental practices and international development; for example, we will explore relationships between notions of masculinity and power/control of environmental and economic activity. We will also examine the disproportionate impact of environmental destruction and economic dislocations on women and children, particularily from poor and minority communities. 

ENVR 300X: Energy and Society (4) How does energy work and how does it relate to our communities and collective future? 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. For the final project, you will have the opportunity to become an expert in a pathway for creating sustainable and just energy futures.

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 315: American Environmental Literature (4) This course explores the long history of American writing about nature and the envrionment, 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, and discussing, and writing critically  about a wide range of examples from 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, and ethical reasoning.

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 331: 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 360: U.S. Environmental History (4) Environmental history is the study of the relationship between humans and nature over time. This course examines the changing American understanding of nature in the 19th and 20th centuries with particular attention to the development of public policies toward natural resources and wildlife, the emergence of a new set of values recognizing non-utilitarian values in nature, and to the evolution of the conservation and environmental movements. Intellectual, political, economic, scientific, and social evidence will all be examined in the process of placing nature back into the human history of North America. This course is suitable for students of any major, including those who have not taken a previous history course. 

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.