Environmental Studies

Chair of Environmental Studies Academic Program: Keith Kisselle

Director of the Center for Environmental Studies: Peter Schulze

Director of Thinking Green Campus Awareness: Brad Smucker

Faculty: Mari Elise Ewing, Keith Kisselle, Peter Schulze

Members of the Steering Committee: Peter Schulze (chair), David Baker, Karánn Durland, Mari Elise Ewing, Steve Goldsmith, Max Grober, Keith Kisselle, Wolfgang Lueckel, Wayne Meyer, Daniel Nuckols, Donald Rodgers, Julia Shahid, Brad Smucker, Ivette Vargas-O’Bryan

The Center for Environmental Studies promotes multidisciplinary inquiry of environmental issues and problems through education, research, and outreach programs. These programs are designed to increase understanding, expand community awareness, and foster greater appreciation for the interdependence of humans and other species.

Students who are interested in the environmental studies major or minor are strongly encouraged to consult with Keith Kisselle, Pete Schulze, or Mari Elise Ewing at their earliest convenience. Students also are encouraged to study the webpage of the environmental studies program.

Degree Plans Offered in Environmental Studies

Major in Environmental Studies
Minor in Environmental Studies

A major in environmental studies consists of:

Introductory Course (1 course)

_____ ENVS 135 Fundamentals of Environmental Studies (offered fall and spring)

Natural Science Requirement (1 course*)

_____ BIOL 259 Conservation and Restoration Ecology (Fall; PREQs: BIOL 115)
_____ BIOL 346 Ecosystem Ecology (Spring; PREQs: BIOL 115, 116, CHEM 111, 200-level BIOL)
_____ BIOL 353 Physiological Ecology (Fall; PREQ: BIOL 115, 116, 200-level BIOL)
_____ PHY 240 Atmospheric and Environmental Physics (Spring, odd-numbered years; PREQs: PHY 111, PHY 112, MATH 151 and MATH 152)

*Courses require prerequisites to enroll.

Ethical or Conceptual Approaches Requirement (2 courses)

_____ ECO 242 Natural Resources and Environmental Econ (offered Spring of odd-numbers years; PREQ: ECO 101 or 102)
_____ PHIL 207 Ethics and the Environment (offered Spring of even-numbered years)
_____ PHIL 307 Environmental Philosophy (offered Spring of odd-numbered years; PREQs: Any PHIL class and ENVS 135)
_____ PSCI 230 Globalization (Spring)

Policy Requirement (3 courses)

_____ ENVS 245 Food Systems (Fall)
_____ ENVS 359 Resilient Systems (Fall; PREQ: Junior or Senior standing and ENVS 135 with C or higher)
_____ ENVS 379 Environmental Policy (Spring; PREQ: Junior or Senior standing and ENVS 135 with C or higher)
_____ ENVS 350 Current Controversies and Emerging Issues (most years; PREQ: Junior or Senior standing and ENVS 135 with C or higher)

Capstone (1 course)

_____ ENVS 439 The Decision Process (Spring; PREQ: Senior standing or instructor permission and ENVS 135 with grade of C or higher)

Electives (1 course from Electives or 1 more from above categories)

_____ ANTH 263 Whose Amazon? (offered occasionally)
_____ BIOL 326 Animal Behavior (Fall; PREQ: BIOL 115, 200-level BIOL)
_____ BIOL 336 Plant Biology (Fall; PREQ: BIOL 115, 200-level BIOL)
_____ BIOL 358 Ornithology (offered spring of odd years; PREQ: BIOL 115 and 200 level BIOL)
_____ GSTS 250 Intermediate Topics in Global Science, Technology and Society (offered occasionally)
_____ HIST 250 European Environmental History (offered occasionally)
_____ HIST 350 Darwin (offered occasionally; PREQ: Sophomore standing)
_____ SCI 201 Earth, Body, and Mind (Spring)

Any substitutions must be approved by the chair of the Environmental Studies Academic Program.

Other Considerations When Planning for the Major:

  • If Environmental Studies 135 will not fit a student’s schedule, good alternatives are Environmental Studies 245 Food Systems, Political Science 230 Globalization, Philosophy 207 Environmental Ethics, or the following prerequisites for higher level courses: Biology 115 Evolution, Behavior, and Ecology, Economics 101 Microeconomics, or Economics 102 Macroeconomics.
  • The major in environmental studies requires a minimum of 10 courses, but due to the interdisciplinary nature satisfies the science and social science breadth requirements, and partially satisfies the humanities breath requirement.
  • Students interested in environmental field studies abroad should consult with the academic chair regarding course substitutions.
  • Students considering environmental careers should choose a minor (or second major) that best complements their environmental interests, consider classes not required for the major but recommended for many environmental studies careers, such as Chemistry 111, Chemistry 112, Mathematics 120 (Statistics), Mathematics 151, and writing-intensive courses.
  • Students who plan to pursue further environmental study or an environmental career after graduation are strongly encouraged to consult with an environmental studies faculty member as soon as possible.

Total Credits Requirement = 10 course credits

A minor in environmental studies consists of:

Introductory Course (1 course)

____ ENVS 135 Fundamentals of Environmental Studies (offered Fall and Spring)

Policy Requirement (select 2 courses)

____ ENVS 245 Food Systems (Fall)
____ ENVS 359 Resilient Systems (Fall; PREQ: Junior or Senior standing and ENVS 135 with C or higher)
____ ENVS 379 Environmental Policy (Spring; PREQ: Junior or Senior standing and ENVS 135 with C or higher)
____ ENVS 350 Current Controversies and Emerging Issues (most years; PREQ: Junior or Senior standing and ENVS 135 with C or higher)
____ ENVS 439 The Decision Process (Spring; PREQ: Senior standing or instructor permission and ENVS 135 with grade of C or higher)

Electives (select 2 courses)

_____ ANTH 263 Whose Amazon? (offered occasionally)
_____ BIOL 259 Conservation and Restoration Ecology (Fall; PREQs: BIOL 115)
_____ BIOL 346 Ecosystem Ecology (Spring; PREQs: BIOL 115, 116, CHEM 111, 200-level BIOL)
_____ ECO 242 Natural Resources and Environmental Economics (offered fall; PREQ: ECO 101 OR ECON 102)
_____ HIST 250 European Environmental History (offered occasionally)
_____ PHIL 207 Ethics and the Environment (offered spring of even-numbered years)
_____ PHIL 307 Environmental Philosophy (offered Spring of odd-numbered years; PREQs: Any PHIL class and ENVS 135)
_____ PHY 240 Atmospheric and Environmental Physics (Offered every other Spring; PREQ: MATH 151, MATH 152, PHY 106, PHY 107)
_____ PSCI 230 Globalization (offered spring)

Other Considerations When Planning for the Minor:

  • Pre-approval from the academic chair is required to substitute any course not listed.

 Total Credits Requirement = 5 course credits

COURSES

ENVS 135 Fundamentals of Environmental Studies
An introduction to major environmental issues that includes fundamental concepts of environmental studies, the roots of environmental problems, options for responding to environmental problems, and challenges of achieving sustainability. Students write proposals for ways to reduce the college’s environmental impact. Requirements Met: Sciences. Formerly Environmental Studies 235. Credit offered for Environmental Studies 135 or 235 but not both. (Usually each fall and spring)

ENVS 245 Food Systems
This course challenges us to thoughtfully question how we secure one of our most fundamental needs – food. Our growing population and affluence means the global demand for food will most likely increase for at least another forty years. The question then is this: How might we feed these soon-to-be nine billion people sustainably? This course will explore the social and environmental problems linked to the production, storage, processing, distribution, and access of food. We will take an evidence-based, interdisciplinary approach to analyzing why these problems exist and how we might begin to solve them. Using introductory geographic information systems software (GIS), we will explore the concepts of space and place in complex food systems with an emphasis on American agriculture. Each topic in this course is deliciously ripe with controversy and well suited for study using this approach. The careful consideration of several recurring themes will make this course more than a smorgasbord of food system issues. GIS lab included. Requirements met: Social Sciences Breadth. Formerly offered Environmental Studies 250: Science, Politics and the Culture of Food. Credit cannot be granted for both courses. (Each fall)

ENVS 250 Topics in Environmental Studies
A study of selected topics for beginning students based on faculty and student interests.  Offered on an occasional basis. Course may be repeated when topic varies. 1 course credit.

ENVS 230 Globalization
This course provides an overview of the force we call globalization. Readings, lectures, and class discussions address different definitions and evaluation of globalization as well as the economic, political, social, cultural, and environmental impacts of global integration. Other topics covered include the structure, goals, and accountability of international organizations such as the United Nations, the World Trade Organization, the International Monetary Fund, and the World Bank, as well as the role of non-governmental actors in promoting or opposing globalization and in working to ensure the protection of social and environmental goals. (Each spring)

ENVS 260 Intermediate Directed Study
Student investigation of topic of interest working in collaboration with a faculty member resulting in significant oral and written work. See On-Campus Learning Opportunities for more information. PREQ: Freshman Jan Term or Sophomore standing. Special permission required. Offered in variable course credit from 0.25-1.00.

ENVS 310 Current Controversies and Emerging Issues
Should you drink from plastic containers? Should you eat organic food? Is Texas water policy adequate? Has global warming really stopped? Is there any hope of leaving the tar sands in the ground? Is Monsanto really killing the Monarchs? Why are bees dying? Is the Navy causing whale strandings?  This course explores student-selected hot environmental issues. Course participants assign readings and key questions for consideration, present results of literature reviews, and lead discussions. The instructor leads the first few cases as examples. Discussions are supplemented with in-person Skype-based visits with environmental professionals knowledgeable about the selected questions, and with the field sampling and analysis of related variables and processes as feasible. Guests will also comment on their careers, preparation for those careers, and advice for undergraduates. PREQ: Environmental Studies 235 and Junior or Senior standing. (Offered annually)

ENVS 359 Resilient Systems
This course connects people to places. It asks the question: How do we protect or restore places where people are inextricably linked to their environment? We will first explore the ecological concept of resilience and then, using a case study approach, analyze the social and economic institutions that either build or erode a system’s capacity to self-organize, learn, and adapt. For example, we will examine the characteristics that make some systems more resilient to natural disasters, disease outbreaks, or prolonged drought than other systems. We will study illustrative and diverse examples from around the world and here at home, seeking commonalities among cases while respecting context. This course especially seeks to serve students in the social sciences (anthropology, economics, environmental studies, political science, and sociology) interested in the historical and current conceptualizations of resilience and the role resilience plays in creating sustainable communities. PREQ: Environmental Studies 135 with C or higher and Junior or Senior standing or instructor permission. Requirements met: Social Sciences Breadth. (Each fall term)

ENVS 379 Environmental Policy
This course builds upon Environmental Studies 135 (formerly 235) and incorporates key ideas from ecology, economics, ethics, and other disciplines in a study of options for responding to environmental issues. The course examines both theoretical and actual approaches to solving and preventing environmental problems. Readings cover the history of environmental issues, leading ideas for more effective environmental policy, the system of laws and regulations in the United States and their development, and the challenge of international environmental agreements. PREQ: Completion of Environmental Studies 135 with a grade of C or higher and Junior or Senior standing or instructor permission. (Usually each spring).

ENVS 350, 450 Advanced Topics in Environmental Studies
An investigation of selected topics for more advanced students based on faculty and student interests. Offered on an occasional basis. Course may be repeated when topic varies. Prerequisites vary. 1 course credit.

ENVS 439 The Decision Process
The incumbent governor of a western state shared this story with an intimate audience: Upon challenging his young son to complete his homework without complaint, the boy replied, “Dad, it’s not like your job is hard. When there’s a problem, you just get the facts and make a decision.” While the governor wisely refrained from asking his son to reconsider the complexity of making decisions in the public realm, this course does just that – it emphasizes the reality that outcomes are the result of decisions made or not made by the people involved in those processes. This course introduces two frameworks (Ostrom’s institutional analysis & development framework and Lasswell’s policy sciences framework) that explicitly and systematically help us organize our observations and identify relationships among variables. In other words, they help us decide what to do with the facts. The assignments in this capstone course are specifically designed to (1) build upon the knowledge and interests of each student and (2) challenge each student to direct the ways in which we explore and employ these frameworks. For example, briefing reports ask students to synthesize the relevant readings, introduce new information to the class, and recommend directions for discussion. PREQ: Environmental Studies 135 with a C or better and Senior standing or instructor permission. Requirements met: Social Sciences Breadth. (Each spring)

ENVS 460 Advanced Directed Study
Student investigation of topic of interest related to the major or minor working in collaboration with a faculty member resulting in significant oral and written work. See On-Campus Learning Opportunities for more information. PREQ: Junior or Senior standing. Special permission required. Offered for variable course credit from 0.25-1.00.

ENVS 464 Teaching/Learning Participation
An individualized study that includes sharing in the instructional process for a particular environmental studies course under the supervision of the faculty member teaching the course. Open only to certain highly qualified juniors and seniors by invitation. See On-Campus Learning Opportunities for more information.

ENVS 490 Independent Study
An experiential learning activity to be approved by the Environmental Studies Steering Committee. Possible project areas include basic research, off-campus internships, and service projects. PREQ: Junior or Senior standing with preference for students who have completed their junior year. Offered in variable course credit from 0.25-1.00.

ENVS 491 Honors Thesis in Environmental Studies
Extensive independent study in the major in a topic of special interest culminating in a bachelor’s thesis with oral examination by thesis committee resulting in a bachelor’s degree with Honors upon completion.  See Departmental Honors Program for more information. Completed in last three semesters before graduation. Offered for variable course credit from 1.00-2.00.

ENVS 492 Independent Study Off-Campus/NSOC
Student-driven independent study in a topic related to the major completed at an off-campus site. See Off-Campus Learning Opportunities for more information. PREQ: Junior or Senior standing. Special permission required. Offered in variable course credit from 0.25-1.00.

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