Faculty-Dept-Environmental Studies

Environmental Studies

Sara G. Mitchell, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Biology and Director

The goal of the Environmental Studies Program is to provide students with a broad understanding of contemporary and past environmental problems, including an examination of their causes, mechanisms and effects. This understanding will reflect both the relevant natural processes and the interplay among the environment, human values, and social, political and economic institutions. Environmental issues such as the geography of pollution, sustainability of agriculture and renewable resources, and the distribution of biological and mineral resources are tied fundamentally to human wealth and poverty, to the distribution of power and to social justice. The linkage of scientific and non-scientific elements in Environmental Studies is fundamental to the program. While an understanding of the factual basis of environmental issues is necessarily scientific, such an understanding is rarely sufficient either for a full appreciation of the causes and consequences of an environmental issue or for choosing a solution to an environmental problem. A comprehensive appraisal of most environmental issues thus involves contributions from disciplines across the curriculum.

Students interested in environmental studies have the opportunity to pursue a minor or major. Both programs are designed to give students a multi-disciplinary experience that reflects the breadth and depth of the field. Both the major and minor programs are "student-centered," allowing each student to design the curriculum that best suits his/her interests. The minor involves seven courses and the major requires fourteen courses. Students are encouraged to enrich their curriculum through a "semester away" experience with our partner school, School for Field Studies (SFS). SFS has exciting programs in Australia and New Zealand, Costa Rica, Kenya and Tanzania, Panama and the Turks and Caicos Islands that include integrated coursework and field research. Additional interesting courses are available at our consortium schools and in some of the other study abroad programs.

Prospective Environmental Studies majors with a strong interest in science should also explore the Biology major with an Environmental Studies minor. The Biology major may be more appropriate for students with an interest in pursuing graduate studies in environmental science. Students interested in environmental affairs should also consider whether they would be best served by a departmental (e.g. Economics, History, Political Science, Sociology) major with an Environmental Studies minor. The director of Environmental Studies can assist prospective Environmental Studies students in determining which combination of majors and minors best serves the students' academic interests and post graduate objectives.

Advanced Placement Credit: AP credits may be used for advanced placement in the Environmental Studies major but do not reduce the number of courses required. Students scoring a 4 or 5 on the AP Chemistry exam may opt to skip Chemistry 181 and take Chemistry 231 instead. Students scoring a 5 on the AP Environmental Science exam may skip Biology 117 and take an additional Environmental Studies elective. Students will forfeit their AP credit if they choose to take these courses instead. Because experiences in AP courses can vary, a student who is interested in using AP credits toward the ENVS major should contact the Environmental Studies program director to discuss her or his options before making a decision. AP credits cannot be applied toward the Environmental Studies minor.

The Environmental Studies Major

The Environmental Studies Major is a multidisciplinary program of study that involves a minimum of 14 courses. Each student tailors the major to his/her own interests and strengths within the major requirements, which are included below:

Majors must take the following 6 courses:

  1. BIOL 117  Environmental Science
  2. BIOL 163  Introduction to Biological Diversity and Ecology w/Lab
  3. CHEM 181 Atoms and Molecules w/Lab
  4. GEOS 150 Introduction to Geology w/Lab
  5. ECON 199 Principles of Economics (Prerequisite for Environmental Economics)
  6. ECON 224 Environmental Economics

Majors must also complete courses in each of the following categories:

7. One Environmental Politics or Policy Course

  • POLS 257 Politics of Development
  • POLS 285 Global Environmental Politics
  • POLS 286 Comparative Environmental Policy

8. One Environmental History or Philosophy Course

  • HIST 140 Nature and Society
  • HIST 230 Environmental History
  • PHIL 240 Environmental Ethics
  • PHIL 247 Environmental Political Philosophy

9. One upper level Geoscience or Biology course with a lab

  • BIOL 233 Freshwater Ecology w/Lab
  • BIOL 235 Marine Biology w/Lab
  • BIOL 250 Field Botany w/Lab
  • BIOL 280 General Ecology w/Lab
  • GEOS 210 Geomorphology w/Lab
  • GEOS 270 Watershed Hydrology w/Lab

10. One upper level Geoscience or Biology course (lab optional). Students may choose a second course under requirement 9 or one of the courses listed below:

  • BIOL 331 Ecosystem Ecology
  • BIOL 361 Toxicology
  • BIOL 381 Conservation Biology
  • GEOS 310 Paleoclimatology
  • GEOS 350 Oceanography

11. One upper level environmental social science, arts, or humanities course. Students may choose an additional course under requirements 2 or 3 or one of the courses listed below:

  • RELS 255  Ecology and Religion  
  • RELS 260 Comparative Mysticism and Human Ecology 
  • RELS 340 Gardens and World Religions
  • RELS 353 Theology and Ecology  
  • SOCL 210 Consumer and Corporate Sustainability
  • SOCL 236 Environmental Sociology
  • SOCL 238 Cities and Environment
  • VAHI 250 Making the Modern City
  • VAST 206 Drawn to Nature

12. One course with a major quantitative or spatial analysis component:

  • BIOL 275 Biological Statistics
  • ENVS 247 Introduction to Geographical Information Systems
  • GEOS 270 Watershed Hydrology w/Lab (if used for quantitative component then this course does not count for requirement 9 or 10 above)
  • MATH 220 Statistics

13 and 14. Two additional upper-level (200 or higher) ENVS courses in any discipline (categories 2-7 above). One of the upper level course requirements can be fulfilled by undergraduate research for academic credit with prior permission of the ENVS Director.

*Note that the numbering system for major requirements has changed from previous years; the requirements themselves remain unchanged.

*The courses listed above are regularly offered. Departments frequently offer additional courses that may be counted for ENVS credit. The director will publicize other courses and how they may be used to fulfill major requirements.

*Students may also use certain study abroad courses to fulfill major requirements with prior permission from the Environmental Studies director.

The Environmental Studies Minor

The Environmental Studies Minor is a multidisciplinary program of study that involves 7 courses. Each student tailors the minor to his/her own interests and strengths within the minor requirements. Students may apply for a Environmental Studies Minor in conjunction with any major. Once a minor has been declared, students will be given preferential placement in some environmental studies courses.

Students majoring in the natural sciences must take 4 courses in the social sciences, arts, and humanities and 3 courses in the natural sciences. Students majoring in the social sciences, arts, or humanities must take 4 courses in the natural sciences and 3 courses in the social sciences, arts, and humanities.

 Frequently Offered Social Science, Arts, and Humanities Courses:

  •  ECON 224 Environmental Economics
  •  HIST 140 Nature and Society
  •  HIST 230 Environmental History
  •  HIST 305 America’s First Global Age
  •  PHIL 240 Environmental Ethics
  •  PHIL 247 Environmental Political Philosophy
  •  POLS 257 Politics of Development
  •  POLS 285 Global Environmental Politics
  •  POLS 286 Comparative Environmental Policy
  •  RELS 340 Gardens and World Religions
  •  RELS 255 Ecology and Religion
  •  RELS 353 Theology and Ecology
  •  SOCL 210 Consumer and Corporate Sustainability
  •  SOCL 236 Environmental Sociology
  •  SOCL 238 Cities and Environment
  •  VAST 206 Drawn to Nature

Frequently Offered Natural Science Courses:

  • BIOL 114 Biological Principles: Plants and Human Affairs
  • BIOL 114 Biological Principles: Oceans and People
  • BIOL 117 Environmental Science
  • BIOL 163 Introduction to Biological Diversity and Ecology w/Lab
  • BIOL 233 Freshwater Ecology w/Lab
  • BIOL 235 Marine Biology w/Lab
  • BIOL 250 Field Botany
  • BIOL 280 General Ecology w/Lab
  • BIOL 331 Ecosystem Ecology
  • BIOL 361 Toxicology
  • BIOL 381 Conservation Biology
  • CHEM 141 Environmental Chemistry
  • CHEM 181 Atoms & Molecules w/Lab
  • ENVS 247 Geographical Information Systems
  • GEOS 140 Environmental Geology
  • GEOS 150 Introduction to Geology w/Lab
  • GEOS 210 Geomorphology w/lab
  • GEOS 270 Watershed Hydrology w/Lab
  • MATH 110 Topics in Mathematics: Environmental Mathematics
  • PHYS 115 Introductory Physics 1

*Students may also use study abroad courses and courses at other colleges and universities to fulfill minor requirements with prior permission from the director of Environmental Studies.

*The courses listed above are regularly offered. Departments frequently offer additional courses that may be counted for ENVS credit. The director will publicize other courses and how they may be used to fulfill minor requirements.

*Several Montserrat courses can be applied toward the Environmental Studies minor. Please contact the director for details.

Courses

ENVS 247 – Introduction to Geographic Information Systems
Introduces and explores the fundamental concepts of Geographic Information Systems. GIS technology combines computerized mapping and database management to implement maps on the computer. GIS is used in a diversity of fields ranging from archeology to zoology, some specific examples being anthropology, epidemiology, facilities management, forestry, geology, and business. Explains the structure and function of GISs, placing them in the context of computer information systems, cartography, and supporting disciplines such as remote sensing, and shows why and how GIS is important. Covers basic concepts such as map characteristics and projections, spatial data models, relational databases, and spatial analysis. Explores sources of data, data quality, and metadata. Implementation and management of GIS projects, choosing a GIS, and the application of GIS are presented. Examples and data sets are taken from the fields of ecology and environment biology. One unit.

   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   

Courses

Environmental Studies Courses

Environmental Studies
200
Environmental Law
Annually

Environmental law is controversial and fascinating. Consider some of these newspaper headlines: “Scientists Say Climate Heating Up,” “Pesticides Found in Local Groundwater,” “Endangered Salamander Stops Development.” Environmental law and policy are a part of everyday life. The challenges to environmental quality have a critical influence on where we live and how well we live and, most important, the kind of world in which our children and their children will live. One unit.

Environmental Studies
247
Introduction to Geographic Information Systems
Annually

Introduces and explores the fundamental concepts of Geographic Information Systems. GIS technology combines computerized mapping and database management to implement maps on the computer. GIS is used in a diversity of fields ranging from archaeology to zoology, some specific examples being anthropology, epidemiology, facilities management, forestry, geology, and business. Explains the structure and function of GISs, placing them in the context of computer information systems, cartography, and supporting disciplines such as remote sensing, and shows why and how GIS is important. Covers basic concepts such as map characteristics and projections, spatial data models, relational databases, and spatial analysis. Explores sources of data, data quality, metadata. Implementation and management of GIS projects, choosing a GIS, and the application of GIS are presented. Examples and data sets are taken from the fields of ecology and environment biology. One unit.