Introduction to Environmental Studies


Fall 2015 and Winter 2016 quarters

Taught by

geography, environmental studies

This two-quarter program is designed to introduce the interdisciplinary field of environmental studies. This field employs the tools of natural and social sciences as well as the humanities to understand and effectively address the enormous environmental challenges of this generation. The program will use a variety of teaching styles, including field trips, films, guest speakers, case study and research projects, as well as lectures and seminars on a wide array of critical environmental issues. Readings will include classics of environmental literature that have inspired and informed citizens for generations, notable contemporary books in the field, textbooks, scientific articles, and a novel. A central goal of this program is to advance students' ability to think critically and in-depth about environmental challenges and solutions. The program will expose students to the following range of topics: climate change; pollutants in our air, freshwater, oceans, and soils; the mass extinction of species; sustainability and sustainable development; ecological restoration; environmental justice; protected areas; sustainable energy; human population and the environment; science and advocacy; and threats to Puget Sound, along with efforts to protect it.

Focusing on ecosystems and environmental issues in the Pacific Northwest, the fall quarter will emphasize development of the skills and tools necessary to pursue environmental studies at a more advanced level. This means instruction and practice in using the following: systems-thinking; the principles of population, community, ecosystem, and landscape ecology; ornithology; the study of landscapes and soundscapes; urban ecology; social science principles essential for understanding sustainability and conservation; field research methods; introductory quantitative and qualitative analytical methods; and the general nature of biogeochemical cycles. Emphasis will also be placed on developing skill in analytical writing as practiced in the social and natural sciences, based on research using library databases of peer-reviewed journal articles, and demonstrating competency in formatting citations and references.

The winter quarter will take a more global perspective on environmental studies. Students will be challenged to apply and more fully develop the skills and knowledge introduced in the fall quarter through in-depth research projects on critical environmental problems and associated solutions. Lectures and seminars will expose students to a more advanced and in-depth examination of critical environmental problems and solutions around the world.

Program Details

Fields of Study

Preparatory for studies or careers in

environmental studies, sustainability, natural history, environmental advocacy, environmental justice, environmental regulation, ecology, natural resource management and public policy, ecological restoration, conservation, and climate impacts analysis.

Location and Schedule

Campus location



Offered during: Day

Advertised schedule: First winter class meeting : Tuesday, January 5 at 9am (Sem II D1105)


Buy books for this program through Greener Bookstore.

Online Learning

Enhanced Online Learning: Access to web-based tools required, but use of these tools does not displace any face-to-face instruction.


Date Revision
April 13th, 2015 Krishna Chowdary joins the team winter quarter.
February 24th, 2015 Rob Cole joins the teaching team fall quarter.

Registration Information

Credits: 16 (Fall); 16 (Winter)

Class standing: Freshmen–Senior; 25% of the seats are reserved for freshmen

Maximum enrollment: 72


Course Reference Numbers

Fr (16 credits): 10098
So - Sr (16 credits): 10101

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Accepting New Students

Signature Required

Students must have a working knowledge of systems and resilience thinking, climate science, ecology and social sciences.  Interested students must contact faculty before end of fall quarter to discuss their qualifications and receive information about the makeup reading in order to be prepared for winter quarter.

Course Reference Numbers

Fr (16 credits): 20048
So - Sr (16 credits): 20049

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