Environmental Problem Solving

Winter 2018 and Spring 2018 quarters

Taught by

ecology, vertebrate biology
political science, economics

It is a common misconception in environmentalism that if you can educate people about a problem, they will automatically take steps to solve it. In reality, environmental problem solving is much more complex. It requires a good grasp of the ecological system involved, the structure of government, and public policy as well as the ability to work effectively in groups.

In this program we will cover basic ecology, political science, economics, and statistics in order to provide students with the necessary background to understand environmental problems. We will look at ecosystem structure, community ecology, population biology, and some of the ways in which human activities impact ecological systems. In the political science component, students will learn about the structure of government at several different levels and the interaction of federal, state, and local government. We will take advantage of the proximity of the state legislature by attending committee meetings and observing the legislative process firsthand. Our focus will be on resource extraction and conservation in the Pacific Northwest, including timber harvest and fisheries, as we develop our toolbox of skills and concepts. Students will be able to explore other environmental issues in assignments and a project in spring quarter.

In winter quarter we will develop the core concepts in ecology, political science, and economics through lectures, seminars, workshops, and fieldwork and look at the strategies involved in environmental problem solving. Students will have the opportunity to develop skills necessary to work together in groups to solve problems. They will be introduced to some basic psychology in order to understand what they and others bring to these discussions. A series of workshops will introduce students to research design and statistical analysis. Spring quarter will continue to build on these concepts and use case studies and specific examples from the region to provide students with the opportunity to wrestle through the complexity of environmental problems. Students will also explore an environmental issue of their choice in a final project.

Program Details

Fields of Study

ecology economics government law and public policy political science

Preparatory For

environmental studies, environmental regulation, ecology, natural resource management, and public policy


Winter Open Spring Conditional

Location and Schedule

Final Schedule and Room Assignment

Campus Location


Time Offered


Online Learning

Enhanced Online Learning


$25 per quarter for entrance fees.