Introduction to Environmental Studies

Fall 2019
Winter 2020
Freshman - Senior
Class Size: 50
16 Credits per quarter
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This program serves as an introduction to the field of environmental studies, which is an interdisciplinary and mission-oriented field that uses natural sciences, earth sciences, and social sciences as well as humanities to understand and address current environmental challenges. We will engage in a variety of hands-on learning activities including field trips, case studies and research projects, plus workshops, labs, lectures, and seminars—all with the central goal of advancing students' ability to think critically and in-depth about environmental challenges and solutions. 

Fall quarter will explore foundational concepts, combining environmental social sciences, ecology, and earth sciences.  These concepts will include understanding interconnected social-ecological-physical systems, environmental justice, indigenous knowledge systems, biocultural diversity, population biology and demography. You'll learn physical geology and become familiar with geologic materials, processes and time.  This will allow a deeper understanding of the environmental geology topics covered in winter quarter.  Interpreting and analyzing numerical data will be emphasized. Labs and field trips will allow us the opportunity to collect data and apply theory. We'll learn to understand environmental problems as the interplay of physical and biological processes with social factors such as history, culture, political economy, power differentials, and social inequity. You'll also develop skills in analytical writing as practiced in the social, natural, and earth sciences. Readings will include both classic and contemporary environmental texts, scientific articles, and fictional treatments of environmental issues.

Winter quarter continues exploring local, regional, and global environmental issues and the environmental and cultural history of the Pacific Northwest. Environmental geology, which includes natural hazards, resource extraction, and climate change, will be covered. GIS labs will develop and strengthen skills in analyzing and displaying spatial data. We will study efforts to promote sustainable development and, through the use of political ecology, examine how the integration of social, natural, and earth sciences can lead to solutions that promote environmental quality and social justice. You will be challenged to apply and more fully develop the skills and knowledge introduced in the fall through research projects focusing on critical environmental problems and associated solutions, with an emphasis on effective communication with audiences that hold different viewpoints.


Fall 2019 Registration

Course Reference Numbers

Fr (16): 10102
So - Sr (16): 10105
Fr - Sr (1 - 16): 10424
Winter 2020 Registration

Course Reference Numbers

Fr (16): 20039
So - Sr (16): 20040
(1 - 16): 20510

Academic details

Preparatory For

preparation for more advanced environmental studies and related fields of natural and social science

Maximum Enrollment
Class Standing

$300 fee for an extended field trip to the Columbia Basin during Fall quarter.


In Person or Remote
Remote (F)
Remote (W)
Time Offered
Schedule Evergreen link
see Schedule Evergreen for detailed schedule

First Meeting

Purce Hall 5 - Classroom