Introduction to Environmental Studies: Oceans, Climate Change, and Northwest Coastal Tribes

Fall 2023
Freshman - Sophomore
Class Size: 46
14 Credits per quarter
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This program will examine how an interdisciplinary approach combining natural and social sciences can be used to understand current environmental problems and to craft effective solutions to these problems.

The program will apply concepts from ecology, oceanography, and political-cultural geography to study the climate crisis in the Pacific Northwest and the responses by coastal tribal nations exercising their sovereignty and treaty rights. We will develop an understanding of how marine waters of the Pacific Northwest support diverse and productive habitats, and how human activities and climate change impact these ecosystems by promoting harmful algal blooms, ocean acidification, eutrophication, sea-level rise, and species shifts.

We will examine responses led by Native nations, such as salmon habitat restoration, building climate resilience, removing dams, dikes, and culverts, resisting fossil fuel projects, and planning for sea-level rise and climate-related disasters. The process of building partnerships between tribal and non-tribal governments, and developing “unlikely alliances” between tribal rights-holders and their neighbors, will be examined as essential elements in developing effective responses to the climate crisis.

Students will engage with the material through lectures, labs, seminars, guest speakers, films, workshops, field trips, written assignments, and a research project and presentation. Students will develop skills in writing, research, synthesizing information, and public speaking. The “Follow the Water” research project will focus on case studies of watersheds, estuaries, the Salish Sea, and Pacific Ocean coast, to examine the rich connections among organisms and communities. The class will take day trips to Salish Sea tribes such as Nisqually, and possibly a multi-day field trip to coastal tribes such as Quinault, Quileute, and Makah.


Fall 2023 Registration

Academic details

Preparatory for studies and careers in

Studies or careers in Environmental studies, Climate resilience, Marine biology, Ecological restoration, Native Studies, Geography, Planning

Maximum Enrollment
Class Standing

$225 for a Multiday field trip to Quinault, Quileute, and Makah nations on Olympic Peninsula Coast


In Person or Remote
In Person
Time Offered
Schedule Evergreen link
see Schedule Evergreen for detailed schedule