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Approved Courses

Each semester, the Environmental Fellows steering committee evaluates the University's course offerings and selects courses that meet the program criteria.

For more details on the program's coursework requirements, please see the handbook.

For students who intend to pursue an environmental career as a graduate, the following are additional recommended courses that would be helpful, but do not count toward the course requirements for the Environmental Fellows Program.

  • One or more courses in chemistry (CHEM 120, CHEM 130, CHEM 170)
  • A course on statistics (BIO 275, ECON 350, MATH 141, PSY 214, SOC 401)

Click here to see past approved courses.

Fall Semester 2014

Category I: Social Sciences/Humanities/Arts

COM 210A Performance Studies I: Theater and the Natural Environment
Students will delve into topics of theater, performance, history, and anthropology related to Environmental Studies, including plays, films, historical studies, and memoirs. The students will study plays and performances that illustrate how a people's connection to their natural environment forms the values and relationships. These readings will be supported by performance theory from each of the traditions. We will trace the history of performance globally, to understand how theater and performance reflected changing attitudes of the societies from which they sprung. The course will also investigate areas where there could be crossover with other arts related to nature, such as Romantic painting and nature writing. By examining theater pieces from different times and cultures, the student will understand how personal decisions in specific social contexts added up to create our current state of environmental awareness (and lack thereof). The overarching thesis of the course is that we can choose to nurture an empathetic and healthy relationship with our natural environment.

ENG 322A Creative Non-Fiction Writing Topics: Nature Writing
Creative nonfiction, like fiction or poetry, is a type of creative writing. As such, it uses the tools of the creative writer: figurative language (similes, metaphors), dialogue, flashbacks, scenes, frames - in short, tools that increase the dramatic effect of a piece of writing. Various types of creative nonfiction exist: personal essays, articles, travel accounts, profiles, memoirs and narrative histories. We will read quite a bit to gain a sense of the genre and its possibilities. Class discussions over the reading material should provide insight into your own writing options. But, as a writing course, much of our class time will be spent workshopping the written work of your peers. Not everything you write will be workshopped; some projects you will want to keep fairly private. Creative nonfiction tends to be misunderstood, even though it is growing in popularity and scope. My main objective in this course is to expose students to the genre and give them practical experience writing it.
Writing in any genre will often require you to capture and present the natural world. For example, a character in a novel who lives on a ranch in Wyoming and raises cattle lives a daily existence with almost no line between artificial and natural, and the writing must make every natural event believable to the reader. Even the act of writing a poem about a snowstorm requires a poet with some sense of the outside world. In this class, you will write essays, profiles, travel pieces and articles about the natural world. We can interpret "nature" loosely - after all, there are no clear boundaries between civilization and nature.

ENG 392A Topics: Environmental Crisis Narratives
This course explores the nexus of apocalyptic belief, literary imagination, and contemporary environmental crisis. In a selection of fables, memoirs, scientific nonfiction, and speculative fiction, we will survey the cultural origins, formal elements, and variations of what has emerged as the dominant narrative of the human future. In the broadest sense, this narrative describes anthropogenic disequilibrium in the planetary ecosystem. Although secular in its vision, the story of environmental crisis draws its rhetorical and emotional force from millennialist tradition, synthesizing eschatology with modern science. Projections of deforestation, resource depletion, pollution, the loss of biodiversity, climate change and consequent social and political upheavals function as apocalyptic myth, orienting the present "anthropocene" moment to the totality of history, and drawing past transgressions into concord with future retribution and renewal. The course does not seek to debunk narratives of environmental crisis as figments of the imagination but rather to discover the cultural roots of these narratives and to reach a deeper understanding of the historical and literary dimensions of contemporary environmentalism.

PHIL 232A Environmental Ethics
An examination of the extent of, limits to, and grounds for individual and collective moral obligations with respect to the 'more-than-human world.' Discusses anthropocentric, zoocentric, biocentric and ecocentric value theories; ecofeminist, deep ecology, and environmental justice perspectives; and/or such topics as biodiversity, climate change, sustainable agriculture, and/or ethics of consumption. This course may include a community engagement/service learning project and required field trips.

POLS 390B Tps: Pol Economy Global Environment

This seminar focuses on the ways in which international economic processes shape global environmental governance. The first half of the course is a survey of global political economy, with a specific focus on the environment. Topics will include (1) the environmental consequences of current patterns of consumption, (2) the effect of international trade on global environmental issues, (3) the influence of foreign direct investment on environmental regulation (is there a "race to the bottom" in environmental regulation?), (4) the compatibility of environmental protection and economic growth, (5) whether current understandings of sustainable development are tenable, and (6) the effect of development finance on the environment.
We then examine a number of specific topics in greater detail, including (1) the political economy of the international climate regime, (2) the effectiveness of corporate self- governance (e.g., corporate social responsibility), (3) the use of market mechanisms to promote environmentally-beneficial behavior (e.g., eco-labelling), and (4) the conditions under which corporate interests can or cannot be harnessed to promote environmentally- beneficial outcomes.
This course has no formal prerequisites, though previous coursework in international politics, international trade, international development, and environmental politics may be helpful. Preference will be given to third- and fourth-year political science majors.

WS 370A Feminist Approaches to the Environment
Feminist Approaches to Environmentalism explores the work of artists, activists, and scholars; we will learn how women and men have been at the forefront of struggles to reclaim their homes, communities and lands from patriarchal and (neo)colonial oppression. We consider how ecological narratives and practices are constructed at the intersections of gendered, raced, classed, and sexual identities and we will develop our own ecological narratives as we work our way through this complex terrain. Topics include: ecofeminism, environmental racism and the environmental justice movement, queer ecologies, food politics, ecological economies, and eco-spiritual traditions. By the end of the semester, you will be able to map some of the key debates in these fields and determine your own beliefs about philosophies and best practices for social-environmental justice. This class is interdisciplinary and welcomes students from a variety of experiential and disciplinary backgrounds to make the course rich!

Category II: Sciences

BIO 102 Evolution, Organisms, and Ecology
Includes laboratory. An introduction to the principles and practice of evolutionary biology, population genetics, and ecology. Students will examine topics in natural selection, the modern synthesis, speciation, phylogeny, primary productivity and ecological efficiency.

BIO 190 Environmental Biology
Students interested in environmental science and environmental studies need to have an understanding of the ways that the biosphere functions. How are the populations regulated? How can interspecies interactions maintain the integrity of biological communities? What factors control energy flow through ecosystems? The answers to all of these ecological questions are important to anyone wanting to understand and regulate the effects that human activities have on ecosystems. The goal of Environmental Biology is to give students a basic understanding of the field of ecology as well as some hands-on experience at field biology research. There are no prerequisites other than a desire to explore and understand the biosphere.

BIO 342 Ecology
Includes laboratory. The study of interrelationships between organisms and their environment, emphasizing fundamental concepts in ecology, natural history of local habitats and organisms, the process of ecological research, and current issues of interest in ecology. Prerequisites: BIO 135 and 145, or permission of instructor.

GEOS 110 Earth and the Environment
Includes laboratory. An introduction to the materials that make up the earth and the interplay between constructive and destructive processes that shape the earth, including plate tectonics. Laboratories include mineral and rock identification, field trips, and topographic map interpretation.

GEOS 110 Earth and the Environment
Includes laboratory. An introduction to the materials that make up the earth and the interplay between constructive and destructive processes that shape the earth, including plate tectonics. Laboratories include mineral and rock identification, field trips, and topographic map interpretation.

GEOS 125A Introduction to Environmental Science
An introduction to the study of environmental science. Topics include matter, energy, ecosystems, human populations, natural resources, and the impact of human activity on the natural environment. Special attention is given to current environmental problems including air and water pollution, acid rain, stratospheric ozone depletion, climate change, deforestation, and species extinctions.

GEOS 230 Environmental Geology
An intermediate examination of the processes that influence the physical and chemical nature of the Earth's surface with special attention given to the influence of human actions on the lithosphere, hydrosphere, and atmosphere. Students learn how the risks from natural hazards are assessed and minimized; understand the consequences of natural resource extraction; and consider the sources, transportation, fate, and remediation of waste and pollution in the environment. Real-world examples emphasize the importance of these topics for solving environmental problems. Prerequisite: GEOS 110 or permission of instructor.