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Approved Courses

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

FALL Semester 2019

Category I: Social Sciences/Humanities/Arts

ECON 245 Environmental and Natural Resource Economics
This course uses economic theories and concepts to explore environmental and natural resource problems and evaluate policies for addressing them. Topics vary and may include energy, water, agriculture, sustainable development, environmental justice, and other timely issues.

ENG 191A & B Reading Literature: Science, Nature, and Technology
This course explores literature as a response to scientific and technological change. It considers the ways that new scientific discoveries inspire new visions in literature and the ways, in turn, that imaginative writing inspires new approaches in science. It features literary works that contextualize past scientific and technological advances, interpret and critique changes happening in the present, and imagine the changes that might occur in the future.

ENG 395A Literature and Theory: Advanced Topics: The Literary Anthropocene
In 2016, an international commission of geologists recommended that the scientific community recognize a new epoch in geologic history, an Anthropocene or "human epoch" distinguished by the predominant influence of human activity on planetary systems, including climate and the biosphere. While some argue that the Anthropocene begins with the agricultural revolution and others point to its genesis in the first nuclear weapons tests in 1945, consensus holds that sharply accelerated rates of population growth, deforestation, resource depletion, atmospheric and environmental pollution, and species extinction have created new conditions for life on Earth and altered the future course of civilization, perhaps catastrophically. In the same year that geologists moved to recognize the Anthropocene as a distinct epoch, novelist and essayist Amitav Ghosh, in The Great Derangement, called upon writers and literary scholars to respond with urgent intention toward the looming crisis of the Anthropocene, which he described as a tiger concealed in the jungle, preparing to leap. Following Ghosh, this course considers the emergent forms and purposes of literature in the new epoch. What part do writers play in describing life in the Anthropocene and framing our attitudes toward its changing conditions? What new narrative and poetic forms are taking shape? In turn, how is the literature of the Anthropocene adapting traditional archetypes and paradigms to an unprecedented moment? In our attempt to answer these questions, we will survey a range of contemporary poetry, fiction, and essays that seek to understand the predicaments, responsibilities, and destinies of humanity in the world we have created.

HIST 100C Mythbusting Tropical Nature - A Global Environmental History
This seminar uses history to challenge three widespread myths about tropical nature and the people who live there. Together we will explore the complicated reality behind the myths of primeval wilderness, a looming 'population bomb,' and the idea that peasants are ignorant of the world around them. Each of the myths examined appear in twenty-first century policy debates over environmental conservation, but each has deep roots that often trace back to times and places far removed from the contemporary tropical world. These myths are closely related, playing off of and reinforcing each other. In this class, we will explore why these myths have proven so resilient, despite repeatedly being revealed as untrue or misleading, and how their use serves to redirect attention away from the role played by outsiders in altering and degrading tropical ecosystems. By the end of the class, students will be equipped to spot these myths for what they are and use the tools of history to challenge them. 

PHIL 232 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.

UNIV 290 Topics: Dig In! Alternative Agriculture, Foodways, and Justice
This course offers students the opportunity to build their knowledge-base about alternative agricultural practices and foodways. Alternative agricultural practices such as agroecology, biointensive gardening, and permaculture apply ecological concepts and principles to designing and managing sustainable agricultural systems. Foodways is an interdisciplinary concept that refers to the cultural and economic practices involved in the production and consumption of food. Students will explore alternative agricultural practices through experiential learning projects at DePauw's Ullem Campus Farm and Center for Sustainability..

Category II: Natural 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 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 101 and BIO 102, 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 117 Weather, Climate, and Climate Change
An introduction to the Earth's atmosphere through the study of weather, climate and climate change. Topics covered include atmospheric composition,structure and function, weather phenomena and climate, and natural and human-induced climate change. Global societal responses to rapid climate change are also discussed.

GEOS 125 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 190 Energy and the Environment
An introduction to energy resources and the environmental impacts of their use. The importance of nonrenewable fossil fuels in modern industrialized societies is examined and the effects of changing rates and costs of energy production on modern lifestyles are explored. The potential economic costs and societal impacts of transitioning to renewable and sustainable sources of energy are discussed.

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.

GEOS 380 Environmental Geophysics
Includes laboratory. Application of geophysical techniques to solving problems in geology, with emphasis on their applicability in environmental and exploration investigations. Course provides basic theory, field methods and interpretation techniques for seismic refraction/reflection, magnetic, gravitational, and electrical methods of geophysical prospecting. Outdoor work required. Prerequisites: GEOS 110 or permission of instructor. MATH 135 proficiency and PHYS 120 recommended.

First-Year Seminars

Biology Writing
The U.S. National Academy of Sciences recently identified four areas of critical need for the next several decades: sustainable food production, protection of ecosystems in the face of global change, development of renewable energy, and improvement in individual human health. Each of these crucial issues relates directly to understanding biological patterns and processes. To collaborate on solving these problems, scientists and the general public need to engage with each other. Scientists need to write clearly about complex, interdisciplinary topics for a general audience; meanwhile, community members must learn to read scientific texts with confident minds and critical eyes. And all of us need to consider what roles science communication should play in our collective pursuit of equity, justice, and sustainability in society. In this first-year writing seminar, we will approach texts from the popular press and from the scientific literature that will hep us learn about food production, human health, environmental conservation, and more. We will write clear, concise, precise, and creative prose exploring these texts, and practice ways to present data in ways that can inform and engage our communities. As a final project, students will have an opportunity to read and write about biological topics relevant to their own lives.

Campus Sustainability 101
In a finite world, the needs of our ever-growing population and rampant consumption strain the resources of the earth and threaten the environment. Due to their complex and global nature, modern environmental problems like climate change, water scarcity, or mass extinctions can be overwhelming and really, really scary. Many individuals who care about both other people and the planet around them are left wondering: "what am I to do?" Fortunately, the practice of sustainability - which balances the needs of people today with those of people in the future - can provide solutions to these challenging problems.

This seminar will explore both the theoretical concepts explicit in different definitions of sustainability as well as consider how to put these ideas into practice. Because there is no universally accepted definition of sustainability, students will critically examine crucial ideas central to the concept of "sustain" (as in "to make last") through readings and discussion to ultimately build a class definition over the course of the semester. Examples of these ideas include: markers of environmental quality; the role of social justice; and organizational principles of systems thinking. The seminar also includes an applied aspect in which students will be able to incorporate sustainability practices into their own lives while also learning about how to participate in positive change at a local, regional, and even global scale.

Whether you take it as a blessing or a curse, there can be no doubt that we live during interesting times. One thing that sets DePauw graduates apart, though, is their ability to think critically, creatively, and compassionately, and therefore do what needs to be done. As the foundation of a DePauw education, this seminar will both challenge and support students in a balance that will help them grow into the person they want to be. 

Climate Change and Philosophy
Climate change poses significant philosophical problems. For example, it poses problems in epistemology or the theory of knowledge: what do we know about climate and how do we know it? How do we explain the gulf between the scientific "consensus" on climate change and public skepticism? And so on. Moreover, it raises problems about who we are (e.g., what responsibilities do we have and why?) and what it means to be an educated person in the 21st century. Can we learn to imagine living well yet sustainably, what will we need to know in order to live well in a climate changed world? The course will introduce students to research from a wide range of fields in both the physical and social sciences and responses to the climate crisis of many forms. But our primary focus throughout will be on climate as posing existential questions each of us needs to grapple with: who am I and what should I do given the world as it is?