Environmental Studies

http://www.stolaf.edu/depts/environmental-studies/

Chair, 2013-14: Paul Jackson (Chemistry), green chemistry, environmental chemistry, water quality

Faculty, 2013-14: Mark Allister (English), American literature, writing; Diane Angell (Biology), ecology and animal behavior; Seth Binder (Economics), sustainable development, valuation of ecosystem change, development economics; Dan Hofrenning (Political Science), American politics, public policy; Rebecca Judge (Economics), environment and public policy; Tony Lott (Political Science), global environmental law; Kristina MacPherson (Library and Asian Studies), reference librarian, environmental education; Donna McMillan (Psychology), environmental psychology (on leave); Matt Rohn (Art and Art History), visual culture; John Schade (Biology, Environmental Studies), biogeochemistry, ecology (on leave); Kathleen Shea (Biology), ecology, restoration and sustainable agriculture; Michael Swift (Biology), aquatic ecology; Charles Taliaferro (Philosophy), philosophy of religion, ethics; Charles Umbanhowar, Jr (Biology), paleoecology, grassland ecology

Environmental studies explores the relationships between natural systems, the political issues of power, justice, liberty and equality, as well as ethics, philosophy, art, culture, and literature. The result is an all-important interdisciplinary view of environmental issues and insights into understanding environmental complexity that call one to action. Addressing environmental concerns and investigating questions of environmental significance require a comprehensive and rigorous understanding of the relationship between humans and their environment, including a sense of place. Practitioners achieve this understanding through the intersection of knowledge and expertise from the natural and social sciences, and arts and humanities, as applied to the study of the intellectual and physical connections that define humanity's role in the environment. Ultimately the program strives to contribute to an understanding of biological and physical processes, responsible policy and practice, imaginative thinking, and ethical reflection spanning local and global communities.

OVERVIEW OF THE MAJOR

Environmental studies combines the strengths of disciplinary work in contributing departments with interdisciplinary studies, giving both broad and focused perspectives on environmental problems, issues and solutions. The program offers a major with three tracks in which students choose to focus their work: natural sciences, social sciences, and arts and humanities. In many cases work in these tracks overlaps with traditional departmental curricula, and students choose to complete a second major there. Recognizing the global dimensions of numerous environmental problems and the need for learning outside of the classroom, the program provides a number of opportunities for studies abroad and in the field.

All students majoring in environmental studies take twelve required courses including an introductory course that emphasizes the interdisciplinary nature of environmental questions and lays the groundwork for the major.  A capstone senior seminar course challenges students to integrate and apply what they have learned throughout their studies.  Each major must participate in an experience that applies basic knowledge in a setting beyond the classroom. Typically this takes the form of an off-campus environmental studies course/program, internship, or research project.  Students wishing to count courses not specifically designated as satisfying requirements for the major should consult the chair prior to enrollment.

The department offers a concentration in environmental studies for students wishing to complement another major with a suite of courses focused on the environment.

INTENDED LEARNING OUTCOMES FOR THE MAJOR

REQUIREMENTS FOR THE MAJOR

1. Environmental Studies 137: Introduction to Environmental Studies
2. Senior Capstone: Environmental Studies 399 : Seminar in Environmental Studies
3. Experiential Component:

All students majoring or concentrating in environmental studies participate in an experience that applies basic knowledge in a setting beyond the classroom. This may be one of the off-campus environmental studies courses/programs, or an internship, or a research project approved by the chair. Guidelines and a set of approved courses are available from the chair and are posted on the department Web site. Unless permission is granted by the chair, a course may not count for more than one requirement in the major.

TRACKS IN THE ENVIRONMENTAL STUDIES MAJOR
Natural Science

The natural science track seeks to give students a broad exposure to the range of problems encountered by scientists working in environmental fields and the investigative tools they use, while providing a solid foundation for further study in one of the contributing disciplines. Students planning careers in environmental science are strongly urged to consider an additional major in biology or chemistry. Ten courses are required in addition to the introductory and capstone courses specified above:

  • Two social science courses: Environmental Studies 232 or 281/381 (when taught with social science focus and approved by the chair); Environmental Studies/Political Science 201, 225, 276; Economics 242, Political Science 221 (Environmental Science in Australia), Psychology 227, Sociology/Anthropology 222 (Environmental Science in Australia), Sociology/Anthropology 297.
  • Two arts and humanities courses: Environmental Studies 202, 222, 270, or 281/381 (when taught with arts and humanities focus and approved by the chair); History 245, 275; Philosophy 257, or English 276.
  • One statistics modeling and mapping course: Environmental Studies 255, Statistics 212, or Statistics 272.
  • One intermediate chemistry course: Chemistry 248/254 or Chemistry 255/256.
  • One intermediate ecology course: Biology 261 or Biology 226 (Environmental Science in Australia)
  • Two environmental science courses: Environmental Studies 123, 245, 255, or 281/381 (when taught with natural science focus and approved by the chair); Biology/Environmental Studies 226, 228, 286, 320, 350; Biology 224 (Environmental Science in Australia), or Biology/Chemistry 391 (when taught with environmental science focus and approved by the chair). One of these two courses must carry Environmental Science Departmental designation.
  • One level III course in environmental science: Environmental Studies 381( when taught with natural science focus and approved by the chair); Biology/Environmental Studies 320, 350; Biology 371, or Biology/Chemistry 391 (when taught with environmental science focus and approved by the chair).
Social Science

The social science track seeks to provide students with a broad exposure to the methods and models employed by social scientists working in the environmental field. In addition to the introductory and capstone courses (specified above), students select ten additional courses from the following groups:

  • Two natural science courses: Environmental Studies 123, 245, 255, or 281/381 (when taught with natural science focus and approved by the chair); Biology/Environmental Studies 226, 228, 286, 320, 350; Biology 224 (Environmental Science in Australia), Biology 226 (Environmental Science in Australia) or 261, Chemistry 124, 255/256, or Biology/Chemistry 391 (when taught with environmental science focus and approved by the chair). One of these courses must carry Environmental Studies departmental designation.
  • Two arts and humanities courses: Environmental Studies 202, 222, 270, or 281/381 (when taught with arts and humanities focus and approved by chair); History 245, 275; Philosophy 257, or English 276.
  • One methodological analysis course: Environmental Studies 255; Statistics 110, 212, 263, 272; Sociology/Anthropology 371; Psychology 230; Political Science 220.
  • Two economic analysis courses: Economics 121 (or Economics 110-120) and Economics 242.
  • One environmental political policy and institutions course: Environmental Studies 232 or Environmental Studies/Political Science 201 or 276.
  • Two social science electives: Environmental Studies 232 or 281/381 (if taught with social science emphasis and approved by the chair), Environmental Studies/Political Science 201, 225, 276; Economics 243; Psychology 227; Political Science 221 (Environmental Science in Australia); Sociology/Anthropology 297, Sociology/Anthropology 222 (Environmental Science in Australia); Interdisciplinary Studies 234.
Arts and the Humanities

The arts and humanities track requires ten courses in addition to the introductory and capstone courses.

  • Two natural science courses: Environmental Studies 123, 245, 255, or 281/381 (when taught with Natural Science focus and approved by the chair); Biology/Environmental Studies 226, 228, 286, 320, 350; Biology 224 (Environmental Science in Australia), Biology 226 (Environmental Science in Australia) or 261, Chemistry 124, 255/256, or Biology/Chemistry 391 when taught with environmental science focus and approved by the chair. One of these courses must carry Environmental Studies department designation.
  • Two social science courses: Environmental Studies 232 or 281/381 (when taught with social science focus and approved by the chair); Environmental Studies/Political Science 201, 225, 276; Economics 242, Political Science 221(Environmental Science in Australia), Psychology 227, Sociology/Anthropology 222 (Environmental Science in Australia).
  • Five level II courses in the arts and humanities: Environmental Studies 202, 222, 270, or 281/381 (when taught with arts and humanities focus and approved by the chair); History 245, 275; Philosophy 257; English 276.
  • One level III topics course in arts and humanities: Environmental Studies 381 or a level III course in another department if taught with an environmental studies arts and humanities focus and approved by the Chair.
REQUIREMENTS FOR THE CONCENTRATION

The environmental studies concentration draws upon the disciplinary strengths of a traditional major and a set of courses focused on the environment. Students may utilize environmental studies-related upper-level courses within their own discipline to complete requirements of the concentration if the courses have a significant component that addresses environmental concerns. Unless permission is granted by the chair, a course may not count for more than one requirement in the concentration. Successful completion of at least 6 courses with a grade of C or better are required.

  1. Environmental Studies 137
  2. One natural science course: Environmental Studies 123, 245, 255, or 281/381 (when taught with natural science focus and approved by the chair); Biology/Environmental Studies 226, 228, 286, 320, 350; Biology 224 (Environmental Science in Australia), Biology 226 (Environmental Science in Australia) or 261, Chemistry 124, 255/256, or Biology/Chemistry 391 (when taught with environmental science focus and approved by the chair).
  3. One social science course: Environmental Studies 232 or 281/381 (when taught with social science focus and approved by the chair); Environmental Studies/Political Science 201, 225, 276 ; Economics 242, Political Science 221 (Environmental Science in Australia), Psychology 227. Sociology/Anthropology 222 (Environmental Science in Australia), Sociology/Anthropology 297.
  4. One arts and humanties course: Environmental Studies 202, 222, 270 or Environmental Studies 281/381 (when taught with arts and humanities focus and approved by the chair); History 245, 275; Philosophy 257, or English 276.
  5. Electives: Students choose two additional environmental studies courses from among those listed above for the major. This may (but need not) include the senior seminar. Elective courses from other departments must have a significant component that addresses environmental concerns, but they need not have environmental issues as their exclusive focus. For some electives, students may be required to negotiate specific assignments with the instructor and the chair to receive credit toward the concentration.
EXPERIENTIAL COMPONENT

All students majoring or concentrating in environmental studies participate in an experience that applies basic knowledge in a setting beyond the classroom. This may be one of the off-campus environmental studies courses/programs, or an internship, or a research project approved by the chair. Guidelines and a set of approved courses are available from the chair and are posted on the environmental studies Web site.

DISTINCTION

SPECIAL PROGRAMS

A number of off-campus programs include an internship or independent study component in which students may elect to focus on environmental issues. Students must consult with the environmental studies chair in planning their programs and must receive approval before counting work from off-campus programs toward an environmental studies major or concentration. The programs listed below have a substantial focus in environmental studies and will generally satisfy environmental studies requirements:

  • Biology in South India
  • Environmental Science in Australia
  • Field Research in the Environment, Social Sciences and Humanities (ACM in Costa Rica)
  • Washington Semester in International Environment and Development (American University)
  • Wilderness Field Station (Coe College)
COURSES

Because of their interdisciplinary character, environmental studies courses are quite appropriate for students seeking to fulfill general education requirements. The introductory course, Environmental Studies 137, serves many students in the IST area, and other environmental studies courses generally fulfill one or more of the general education requirements.

123 Geophysics: Perspectives on the Dynamic Earth

This course considers a variety of topics in earth and environmental science. Beginning with the origin of the earth and planetary system, the course examines crustal evolution and plate tectonics, geologic resources and hazards, and the relationship of these surface phenomena to processes occurring in the earth's interior. It concludes with a study of the oceans, the atmosphere, the earth's climate system, and environmental change. Prerequisite: proficiency in algebra and geometry. Offered annually. Counts toward environmental studies major (all tracks) and concentration.

137 Introduction to Environmental Studies

This interdisciplinary course uses basic concepts of environmental science to explore global environmental issues. Topics are drawn from recent texts and current periodic literature, and participants will recognize many of the themes from coverage in the media. Because most environmental problems involve issues beyond the sciences, the class examines the economic, political, and ethical dimensions of environmental questions and environmental decision-making. Offered each semester.

Environmental Studies/Political Science 201: Global Environmental Politics

Population growth, industrialization, and the consumption of fossil fuels have increased global environmental problems. The course examines the ways in which nation-states and/or international institutions have addressed these environmental concerns. Depending on the instructor, the focus of the course is either the environmental problems of a particular area (e.g., Latin America, Russia or Asia) or a broader global arena (e.g., international institutions and the environment). Offered alternate years.

202 The Culture of Nature

This American environmental history course explores the social construction of nature in the 20th century, looking at the roots (both natural and cultural) of contemporary environmental issues. To figure out what nature means to us now, students study the history of stuff, the culture of grasslands and lawns, the changing character of the city and the country, the nature of the suburbs, the conservation and preservation movements, different energy ecologies, the nature of TV, the contemporary environmental movement, and alternative ecological practices. They also use the St. Olaf campus as a case study of environmental design. Offered annually. Counts toward American studies major.

222 Campus Ecology

This course explores key concepts of ecology, focusing explicitly on the ideal of ecological sustainability for the St. Olaf campus. Students attend both to contemporary environmental issues and to the ideas and institutions that shape human resource use. Working groups research topics such as curriculum, clothes, cars, water, waste, food, energy, procurement, and landscape in the context of American religious and environmental values. Offered annually. Counts toward American studies major.

Environmental Studies/Political Science 225: Environmental Political Theory

This course examines relations between conceptions of "nature" and political issues of power, justice, liberty, and equality; and it explores theoretical foundations from which ecologically grounded institutions, policies, and political understandings arise. The course attends to issues currently being addressed by international green political theorists, including "ecological citizenship" and "green democracy." Offered alternate years.

Biology/Environmental Studies 226: Conservation Biology

Conservation biology focuses on the study of biological diversity. Students examine why we should be concerned about the number and types of species on earth, what factors threaten the survival of species and how we can conserve them. Using principles of ecology and evolution, with input from other disciplines, students gain a better understanding of the impact of humans on biodiversity and the importance of responsible environmental decision-making. Offered annually.

Biology/Environmental Studies 228: Environmental Health

Human health is affected by the biological environment, a teeming world of parasites and diseases, and the physical environment -- the water, air, and landscapes that we inhabit. Human interactions with the environment have changed rapidly, as human populations grow, travel increases, and ecosystems are altered. This course touches upon traditional environmental topics such as air and water quality, and integrates newer public health challenges such as emerging diseases and food-borne illnesses. Prerequisite: an introductory science course.

232 Environmental Policy and Regulation

This course analyzes environmental regulation in the United States with respect to its historical evolution, its ability to achieve environmental targets, its efficiency or cost-effectiveness, its distributional impact on jobs, people, and industries across the country, and its international ramifications. Class meetings include open discussions with individuals from agencies charged with developing and enforcing environmental regulation. Offered annually.

245 Global Climate Change

This course is an interdisciplinary seminar on climate throughout the earth's history, including recent changes caused by humankind. It examines the climate system in the larger framework of planetary evolution and explores evidence from the geologic record for climates of the past. Using current scientific literature, students investigate causes of climate change and consider scenarios for future climate based on models incorporating alternative global development strategies. Prerequisites: sophomore standing; one level 1 biology, chemistry, or physics course or Environmental Studies 137 strongly encouraged. Offered annually.

255 Remote Sensing and Geographic Information Systems

Remote sensing and GIS are increasingly used to address basic and applied questions in the environmental sciences and a host of other disciplines. Students survey available remote sensing image types and learn to process (ground-truthing, GPS, scanning, digitizing) and interpret remotely sensed images. They also learn theory and practice of geographic information systems (basic cartography and spatial statistics). A weekly three-hour laboratory is required. Prerequisites: Environmental Studies 137 or a level I course in biology, chemistry, or physics. Offered annually.

270 Nature and American Landscapes

This seminar-style course develops students' abilities to reflect on Americans' encounters with their landscape traditions. Students study ways Americans have built on the land and have worshipped and represented nature in paintings, photographs, and advertisements. Students learn to read landscapes to discover how artistically, religiously, and ecologically important the landscape tradition has been in the United States and to become thoughtful viewers and creators of landscapes. Counts toward major: Art, American studies, art history, and environmental studies. Counts toward concentration: American studies and environmental studies. Offered annually.

Environmental Studies/Political Science 276: Environmental Politics

Analysis of environmental policy includes the politics of agenda setting, policy selection and program implementation, and the effects of policy outcomes. Offered annually. Counts towards American studies major.

281 Topics in Environmental Studies

Students study topics related to the environment. Topics vary from year to year at the discretion of the instructor. Topics may include Environment and Theology, Environmental Justice, Ecotourism, and Literature of the Poles. Class is largely discussion-based but may include a lab/field work component depending on the topic. May be repeated if topics are different. Offered annually.

Biology/Environmental Studies 286: Tropical Ecology in Costa Rica (abroad)

This course offers students the opportunity to study first-hand the most diverse ecosystems on earth. This intensive field-oriented course explores lowland rain forest, montane forest, dry forest, and coastal and agricultural ecosystems through projects and field trips. Students read and discuss texts and primary literature specific to ecology, evolution, conservation, and agricultural practices of each area, and keep reflective journals. Prerequisite: one science course. Offered in alternate years during Interim.

294 Internship

298 Independent Study

311 Global Environmental Issues at Cranfield University, United Kingdom

This course provides students with hands-on experience applying scientific information and skills to the development of solutions to specific environmental problems in collaboration with industry and government in the United Kingdom. Students take course modules at Cranfield University, supplemented by sessions led by a St. Olaf faculty member to synthesize information from modules and other readings as well as to develop their oral communication skills for final presentations to the Cranfield community and industry and government partners. Prerequisites: Environmental Studies 137 and two level II courses in natural or social sciences. Offered during Interim.

Biology/Environmental Studies 320: Arctic Ecosystems: An Analysis of Global Change

This course focuses on biological and physical features of arctic ecosystems, their responses to climate change, and consequences of climate change for ecological processes. The foundation of the course is the discussion of current literature on arctic ecosystems. The course briefly reviews causes of climate change in the Arctic and focuses on biogeochemical cycles, biological communities, and the unique characteristics of organisms, as well as the impacts of climate change on human societies. Students attend lecture plus one three-hour laboratory per week. Prerequisites: Biology 150; and any level II biology or environmental studies natural science course.

Biology/Environmental Studies 350: Biogeochemistry: Theory and Application

The study of global change and human environmental impacts requires students to link concepts from biology, chemistry, and physics. Students investigate these links by exploring current theories in biogeochemistry, with an emphasis on understanding the feedback between physical and ecological processes and the coupling of multiple element cycles. Laboratory activities focus on a practical exploration of the methods biogeochemists use, including experience with a variety of instruments. Prerequiste: Any level II biology, chemistry, or physics course or permission of instructor.

Environmental Studies 381: Topics in Enviromental Studies

Students study topics related to the environment. Topics vary from year to year at the discretion of the instructor. Recent topics offered include Ecosystem Research, Landscape Art, Imaging Environmentalism, and Landscape and Regional Change in the Arctic.

394 Internship

396 Directed Undergraduate Research: "Topic Description"

This course provides a comprehensive research opportunity, including an introduction to relevant background material, technical instruction, identification of a meaningful project, and data collection. The topic is determined by the faculty member in charge of the course and may relate to his/her research interests. Prerequisite: determined by individual instructor. Offered based on department decision. May be offered as a 1.00 credit course or .50 credit course.

398 Independent Rsearch

399 Seminar in Environmental Studies

A capstone seminar for seniors in the major and concentration, this course involves intensive study of special topics utilizing student research projects and presentations. An academic civic engagement project relies on the expertise gained from their environmental studies courses and work in other majors as applicable. Topics relate to a local or regional environmental issue, providing participants with opportunities to interact with government and regulatory agencies and community groups. Prerequisites: Environmental Studies 137, senior status, or permission of the environmental studies chair and instructor. Offered spring semester.

ENVIRONMENTAL STUDIES COURSES IN OTHER DEPARTMENTS

Natural Sciences

Biology 226: Terrestrial Ecology (Environmental Science in Australia)
Biology 261: Ecological Principles
Biology 371: Field Ecology
Chemistry 124: A Matter of the Environment with Laboratory
Chemistry 248/254: Organic Chemistry II
Chemistry 255/256: Analytical Chemistry
Environmental Studies 123: Geophysics: Perspectives on the Dynamic Earth
Statistics 110: Principles of Statistics
Statistics 212: Statistics for Scientists
Statistics 263: Statistics for Economics
Statistics 272: Statistical Modeling

Social Sciences

Economics 121: Principles of Economics
Economics 242: Environmental Economics
Economics 243: Economic Development
Interdisciplinary Studies 234: Human Geography of the Middle East
Political Science 220: Analyzing Politics and Policies
Political Science 221: Environmental Policy (Environmental Science in Australia)
Psychology 227: Environmental Psychology at Rocky Mountain National Park
Psychology 230: Research Methods in Psychology
Sociology/Anthropology 222: Cultural Anthropology (Environmental Science in Australia)
Sociology/Anthropology 297: Environmental Anthropology
Sociology/Anthropology 371: Foundations of Social Science Research: Quantitative Methods

Arts and the Humanities

English 276: Literature and the Environment
History 245: Environmental History of Latin America
History 275: Environmental History
Philosophy 257: Environmental Ethics