Major Courses | Minor Courses


ESC 113.  Environmental Science I (S)
An introduction to environmental science that includes discussions of chemical, geological, and biological cycles, ecology, and the impact of human activities on earth's natural systems.  Laboratory  work will involve basic environmental analysis, and chemical, physical and biological testing of natural environments. Three hours of lecture and three hours of  laboratory / field work per week.

ESC 114.  Environmental Science II (S)
A continuation of ESC 113.  Topics include energy usage, air, water, and soil pollution, waste management, wildlife management, extinction, human and environmental toxicology, risk assessment, global warming, ozone depletion, and the use of genetically modified organisms.   Three hours of lecture and three hours of laboratory / field work per week. Prerequisite:  ESC 113 Environmental Science I.

ESC 201.  Environmental geology 
Organisms are inextricably bound to their physical environments.  An understanding of the interactions between the earth’s geology and biology is therefore fundamental to a study of environmental science.  This course examines earth’s physical environments as they relate to environmental science.  Topics will include the basic principles of geology, natural hazards such as volcanoes, earthquakes, mass wasting, and flooding, and the global hydrologic cycle.  Global water resources will be examined, with an emphasis placed on groundwater supply, movement, and pollution.  Three hours of lecture / discussion and three hours of laboratory per week.  Prerequisite:  any 100-level science course or permission of the instructor.  Meets general academic requirement W.  Offered alternate years (spring).

ESC 310.  Environmental chemistry (cross-listed with CHM 310)
The behavior of chemical pollutants in earth’s natural systems is critical to a study of environmental science.  This course will examine the chemistry of soil, air, and water, the interactions and cycles of elements between them, and the pollutants that can adversely affect these important resources.  Topics will include an overview of the physical chemistry of soils, reactions and fates of pollutants in soil, reactions and movement of pollutants in water, wastewater treatment, and chemical reactions in the atmosphere, including the mechanisms a smog production, ozone depletion, and global warming.  The chemistry of power generation involving fossil fuels, radioactive isotopes, solar energy, fuel cells and other resources will also be considered.  Three hours of lecture / discussion per week.  Prerequisite:  CHM 103 and CHM 104 or permission of the instructor.  Offered alternate years (fall).

ESC 312.  Environmental toxicology
Toxicology is, in broad terms, the science of poisons.  This course will provide an overview of the many branches of toxicology and examine the effects of poisons, or toxins, on individual organisms and ecosystems.  Of specific interest will be the uptake (ingestion), metabolism, storage, and excretion of toxins and the adverse effects experienced by organisms exposed to toxic substances.  The mechanisms by which substances induce cancer, birth defects, and nervous and immune system damage will be studied.  Additionally, fundamental principles of toxicology such as dose-response and selective toxicity will be described.  The sources, chemical properties, environmental fates, and regulation of toxins will also be addressed.  Three hours of lecture / discussion per week.  Prerequisites: CHM 104; BIO 150 or 151 (recommended); CHM 201 (recommended), or permission of the instructor.  Offered alternate years (fall).

ESC 480.  Special Topics in Environmental Science
Variable topics depending on student and faculty interest.  Possible topics include environmental toxicology, fates of pollutants in natural systems, environmental microbiology.  Three hours of lecture per week.

ESC 960.  Internship
Students are encouraged to pursue internship experiences.

ESC 970.  Independent Study
A limited number of independent study options are available for those students looking to expand their environmental science experience in directions not available within the normal course offerings or during an internship.


101.  Introduction to Sustainability Studies
An examination of the ecological, political, social, and ethical implications of contemporary environmental problems.  Attention will be given to understanding and evaluating the scientific nature of local, national, and global environmental issues, the historical origins of these problems, and the strategies and goals of the contemporary environmental movement.  The course also considers the political, social, and technological options available for addressing environmental problems.

ESC 111.  Topics in Environmental Science (S)
Environmental science is an interdisciplinary subject area that draws on biology, chemistry, geology, and ecology to study the earth’s natural systems and the forces (anthropogenic and otherwise) that can affect them.  Students will study the earth's natural environments, the interactions of organisms with each other as well as their physical surroundings, and the sources and effects of stress on natural environments.  Three hours of lecture / discussion each week.

201.  Environmentalism in Contemporary American Society (P)
An examination of the policy implications of industrial and technological development in the United States; the nature of specific ecological crises; the philosophical, historical, biological, and political origins of those crises; and the options available to address them  This team-taught course is usually offered in the spring semester.

350.  Environmental and Cultural Conservation in Latin America (C) (S)
In this interdisciplinary course, students will explore real solutions to the delicate problem of environmental and cultural conservation in developing Latin American countries.  Each year a particular  county (Costa Rica, Guatemala, Ecuador, or Honduras) will serve as a model and ultimate destination for study.  Students will meet regularly during the spring semester to develop projects and prepare for the two-week intensive, travel-study program, which will take place in early summer.  This preparation will include study of the area's ecological diversity, political and cultural history, and relevant Spanish vocabulary and conversation skills.  In the Latin American country, students will explore a variety of habitats, live in and interact with members of a small community, work with conservation professionals, and conduct independent research projects.  The objective of this course is to remove the blinders of specific discipline-based learning and of our own culture to show that if we are to develop lasting solutions, we must consider the environment in relation to the people who live in it.  Prerequisite:  Successful completion of Spanish III (or its equivalent) and permission of the instructors.  To be offered at least every other year.

960.  Environmental Internship
Internships may be arranged with appropriate private or public institutions on a local, state, or national level (especially through the Semester in Washington program).  Internships are designed to provide students with practical as well as theoretical insight into environmental problems and private and public responses to such problems.

970.  Independent Study
Independent study may be rostered in any academic department with approval of the advisor and should provide an opportunity to undertake an in-depth examination of some facet of environmental literature and research findings.