Environmental Studies (ENV)

Academic Catalog: 2012–2013

  • Jeff Jeremiason, Program Director

The Environmental Studies (ENV ) Program, initially established in the 1970s at Gustavus, combines rigorous empiricism with analysis of ethical, aesthetic, and historical issues in examining the relationship between humans and the nonhuman world. A rich array of faculty expertise, courses, facilities, internships, and study abroad options provides the foundation for an interdisciplinary study of the environment.

Careful planning on the student’s part is essential from the beginning of one’s undergraduate career. Because of the individualized, interdisciplinary nature of the program and the sequential nature of many of the courses, students should normally declare an ES major no later than the end of their sophomore year, and should consult with an advisor from a department in their intended track. The advisors include Jeff Jeremiason (Chemistry); Jeff Owen (Economics); Mark Bjelland and Anna Versluis (Geography); Joel Carlin, Cindy Johnson, and Pamela Kittelson (Biology); Deane Curtin (Philosophy); Julie Bartley, Laura Triplett and James Welsh (Geology); Richard Leitch (Political Science); David Obermiller (History); and Donald Scheese (English).

Environmental Studies Major:
The major consists of 12 courses distributed as follows:

  1. The following five core courses provide the student with a foundational knowledge of important concepts, theories, principles, and facts related to the interdisciplinary study of the environment:
    1. ENV-120, Geochemistry of the Environment;
    2. BIO-245, Conservation Biology;
    3. ENV-250 Nature and Society;
    4. PHI-109, Philosophies of the Environment, ENG-228 American Pastoralism or ENV-104 Environmental History;
    5. ENV-399 Senior Seminar in Environmental Studies;
  2. Students will choose from one of four tracks: Physical Science, Life Science, Social Science, or Humanities. The seven-course tracks are intended to ensure depth within a particular area of environmental studies.

Environmental Studies majors are strongly encouraged to consider study abroad opportunities relating to the major. The Center for International and Cultural Education and the Environmental Studies advisor will assist with integration of international study with the requirements of the major.

Environmental Studies Minor:
The minor consists of the first four core courses plus two 200-level courses from any of the required courses in the tracks.

101 Interpreting the Fall Landscape (.5 course) The sun is changing and our daylight shortens. Autumn not only is the season of harvest and color but the time of preparation for winter. Use your five senses to really discover the out-of-doors. The course emphasis will be on observing, recording and interpreting our natural environment. Visits to deciduous forests, tall-grass prairies, cattail marshes, and other natural areas, plus nature interpretive facilities are all part of this class. Fall semester, first half.

103 Interpreting the Spring Landscape (.5 course) Overhead, underfoot, and all around us are discoveries to be made. As far as natural history is concerned, spring is the most eventful season of the year. The course emphasis will be on active observing, including visiting wetlands, deciduous forests, a restored prairie, and other natural areas, plus nature interpretive centers and trails. The study of local birds and insects, trees, shrubs and wildflowers, and other life forms is an integral part of the course. Making a mini herbarium and keeping a daily outdoor observation journal are course requirements. Spring semester, second half.

104 Environmental History (1 course) This course is the same as HIS-104. The complete course description can be found in the History listings.

120 Geochemistry of the Environment (1 course) This interdisciplinary course provides an introductory understanding of the environment from a physical science perspective. This course focuses on the chemical interactions and geologic processes that shape the environment we know. Fundamental chemistry concepts such as kinetics and equilibria help students understand connections among rock, water, air and life, while geology skills, like understanding the importance of time and connecting geologic features with the processes that form them, help students interpret the past conditions and future possibilities of a given landscape. Hands-on laboratory and field activities build a scientific framework for understanding the role of humans in the environment. This course is required for the Environmental Studies major and minor. ENV-120/GEO-120 and GEO-111 cannot both be taken for credit in the Geology major. Spring semester.

250 Nature and Society (1 course) This course is the same as GEG-250. The complete course description can be found in the Geography listings.

399 Senior Seminar (1 course) This capstone course for environmental studies majors emphasizes the interdisciplinary nature of environmental studies. Students will examine a number of environmental issues within the context of particular bioregions from geological, geographic, economic, political, historical, as well as other perspectives. A variety of research methodologies will be utilized. Student research projects will culminate in a public presentation. Fall semester.