Environmental Studies (ENV)

Academic Catalog: 2016–2017

  • James Dontje, 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 James Dontje (Environmental Studies); Jeff Jeremiason (Chemistry); Jeff Owen (Economics); Anna Versluis and Jeff La Frenierre (Geography); Joel Carlin, Cindy Johnson, and Pamela Kittelson (Biology); Julie Bartley, Laura Triplett, and James Welsh (Geology); Richard Leitch (Political Science); Deborah Goodwin (Religion); David Obermiller (History); Annika Ericksen (Sociology/Anthropology); and Donald Scheese (English).

Environmental Studies Major:

The major consists of 12 courses distributed as follows:

  • 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-209, Philosophies of the Environment, ENG-228 American Pastoralism or ENV-104 Environmental History;
    5. ENV-399 Senior Seminar in Environmental Studies;
  • 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. A complete description of the four tracks can be found at https://gustavus.edu/env-studies/courses.php

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 Level II courses from any of the required courses in the tracks.

Environmental Studies Courses

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 introduces students to the Earth and environment from a physical science perspective. We focus on the chemical interactions and geologic processes that shape the environment we know. Students learn fundamental chemistry concepts such as kinetics and equilibria to help them understand connections among rock, water, air and life. Then, they learn geology skills—like “reading” the landscape and identifying rocks and sediments—to interpret the past conditions and future possibilities of a given place. In hands-on laboratory and field activities we measure lake water quality, map the rocks and minerals of our area, and learn about the energy expenditures and alternative energy technologies at Gustavus. This course can serve as the required Level I course for the Geology major and minor. ENV-120/GEO-120 and GEO-111 cannot both be taken for credit in the Geology major. NASP, Fall 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.

268, 368 Career Exploration, Internship (Course value to be determined) Off-campus employment experience related to the student’s major. See description of the Internship Program. Fall and Spring semesters and Summer.

291, 391 Independent Study (Course value to be determined) Study of a selected problem or area of the field. Prerequisite: permission of the instructor. Fall and Spring semesters, January Term.

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 and outreach projects will culminate in presentations and reports to their peers. Fall semester.