Introduction to Environmental Studies


Fall 2014 and Winter 2015 quarters

Taught by

oceanography, marine biology
physical chemistry
political science and economics

This two-quarter program is designed to serve as a foundation for advanced programs in environmental studies. As such, it will survey a range of disciplines and skills essential for environmental problem solving from both a scientific and social science perspective. Specifically, we will study ecology, chemistry, American political and economic history, political science, environmental policy-making and micro/environmental economics. In addition, we will develop field, lab, quantitative reasoning and statistics skills with the goal of understanding current issues on a wide range of topics in environmental studies.

In fall quarter, we will examine local environmental issues such as degradation of aquatic systems, introduced exotic species, harmful algal blooms, salmon fisheries and local consequences of global climate change. Science lectures will develop the principles and skills relevant to understanding environmental phenomena and processes; the ecology lectures and fieldwork will examine the factors controlling the species diversity, distribution and productivity of organisms; and the chemistry lectures and labs will present atomic structure, the applications of the periodic table, nature of the chemical bond and stoichiometric calculations while developing students’ quantitative reasoning skills. Social science lectures will examine how the values of democracy and capitalism from the founding era to the present influence resource management, the scope and limitations of governmental policymaking, regulatory agencies and environmental law. Understanding the different levels (federal, state, local) of governmental responsibility for environmental protection will be explored in-depth. Finally, there will be an introduction to research design and statistics.

In winter quarter, we will continue the presentation of principles in ecology, chemistry and social science relevant to environmental studies and continue to develop quantitative approaches to data analysis. The thematic focus will shift to a more global scale and we will examine in depth three major challenges for the early 21th century: natural resources, global warming and energy. These related topics require an understanding of the science, politics and economics of each issue and how they interact. In addition to studying the science and policy underlying these issues, we will explore how economic analysis can be used as a problem-solving tool for environmental issues.

The material will be presented through lectures, workshops, seminars, labs, field trips/fieldwork and quantitative methods. Field trips, seminar and case studies will offer opportunities to see how science and policy interact in environmental issues.

Program Details

Fields of Study

Preparatory for studies or careers in

environmental studies, environmental regulation, education, ecology, chemistry and natural resource management.

Location and Schedule

Campus location



Offered during: Day


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Online Learning

Enhanced Online Learning: Access to web-based tools required, but use of these tools does not displace any face-to-face instruction.


Date Revision
December 11th, 2014 This program is no longer accepting new students for Winter quarter.

Registration Information

Credits: 16 (Fall); 16 (Winter)

Class standing: Sophomore–Senior

Maximum enrollment: 75


Course Reference Number

So - Sr (16 credits): 10108

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Enrollment Closed


This program is not accepting new students for Winter quarter.

Course Reference Number

So - Sr (16 credits): 20063

Go to to register for this program.

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