Introduction to Environmental Studies

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Fall 2018
Winter 2019
Credits per quarter

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Taught by

botany, phytochemistry, systematics
ecology, vertebrate biology
Edward (Ted) Whitesell
geography, environmental studies

This program serves as an introduction to the interdisciplinary field of environmental studies, using natural and social sciences, as well as humanities to understand and address current environmental challenges. Students will engage in a variety of hands-on learning activities including field trips, case study and research projects; as well as labs, lectures, and seminars; with the central goal of advancing students' ability to think critically and in-depth about environmental challenges and solutions. Credit equivalencies of the program include introductory ecology, natural history, and environmental social science.

Fall quarter will explore concepts in social science and ecology, including systems thinking, just sustainability, biocultural diversity, population biology and demography, community ecology, and ecosystem ecology. The study of fisheries, both for food and ornamentation, will bring together many of these concepts and allow us to examine both ecological and human communities around the world. Students will learn to examine the complex environmental consequences of the choices we make every day and will develop skills in analytical writing as practiced in the social and natural sciences. Readings will include both classic and contemporary environmental texts, scientific articles, and a novel. We will study scientific methods and statistics with a focus on hypothesis development and measures of central tendency (mean, median, and mode) and spread (variance and standard deviation).

Winter quarter continues exploring local, regional, and global environmental issues with the added lenses of plant biodiversity and conservation, plus the environmental and cultural history of the Pacific Northwest. Students will gain experience and skills in the lab and field with plant identification, keeping a detailed field journal, and documenting and studying environmental change through the use of herbaria specimens and online biodiversity databases. We will study efforts to promote sustainable development and, through the use of political ecology, examine how the integration of social and natural science can lead to solutions that promote environmental quality and social justice. The program will explore the role that citizen science plays in strengthening both conservation and civil society. Students will be challenged to apply and more fully develop the skills and knowledge introduced in the fall quarter through in-depth research projects focusing on critical environmental problems and associated solutions and educating the public about these important issues in the form of a popular science blog post.

This offering will prepare you for careers and advanced study in: ecosystem science, resource policy and conservation, and natural history.

Online learning:
  • Enhanced Online Learning - This offering requires access to web-based tools, but use of these tools does not displace any face-to-face instruction.

$30 per quarter for entrance fees for museums, arboretums, cultural centers.

Scheduled for: Day

Located in: Olympia