Environmental Studies

  • Department Information

    Environmental Studies

    Carrie Wu, Coordinator (Biology)
    Professors McWhorter (WGSS), Outka (English), Sjovold (Art)
    Associate Professors Abrash (Chemistry), Finley-Brook (Geography and the Environment), Kitchen (SPCS), Lookingbill (Biology; Geography and the Environment), Salisbury (Geography and the Environment), Smallwood (Biology), Stevenson (Chemistry), Wu (Biology)

    The environmental studies major consists of courses in the natural sciences, social sciences, humanities, law, and business.

  • Major

    The Environmental Studies Major

    Note: The grade point average of all the coursework comprising the major must be no less than 2.00 with no course grade below C- (1.70) in all courses other than Calculus II.

    For the Bachelor of Arts degree

    12 units, including:

    ENVR 201 Introduction to Sustainability

    ENVR 230 Environmental Economics

    ENVR 269 Topics in Environmental Ethics

    ENVR 362 Environmental Law and Policy

    ENVR 391 Environmental Senior Seminar

    One course in environmental life science chosen from:

    BIOL 109*/ENVR 109 Introduction to Ecology

    BIOL 111/ENVR 111 Marine Biology of the Chesapeake Bay

    ENVR 199 Introduction to Biological Thinking

    One course in physical environmental science chosen from:

    CHEM 110/ENVR 110 Pollutants in the Environment

    CHEM 316 Environmental Chemistry

    ENVR 250 Planet Earth: Wind, Water, Fire

    PHYS 123 Physics of Renewable Energy

    Introductory statistics requirement: MATH 209 (preferred), BIOL 320, BUAD 202, CHEM 300, PSYC 200, or equivalent course approved by the ES coordinator

    One course in environmental research methods, chosen from:

    ANTH 211 Field Methods in Ethnography

    CHEM 301 Quantitative Chemical Analysis

    CHEM 302 Instrumentation and Spectroscopy

    ECON 370 Advanced Econometrics

    ENVR 260 Foundations of Geospatial Analysis

    MATH 304* Math Models in Biology and Medicine

    PLSC 270 Social Science Inquiry

    SOC 211 Sociological Research Methods and Data Analysis

    Three units of electives approved for environmental studies, at least one-half unit of which must be an experiential learning course (ENVR 320, ENVR 388, ENVR 406, GEOG 406, or equivalent)

    For the Bachelor of Science degree

    15 units, including:

    ENVR 201 Introduction to Sustainability

    ENVR 230 Environmental Economics

    ENVR 269 Topics in Environmental Ethics

    ENVR 362 Environmental Law and Policy

    ENVR 391 Environmental Senior Seminar

    One course in environmental life science chosen from:

    BIOL 109*/ENVR 109 Introduction to Ecology

    BIOL 111/ENVR 111 Marine Biology of the Chesapeake Bay

    ENVR 199 Introduction to Biological Thinking

    One course in physical environmental science chosen from:

    CHEM 110/ENVR 110 Pollutants in the Environment

    CHEM 316 Environmental Chemistry

    ENVR 250 Planet Earth: Wind, Water, Fire

    PHYS 123 Physics of Renewable Energy

    Introductory statistics requirement: MATH 209 (preferred), BIOL 320, BUAD 202, CHEM 300, PSYC 200, or equivalent course approved by the ES coordinator

    One course in environmental research methods, chosen from:

    ANTH 211 Field Methods in Ethnography

    CHEM 301 Quantitative Chemical Analysis

    CHEM 302 Instrumentation and Spectroscopy

    ECON 370 Advanced Econometrics

    ENVR 260 Foundations of Geospatial Analysis

    MATH 304* Math Models in Biology and Medicine

    PLSC 270 Social Science Inquiry

    SOC 211 Sociological Research Methods and Data Analysis

    Three units of electives approved for environmental studies, at least one-half unit of which must be an experiential learning course (ENVR 320, ENVR 388, ENVR 406, GEOG 406, or equivalent)

    One of MATH 212 Calculus II or MATH 289 Introduction to Data Science

    Two units in biology, chemistry, or physics at or above the 300 level

    *The following courses involve significant overlap in content: BIOL 109/BIOL 207; and MATH 304. Credit toward the major can be given for only one course in each pair; for example, credit can be given for either BIOL 109 or BIOL 207 but not both.

    Students are expected to fulfill all prerequisites necessary for courses within the major. Prerequisites do not count toward the major unless otherwise noted.

  • Minor

    The Environmental Studies Minor

    Note: The grade point average of all the coursework comprising the minor in environmental studies must be no less than 2.00 with no course grade below C- (1.70).

    Six units, including:

    ENVR 201 Introduction to Sustainability

    ENVR 269 Topics in Environmental Ethics

    Either ENVR 230 Environmental Economics or ENVR 362 Environmental Law and Policy

    One course in environmental life science chosen from:

    BIOL 109*/ENVR 109 Introduction to Ecology

    BIOL 111/ENVR 111 Marine Biology of the Chesapeake Bay

    ENVR 199 Introduction to Biological Thinking

    One course in physical environmental science chosen from:

    CHEM 110/ENVR 110 Pollutants in the Environment

    CHEM 316 Environmental Chemistry

    ENVR 250 Planet Earth: Wind, Water, Fire

    PHYS 123 Physics of Renewable Energy

    One approved elective in environmental studies

    *Credit toward the Environmental Studies minor will be given for either BIOL 109 or BIOL 207, but not both. Students are expected to fulfill all prerequisites necessary for courses within the minor. Prerequisites do not count toward the minor unless otherwise noted.

  • Paths of Study

    Paths of Study in Environmental Studies

    Note: A student does not have to choose a path of study in order to receive a degree in environmental studies. Students may satisfy the elective units requirement of the degree by pursuing one of the following paths of study:

    Environmental Science Path of Study

    Three units of electives, chosen from:

    BIOL 111/ENVR 111 Marine Biology of the Chesapeake Bay

    BIOL 225 Evolution

    BIOL 306 Systematic Botany

    BIOL 331 Molecular Ecology

    BIOL 333 Microbial Ecology

    BIOL 344 Behavioral Ecology

    BIOL 383 Tropical Biology and Conservation

    CHEM 110/ENVR 110 Pollutants in the Environment

    CHEM 316 Environmental Chemistry

    ENVR 250 Planet Earth: Wind, Water, Fire

    ENVR 350 Environmental Gradients

    GEOG 315 Landscape Ecology

    Environment and Society Path of Study

    Three units of electives, chosen from:

    ECON 211 Economic Development in Asia, Africa and Latin America

    ENVR 330 Environmental and Resource Economic Theory

    GEOG 220 Ecotourism

    GEOG 320 Power, Space, and Territory: Geographies of Political Change

    GEOG 333 Geographies of Amazonia

    GEOG 345 Global Sustainability: Society, Economy, Nature

    GEOG 370 Geographies of Economic Development and Globalization

    HIST 390 Food and Power in Africa and Asia

    JOUR 304 Reporting on the Environment

    MGMT 348 Environmental Management

    PLSC 260 Introduction to Public Policy

    PLSC 360 International Development Policy

    Experiential learning (ENVR 388, ENVR 320, or equivalent) and Special Topics (ENVR 300) may be counted towards a path of study with approval of the environmental studies coordinator.

  • Electives

    Environmental Studies Electives

    ANTH 211 Field Methods in Ethnography

    BIOL 108 Environmental Biology

    BIOL 111 Marine Biology of the Chesapeake Bay

    BIOL 225 Evolution

    BIOL 306 Systematic Botany

    BIOL 330 Urban Ecology and Evolution

    BIOL 331 Molecular Ecology

    BIOL 333 Microbial Ecology

    BIOL 344 Behavioral Ecology

    BIOL 381 Advanced topics in Ecology

    BIOL 382 Conservation Biology

    BIOL 383 Tropical Biology & Conservation

    CHEM 110 Pollutants in the Environment

    CHEM 301 Quantitative Chemical Analysis

    CHEM 302 Instrumentation and Spectroscopy

    CHEM 316 Environmental Chemistry

    ECON 211 Economic Development in Asia, Africa and Latin America

    ECON 370 Advanced Econometrics

    ENVR 215 / GEOG 215 Geography of the James

    ENVR 220 / GEOG 220 Ecotourism

    ENVR 250 / GEOG 250 Planet Earth: Wind, Water, Fire

    ENVR 260 / GEOG 260 Foundations of Geospatial Analysis

    ENVR 300 Special Topics

    ENVR 315 Landscape Ecology

    ENVR 322 The Global Impact of Climate Change

    ENVR 330 / ECON 330 Environmental and Resource Economic Theory

    ENVR 350 Environmental Gradients

    ENVR 360 / GEOG 360 Environmental Remote Sensing

    ENVR 365 / GEOG 365 Advanced Spatial Analysis

    ENVR 388 Individual Internship

    ENVR 390 Independent Study

    GEOG 320 Power, Space and Territory: Geographies of Political Change

    GEOG 333 Geographies of Amazonia

    GEOG 345 Global Sustainability: Society, Economy, Nature

    GEOG 370 Geographies of Economic Development and Globalization

    HIST 390 Food & Power in Africa and Asia

    MGMT 348 Environmental Management

    MGMT 353 Sustainability and Accountability in Business

    MATH 304 Math Models in Biology and Medicine

    PLSC 260 Introduction to Public Policy

    PLSC 360 International Development Policy

    RELG 269 Ethics, Religion and the Environment

    RELG 374 Religion and the American Environment

    SOC 211 Sociological Research Methods

Courses

Expand All
  • ENVR 109 Introduction to Ecology

    Units: 1

    Fulfills General Education Requirement (FSNB)

    Description

    Introduction to causes and consequences of ecological patterns at all scales: individuals, species, communities, and ecosystems. Terrestrial, aquatic, and marine systems are studied, as well as theories and the mathematical and graphical models used to understand them. Some labs require work outside. Will not serve as basis for further work in science nor meet entrance requirements for any health profession. Three lecture and three laboratory hours per week. (Same as Biology 109.)

  • ENVR 110 Pollutants in the Environment

    Units: 1

    Fulfills General Education Requirement (FSNC)

    Description

    Sources, behavior, and effects of chemical pollutants in the air, water, and soil. Topics include global warming, ozone depletion, acid rain, pesticides, and radioactive waste. Three lecture and three laboratory hours per week. Does not count toward the chemistry major or minor. (Same as Chemistry 110.)

  • ENVR 111 Marine Biology of the Chesapeake Bay

    Units: 1

    Fulfills General Education Requirement (FSNB)

    Description

    Introduction to the ecology and biological diversity of the Chesapeake Bay and its watershed. Environmental issues facing the bay will be explored through direct data collection, observation, and hands-on activities. This is a service-learning course and students will join local 5th-grade classrooms to help teach elementary students about the bay. Will not serve as basis for further work in science nor meet entrance requirements for any health profession. Three lecture and three laboratory hours per week. (Same as Biology 111.)

  • ENVR 199 Introduction to Biological Thinking

    Units: 1

    Fulfills General Education Requirement (FSNB)

    Description

    An introduction to how biologists pose questions, design experiments, analyze data, evaluate evidence, and communicate scientific information. Individual sections will have different topics and formats, but all sections will involve intensive student-directed investigation and include a laboratory component. Required for prospective biology majors and biochemistry and molecular biology majors. Three lecture and three laboratory hours per week. (Same as Biology 199.)

    Prerequisites

    Cross-listed with BIOL 199 when appropriate.

  • ENVR 201 Introduction to Sustainability

    Units: 1

    Description

    Overview of contemporary sustainability issues, including systems thinking, justice, integration, acting for positive change, and sustainability knowledge (species extinction, resource depletion, pollution, and climate change among others). Students examine challenges and opportunities of pursuing sustainable behavior in a changing world.

  • ENVR 215 Geography of the James River Watershed

    Units: 1

    Description

    Study of the local environments and protected areas within the James River watershed. Explores the natural and human connections that define the resource challenges and opportunities within this urban watershed. (Same as Geography 215.)

  • ENVR 220 Ecotourism

    Units: 1

    Description

    Ecotourism integrates environmental protection, education, empowerment, local livelihoods, and responsible travel. The study of ecotourism allows students to document and analyze complex interactions between society and nature. (Same as Geography 220.)

  • ENVR 230 Environmental Economics

    Units: 1

    Description

    Development and application of economic principles to understand and evaluate causes and solutions to environmental problems such as pollution and conservation. Topics include economics of biodiversity protection, climate change, natural resource damage assessment, measurement of environmental values, and alternative strategies for pollution control. (Same as Economics 230.)

    Prerequisites

    Economics 101.

  • ENVR 250 Planet Earth: Wind, Water, Fire

    Units: 1

    Fulfills General Education Requirement (FSNB)

    Description

    Basic concepts of earth systems science and physical geography. Topics include: introduction to mapping, GIS and remote sensing; weather and climate; drought, floods, and environmental hydrology; earthquakes, volcanos, landforms and geomorphology; and the interactions of all of the above with humans and the earth's biota. Climate change and the spatial inequalities in environmental pollution and resources are emphasized. (Same as Environmental Studies 250.)

  • ENVR 260 Foundations of Geospatial Analysis

    Units: 1

    Description

    Introduces the data and technology underlying quantitative spatial analysis. Covers foundational concepts of geospatial data (raster, vector, coordinate systems, map projections, scale, symbology and metadata) and introduces students to geospatial technology (GIS, GPS, remote sensing, web and mobile mapping). Uses spatial data from multiple national and international data platforms (e.g. USGS, Census Bureau, CDC, UN) to create maps and perform basic spatial analysis. Use the ESRI Suite of products as well as open-source programs to create and manipulate spatial data. Introduction to concepts of map reading and design. (Same as Geography 260.)

  • ENVR 269 Topics in Environmental Ethics

    Units: 1

    Description

    Introduces students to the moral issues and ethical approaches that characterize interaction with our natural environment. Topics will vary but will typically include issues such as our moral obligation to nonhuman species and to future human generations, and ethical analysis of contemporary environmental issues such as climate change and species extinction.

  • ENVR 280 Selected Topics

    Units: .25-1

    Description

    May be repeated when topics vary.

  • ENVR 300 Special Topics

    Units: .5-1

    Description

    Selected topics about the environment.

  • ENVR 315 Landscape Ecology

    Units: 1

    Description

    Applied science that focuses on the development, consequences, and management of environmental patterns. These patterns include the spatial distributions of species and the environment resources upon which they depend. Attention is paid to the importance of scale in natural resource management. Landscape ecology also emphasizes the role of humans in the environment.

    Prerequisites

    GEOG/ENVR 250, ENVR/GEOG 201, BIOL 207, or permission of instructor

  • ENVR 320 Directed Research

    Units: .5

    Description

    Research with a faculty member in an environmental area.

  • ENVR 322 The Global Impact of Climate Change

    Units: 1

    Description

    Investigation of the global environmental impact of anthropogenic climate change, exploration of the science that explains the observations, and search for solutions that offset the impact of change on poor, marginalized, and at-risk communities around the world. Same as Geology 322U.

  • ENVR 333 Geographies of Amazonia

    Units: 1

    Description

    Explores the contradictions and connections of Amazonia. Considers the region's importance and relevance to the rest of the world through a study of the ecologies, histories, and geographies of Amazonia. Looks at the Amazon basin as much more than the world's greatest rainforest, richest reserve of biological and cultural diversity, and largest source of fresh water flow. (Same as Geography 333.)

    Prerequisites

    GS/GEOG 210, GEOG 290, or ENVR/GEOG 201

  • ENVR 345 Global Sustainability: Society, Economy, Nature

    Units: 1

    Description

    Applies geography's human-environment tradition to examine environmental, social, cultural, and economic dimensions of sustainability and sustainable development. Examinations into foundations and theories behind the concept of sustainable development, discussions and debates about its real-world applicability, and explorations into case studies addressing relationships and contradictions between human desires for material well-being, environmental protection, and maintenance of cultural and/or social traditions. (Same as Geography 345.)

    Prerequisites

    ENVR/GEOG 201, GEOG 210, GS 210, or GS290 or permission of instructor.

  • ENVR 360 Environmental Remote Sensing

    Units: 1

    Description

    Concepts of image acquisition, image interpretation, and satellite remote sensing. Includes electromagnetic spectrum concepts, acquisition of image data, visual characteristics of vegetation and landforms, image interpretation, classification and transformation, and integration of remotely sensed imagery into other spatial analysis systems. Student research projects. (Same as Geography 360.)

    Prerequisites

    Environmental Studies/Geography 260 or permission of instructor.

  • ENVR 362 Environmental Law and Policy

    Units: 1

    Description

    Examines legal aspects, both regulations and case law, of environmental policy. Central issues are whether legal responses (1) effectively address the needs of the parties most affected; (2) properly weigh such facts as economic efficiency, protection of nonhuman species, and the possibility of unintended consequences; and (3) are diluted by the political process. (Same as Political Science 362.)

    Prerequisites

    ENVR/GEOG 201 or PLSC 260.

  • ENVR 364 Environmental Geology

    Units: 1

    Description

    Introduces students to the global environmental impact of anthropogenic climate change and the possible impact of the way we live in the USA on poor, marginalized, and at risk communities around the world.

  • ENVR 365 Advanced Spatial Analysis

    Units: 1

    Description

    Advanced topics in Geographic Information Systems (GIS) theory, application, and analysis. Topics include use of Model Builder, analysis of aerial imagery and LiDAR data, use of 3D Analyst and ArcScene, and use of Network Analyst and topologies. Emphasis on practical and real-world applications of GIS for biological, environmental, and social science issues, culminating in student projects. This course may be repeated as specific course material frequently changes. (Same as Geography 365.)

    Prerequisites

    Environmental Studies/Geography/Biology 260.

  • ENVR 366 International Environmental Law

    Units: 1

    Description

    Explores how the international community has managed and mismanaged global environmental problems since the watershed UN Conference on Environment and Development in 1992. Involves a mix of readings, discussions, and simulations in various fields of international environmental law, with a particular focus on climate change, biodiversity, and international regulation of toxic hazards. Cross-cutting themes include North/South disputes, the precautionary principle, liability as a compliance mechanism, and the involvement of non-state actors in creating and implementing international environmental law. The major assignment for the course will be a seminar research paper. Same as LAWE 729.

  • ENVR 388 Individual Internship

    Units: .5

    Description

    Supervised independent field work. No more than 1.5 units of internship in any one department and 3.5 units of internship overall may be counted toward required degree units.

    Prerequisites

    Permission of environmental studies coordinator.

  • ENVR 390 Independent Studies

    Units: .5-1

    Description

    Topics independently pursued under supervision of a faculty member.

    Prerequisites

    Permission of instructor

  • ENVR 391 Environmental Senior Seminar

    Units: 1

    Description

    Close study of a current environmental problem. Student develops a project to address the problem using approaches and skills from the environmental studies core and elective courses.

    Prerequisites

    Permission of environmental studies coordinator.

  • ENVR 406 Summer Undergraduate Research

    Units: 0

    Description

    Documentation of the work of students who receive summer fellowships to conduct research [or produce a creative arts project] in the summer. The work must take place over a minimum of 8 weeks, the student must engage in the project full-time (at least 40 hours per week) during this period, and the student must be the recipient of a fellowship through the university. Graded S/U.

    Prerequisites

    Approval for summer Arts and Sciences fellowship by faculty mentor