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Undergraduate Courses

Environmental Studies Course Descriptions & Syllabi

Please note that the following lists only include descriptions of courses with the ENVS prefix. Please consult the UO Class Schedule and the UO Catalog for other course options.

FALL 2014
WINTER 2015
SPRING 2015


FALL 2014

ENVS 201 Introduction to Environmental Studies: Social Sciences
(4 cr) Syllabus
Martin
This course introduces some of the major contributions of the social sciences to understanding how and why environmental problems happen—the social ‘root causes’ of these problems. Environmentally harmful human behavior is not simply a fact of life: it is a product of specific social conditions, which can be studied, understood, and changed. This course also examines social approaches to resolving environmental problems, including ideas such as ‘sustainability’, ‘market-based’ environmental policies, reforms of property systems, and social movements that promote concepts such as environmental justice, ecofeminism, and deep ecology. In this course, students practice applying these conceptual approaches by using them to analyze the root causes, consequences, and possible solutions to specific environmental topics. In previous years, the course has focused on topics such as global warming, energy, and the Pacific Northwest salmon crisis.
ENVS 201 Introduction to Environmental Studies: Social Sciences
(4 cr) Syllabus
Schreiner
This course introduces some of the major contributions of the social sciences to understanding how and why environmental problems happen—the social ‘root causes’ of these problems. Environmentally harmful human behavior is not simply a fact of life: it is a product of specific social conditions, which can be studied, understood, and changed. This course also examines social approaches to resolving environmental problems, including ideas such as ‘sustainability’, ‘market-based’ environmental policies, reforms of property systems, and social movements that promote concepts such as environmental justice, ecofeminism, and deep ecology. In this course, students practice applying these conceptual approaches by using them to analyze the root causes, consequences, and possible solutions to specific environmental topics. In previous years, the course has focused on topics such as global warming, energy, and the Pacific Northwest salmon crisis.
ENVS 203 Introduction to Environmental Studies: Humanities (4 cr) Syllabus Toadvine
This course is a survey of the contribution of humanities disciplines (e.g., literature, intellectual history, religious studies, and philosophy) to understanding the relationship between human beings and the natural environment. Theoretical perspectives covered in the course include the intellectual history of Western cultural attitudes and perceptions of nature, the role of religion in shaping environmental values, Native American perspectives on the environment, and the suggestions of contemporary radical ecology movements – deep ecology, social ecology, and ecofeminism – for revitalizing human relationships with the environment. The last segment of the course examines humanities perspectives on several current environmental issues: wilderness preservation, the Pacific Northwest salmon crisis, population and resource use, and global climate collapse. The course emphasizes the skills of textual and cultural interpretation, value reasoning, and critical inquiry as these are demonstrated in the engagement of the humanities with environmental concerns. This course fulfills the Arts and Letters Group Requirement and is a core course requirement for Environmental Studies and Environmental Science majors.
ENVS 298 Environmental Accountability and Data Visualization
(4 cr) Syllabus
Bothun
This course is designed to show how various environmental issues can be objectively framed in data aspects and how effective environmental policy can occur when the data view of the issue takes precedence over the anecdotal view. This course will also demonstrate that the gigantic effort underway to monitor emission space, land use changes, consumption patterns, transportation habits, etc, makes it possible for very accurate monitoring and subsequent accountability if this data can be made accessible to the policy world. That is the central role of data visualization – how do you represent a complex problem in an accessible format that promotes immediate understanding of the scale of the problem. This latter aspect of the course becomes possible now, given the very large and relatively easy to use open source software (OSS) visualization tools (e.g. the google playground).
ENVS 345 Environmental Ethics (4 cr) Syllabus Toadvine
This course introduces key concepts and methods in environmental ethics and surveys a range of contemporary positions in this field while developing skills of value clarification and ethical reasoning applicable to areas of interdisciplinary environmental study and problem-solving. Topics covered include the interdependence of facts and values in environmental decision-making, the relation of environmental ethics to traditional ethical theory, the conceptual foundations of environmental ethics, attributions of intrinsic value and rights to nature and other species, consumption and sustainability in our conceptions of the good life, and problems of resource distribution and environmental justice. The course concludes with case studies of specific ethical problems confronting environmentalists today (recent examples include restoration of oak savanna and the Klamath River salmon controversy). Emphasizing the skills of critical thinking, value reasoning, and philosophical inquiry within an interdisciplinary context, this course guides students in the application of these skills to real-world examples requiring analysis and interpretation. The course fulfills a General Education requirement in the Arts and Letters Group.
ENVS 350 Ecological Energy Generation (4 cr) Syllabus Bothun
Detailed study of the ecological consequences of all forms of energy generation, including fossil fuels and alternative energy sources.
ENVS 411 Food Systems (4 cr) Course Flyer Gooch/Moore
Join us to map and explore the emerging social movement towards sustainable and just food systems. Prepare for leadership roles through critical thinking and meaningful, active engagement with hands on food projects. Read about agroecology, social systems, food justice and food politics while you intern with local community partners, and investigate the complex and diverse nature of food systems from the ground up. Looking forward to a fun semester of food!
ENVS 411 Edges (4 cr) Course Flyer Roberts
 The edge of a forest, especially at twilight, inspires curiosity, confusion, and study in cultures all over the world, beginning with folk stories of mystical tricksters and now including the debates of ecologists. This course is a transdisciplinary study of environmental edges, the culture created by them and constructing them, and the practical applications of their study. Through this course, students will gain a holistic understanding of “edges” as well as training in professional and academic applications of such transdisciplinary and immersive study.
ENVS 411 Tribal Climate Change (4 cr) Course Flyer Syllabus Lynn
This course will give an in depth examination of the impacts of climate change on tribal culture and sovereignty in the United States, and exploration the role of traditional ecological knowledge in understanding climate change impacts and solutions, and climate justice.
ENVS 477 Soil Science (4 cr) Syllabus Yeo
This course will introduce students to the wonderful world of soils that exist, often
forgotten, beneath our feet. Soils are one of the most fundamental ecological constraints
on patterns and processes such as plant distribution, nutrient cycling, and cycling of water
between terrestrial ecosystems and the atmosphere. Soils are also an important
component of many current and historical environmental problems.

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Winter 2015

ENVS 201 Introduction to Environmental Studies: Social Sciences (4 cr) Syllabus Bacon
This course introduces students to social science perspectives regarding some of the major environmental challenges of our time. Drawing on work from sociology, political science, geography, anthropology (and more!) this course examines the socio-political causes, as well as potential approaches to confronting and alleviating these environmental challenges.
ENVS 202 Introduction to Environmental Studies: Natural Science (4 cr) Syllabus Sutherland
 This is an introductory course in environmental natural sciences. It is part of the core sequence in Environmental Studies and is required for the Environmental Studies majors. It is an introductory course, designed for freshmen and sophomores, and satisfies University general education breadth requirements for natural sciences. The only prerequisite is Math 95 or equivalent. Course goals include to promote understanding of the value and limitations of science in understanding environmental issues; to increase familiarity with scientific concepts underlying selected environmental issues and quantitative techniques that scientists use to evaluate them; to promote an understanding of how science is used to manage natural resources to promote a sustainable economy; to enhance ability to think creatively, analytically, and without bias (i.e. to think critically); and to understand how environmental science issues pervade our lives and gain confidence to understand these issues and make decisions based on your understanding and values. Four environmental issues are examined in some depth: human population growth, loss of biodiversity, climate change, and energy use.
ENVS 335 Allocating Scarce Environmental Resources (4 cr) Syllabus Cameron
Considerations for the design of environmental and natural resources policies and regulations: balancing society’s preferences and the cost of environmental protection and resources conservations.
ENVS 410 River Stories (4 cr) Syllabus Chen/Baker
                  *This course is part of the Environmental Leadership Program*
Description TBA
ENVS 411 Climate Ethics (4 cr) Syllabus Christion-Myers
 Given the stakes, climate change is perhaps the defining issue of our age. How we respond (or don’t) to this issue will likely influence the course of human existence for generations to come. But is this simply a technological or economic problem waiting to be solved by the experts, as most Westerners believe? Or, as many are now claiming, is this primarily an issue of ethics and justice?The implications of climate change throw basic assumptions about how we live our lives and how we think into question. Perhaps no other issue compels us to so thoroughly reexamine how we relate to nature and to each other. Thus, as we struggle to confront the depth and gravity of climate change, new ways of thinking and living are increasingly called for. This course is designed to offer a variety of inter-disciplinary perspectives and approaches to this end.
ENVS 411 Marine Dead Zones (4 cr) Syllabus Rommwatt
 Marine dead zones are increasing globally and often linked to human activity. This course will explore the connections between environmental regulation, pollution, and marine ecology through an in-depth look at marine dead zones. Specifically, we will study the dead zone in the northern Gulf of Mexico and the issues surrounding it. This will inclue non-point source pollution in the Mississippi River and the law and policy related to this form of pollution, marine eutrophication and how it can lead to dead zones, the marine ecology of dead zones themselves, and how dead zones are and could affect fishing communities.
ENVS 411 Ecological Restoration (4 cr) Syllabus Boulay
                  *This course is part of the Environmental Leadership Program*
Description TBA
ENVS 425 Environmental Education (4 cr) Syllabus Lynch
                  *This course is part of the Environmental Leadership Program*
In-depth examination of environmental education in theory and practice.  Topics include learning theories, environmental literacy, and how to successfully plan, implement and evaluate educational programs.  We will also examine how EE is practiced in Oregon, nationally and around the globe.  A major focus is the group project, in which you will work in collaboration with a community partner to help develop EE materials.
ENVS 435 Environmental Justice (4 cr) Syllabus Norgaard
 How and why are environmental problems experienced differently according to raced, gender and class? How do different communities experience and respond to environmental problems? Why does it matter that there is unequal exposure to environmental risks and benefits? What do we learn about the meaning of gender, race and class by studying the patterns of exposure and creative resistance of different communities to environmental hazards? In other words, what does the study of environmental risks tell us about racism, classism, sexism in our nations and world today? What is environmental privilege and why does it matter? These are some of the questions we will take up in this course.
ENVS 467 Sustainable Agriculture (4 cr) Syllabus Martin
 Examines traditional non-industrialized, modern industrialized, modern organic, and genetically modified crop-based systems through the lens of sustainability.

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Spring 2015

ENVS 202 Introduction to Environmental Studies: Natural Science
(4 cr) Syllabus
Dickman
 This is an introductory course in environmental natural sciences. It is part of the core sequence in Environmental Studies and is required for the Environmental Studies majors. It is an introductory course, designed for freshmen and sophomores, and satisfies University general education breadth requirements for natural sciences. The only prerequisite is Math 95 or equivalent. Course goals include to promote understanding of the value and limitations of science in understanding environmental issues; to increase familiarity with scientific concepts underlying selected environmental issues and quantitative techniques that scientists use to evaluate them; to promote an understanding of how science is used to manage natural resources to promote a sustainable economy; to enhance ability to think creatively, analytically, and without bias (i.e. to think critically); and to understand how environmental science issues pervade our lives and gain confidence to understand these issues and make decisions based on your understanding and values. Four environmental issues are examined in some depth: human population growth, loss of biodiversity, climate change, and energy use..
ENVS 203 Introduction to Environmental Studies: Humanities
(4 cr) Syllabus
LeMenager
This course is a survey of the contribution of humanities disciplines (e.g., literature, intellectual history, religious studies, and philosophy) to understanding the relationship between human beings and the natural environment. Theoretical perspectives covered in the course include the intellectual history of Western cultural attitudes and perceptions of nature, the role of religion in shaping environmental values, Native American perspectives on the environment, and the suggestions of contemporary radical ecology movements – deep ecology, social ecology, and ecofeminism – for revitalizing human relationships with the environment. The last segment of the course examines humanities perspectives on several current environmental issues: wilderness preservation, the Pacific Northwest salmon crisis, population and resource use, and global climate collapse. The course emphasizes the skills of textual and cultural interpretation, value reasoning, and critical inquiry as these are demonstrated in the engagement of the humanities with environmental concerns. This course fulfills the Arts and Letters Group Requirement and is a core course requirement for Environmental Studies and Environmental Science majors.
ENVS 345 Environmental Ethics (4 cr) Syllabus Guernsey
This course introduces key concepts and methods in environmental ethics and surveys a range of contemporary positions in this field while developing skills of value clarification and ethical reasoning applicable to areas of interdisciplinary environmental study and problem-solving. Topics covered include the interdependence of facts and values in environmental decision-making, the relation of environmental ethics to traditional ethical theory, the conceptual foundations of environmental ethics, attributions of intrinsic value and rights to nature and other species, consumption and sustainability in our conceptions of the good life, and problems of resource distribution and environmental justice. The course concludes with case studies of specific ethical problems confronting environmentalists today (recent examples include restoration of oak savanna and the Klamath River salmon controversy). Emphasizing the skills of critical thinking, value reasoning, and philosophical inquiry within an interdisciplinary context, this course guides students in the application of these skills to real-world examples requiring analysis and interpretation. The course fulfills a General Education requirement in the Arts and Letters Group.
ENVS 410 Nature in Popular Culture
(4 cr) Syllabus
Wald
 Description TBA
ENVS 411 Decolonization and Environmental Justice
(4 cr) Syllabus
Bacon
Settler colonialism separates people from their sacred places, distorts the history of land-tenure, and brutalizes the ecology that upholds all life. As colonizers degrade the land, native people are often experience physical, emotional, spiritual and economic harms. In these many ways, ecological damage contributes to the ongoing genocide of native peoples. Many indigenous peoples and their supporters actively oppose ecological forms of colonial violence. Contemporary examples include the Cowboy and Indian Alliance against the Keystone XL project, international movements opposing the Tar Sands, and the work of the Two-Row Wampum Renewal Campaign.
This 411 course is designed to allow students to more fully analyze disproportionate environmental harms/benefits within the settler-colonial context (particular focus on the US and Canada because we only have 10 weeks). Students will also be introduced to the concept of decolonized research methods.
ENVS 411 Communicating Climate Change
(4 cr) Syllabus
Crayne
Despite overwhelming scientific consensus about the reality and severity of anthropogenic climate change, public knowledge and concern about the issue remains meager. Why? And what can be done? How can climate activists and educators communicate in a way that promotes public knowledge about the issue and inspires action and change? Drawing from sociology, psychology, education theory, and the humanities, this course will first examine barriers faced by climate educators and then assess a variety of real-life formal and informal educational efforts and consider how successful they are at overcoming those barriers. As a culminating project, students will work in groups to develop and implement their own vehicle to “communicate climate change” to an audience of their choosing.
ENVS 455 Sustainability
(4 cr) Syllabus
Walker
This course is about the evolution of the concept of sustainability and its complex and sometimes problematic uses among scholars, policy makers, environmentalists and businesses. The course examines the competing social, cultural, economic, and ecological assumptions and priorities that are often quietly but powerfully promoted in the push for sustainability. A concept means that all things to all people can too easily come to mean little or nothing. The purpose of this course is to help students to go beyond fuzzy buzzwords by critically examining these multiple meanings and encouraging more explicit and rigorous thinking about sustainability that is supported by sound theory and evidence, as well as efforts to understand reconcile the ambiguities, tensions, and contradictions in the concept. Prereq for 455: ENVS 201.
ENVS 455 Political Ecology
(4 cr) Syllabus
Walker
Political ecology examines the politics (in the broadest sense of the word) of the environment. Whereas environmental politics courses often focus on the role of government and interest groups in shaping specific environmental policies, political ecology expands our understanding of ‘politics’ to examine the roles of: 1) environmental rhetoric (‘discourse’), ideology, and knowledge; 2) politics and environmental change; 3) economic systems (including ‘globalization’); 4) gender-based dimensions of resource ownership and use; 5) and everyday struggles within communities and households (including ‘community’-based resource management) as they shape human relationships with nature. Although much of the political ecology literature comes from studies of the less-developed ‘third world,’ this course also examines the political ecology of the ‘first world.’

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2013-2014 Course Description, Information & Syllabi


2012-2013 Course Description, Information & Syllabi


2011-2012 Course Description, Information & Syllabi


2010-2011 Course Description and Information


Environmental Studies in the UO Catalog