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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, UO Catalog, and Tip Sheets for other course options.

2021-2022 ENVS Projected Course Schedule & Requirements

Fall 2021

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CourseArea
1
Area
2
Area
3A
Area
3B
Area
4
Area
5
ENVS 202
Natural Science
X
ENVS 203
Humanities
X
ENVS 225
Intro to Food Studies
ENVS 345
Environmental Ethics
Humanities Foundation
ENVS 410
Avian Conservation
Life Science
ENVS 410
Plants and People
Social Science Foundation
ENVS 410
Origin of Social Life
Humanities Foundation
ENVS 411
Multispecies Justice
X
ENVS 411
People, Mtns, & Climate
X
ENVS 477
Soil Science
Earth & Physical Science
10/22/21

Winter 2022

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CourseArea
1
Area
2
Area
3A
Area
3B
Area
4
Area
5
ENVS 201
Social Science
X
ENVS 202
Natural Science
X
ENVS 345
Environmental Ethics
Humanities Foundation
ENVS 410
Data Mgmt & Visual
ESCI Majors (Analytical Approaches)ENV Majors
ENVS 410
Diversity in Public Lands
Humanities Foundation
ENVS 410
Water, Pub Health, Env
Sustain. Design & Practice
ENVS 410
Ecosystems and Society
Humanities Foundation
ENVS 411
Maps as Power
X
ENVS 425
Environmental Education:
Theory & Practice
X
ENVS 427
Environmental and Ecological Monitoring
X
ENVS 435
Environmental Justice
Social Science Foundation
ENVS 467
Sustain Agriculture
Sustain. Design & Practice
ENVS 494M
Passive Heating
Sustain. Design & Practice
11/09/21

Spring 2022

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CourseArea
1
Area
2
Area
3A
Area
3B
Area
4
Area
5
ENVS 201
Social Science
X
ENVS 202
Humanities
X
ENVS 410
Nature in Popular Culture
Humanities Foundation
ENVS 410
Ocean Conservation
Humanities Foundation
ENVS 410
Unnatural Disasters
Humanities Foundation
ENVS 411
Living in the Kleptocene:
Clim and Colonialism
X
ENVS 429
Environ Leadership Program
X
ENVS 455
Sustainability
Social Science Foundation
ENVS 493
Passive Cooling
Sustain. Design & Practice
10/22/21

2021-2022 ENVS Course Descriptions

Winter 2022

ENVS 201 Intro Environmental Studies: Social Science
(4 cr) (>3)
Walker
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.Sample Syllabus
ENVS 202 Intro Environmental Studies: Natural Science
(4 cr) (>3)
Silva
The natural and applied sciences underlying contemporary environmental issues –
microbiology, physiology, aquatic and atmospheric chemistry, population ecology,
freshwater hydrology, oceanography, climate science, fluid dynamics, agronomy,
wind, solar, and nuclear engineering, transportation engineering, and many others –
are essential background for environmental decision-making at all scales. With an
understanding of photosynthesis, the carbon biogeochemical cycle, and
contemporary agricultural practices, for example, one can better evaluate conflicting
claims regarding the benefits and harms of particular biofuels. This course is focused
on the acquisition and use of such evidence, i.e. quantitative, scientific evidence, to
support and refute arguments surrounding environmental issues. In this way, it
promotes the acquisition of “science literacy”, the ability to work fluently with
observations, measurements, model predictions, survey results, maps, graphs, and
other forms of scientific data toward a desired end: an evidence-based argument,
policy, interpretation, or perspective. By the end of this course, successful students
will be well-prepared to recruit reliable scientific evidence to address the numerous
environmental questions they will ultimately encounter.
Sample Syllabus
ENVS 345 Environmental Ethics
(>1)
Morar
Imagine yourself in the following situation: you are in a room where you can press a button that says “If you press it, the Grand Canyon will be blown away”. What ethical reasons would you have to refrain from pressing that button? Is it morally wrong to destroy something we (humans) deem beautiful? Some philosophers believe that there is no moral value without a valuator. So, what if you were the last person on Earth and you would not care about the Grand Canyon, would it still be wrong to press the button? What if you were not the last person, would it suffice to appeal to the idea that you might deprive future generations from experiencing such ineffable scenery? Imagine the button says, “it you press it, the Grand Canyon will be blown away, but in doing so, you save x human lives.” How many human lives would justify blowing away the Grand Canyon? What if those lives are the lives of some people you will never know/meet with? Does it have to be a human life? What about a non-human animal life? What about an ecosystem?Sample Syllabus
ENVS 410 Top Data Management and VisualizationHallett
This course covers the non-statistical aspects of the data life cycle, including how to store, clean, visualize and communicate data. It is intended as a complement to statistics courses – we will cover how to get your data into shape for analysis, and how to communicate your findings visually. It is primarily a methods class and will be taught in R (but there is no expectation that students know R coming in).
ENVS 410 Top Diversity Initiatives on Public LandsWald
This class examines the social science and humanities research on the topic, past and present efforts by agencies, businesses, mainstream environmental organizations, and newer grassroots groups like Outdoor Afro and Latino Outdoors alongside the work of artists, activists, and authors. Students will gain hands-on experience working  to address these issues with UO and community partners.
ENVS 410 Top Water, Public Health, and EnvironmentRussel
Water, public health and the environment will examine the provision of water and sanitation services around the world with a particular focus on cases studies from low and middle income countries in Africa and South East Asia. This course will examine: The current crisis of access to water, sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) services and infrastructure around the world, the public health and environmental impacts of insufficient WASH services, technology, planning and policy options for expanding WASH services, the economic and behavioral barriers to the adoption of WASH technologies and services and the human right to WASH and its impacts on market-based approaches to service delivery.
ENVS 410 Top Ecosystems and SocietyMuraca
The course focuses on the relationships between ecosystems and society – in terms of how ecosystem contribute to people’s and communities’ good life, and of how people (individuals, communities, and institutions) understand, value, and relate to ecosystems. A special focus will be on perspectives from Indigenous and from Local Knowledge traditions on wellbeing, relationships to the other than human world, and plural languages of value and valuation. 
Readings include interdisciplinary literature from environmental and ecological economics, environmental sociology, psychology, and philosophy, policy documents and global assessment reports (Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, The Economics of Ecosystem and Biodiversity (TEEB), and assessments by the Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES)).
This is an interactive, research, and policy-oriented course. Students will have the opportunity of experimenting with methods of collaborative research oriented to a policy makers audience along the model of global assessment reports (IPCC or IPBES reports). They will design and write chapters for a final, collective report on ecosystems and society based on literature review assessments, methods for collaborative writing, and peer-reviews. 
ENVS 411 Top Maps as PowerVinyeta
Maps are important sources of information created and used by environmental professionals to visually represent a given environmental context. While often perceived as objective representations of space, maps involves conscious, power-laden choices, and must therefore be carefully interpreted and developed. In this course, students will gain insight into how maps have been historically used by institutions and communities to convey spatial information and make land management decisions. Students will be exposed to a wide variety of mapping projects and learn to ask important questions such as “who is this map intended to serve?” “how does map orientation influence perspective?” “what is in a map name?” “who gets to map?” “what story is conveyed?” and “to what end?”. The course will help students develop the ability to critically analyze maps through a justice-oriented lens and will culminate with a final project in which students will have a chance to pursue a creative mapping project of their choice.
ENVS 435 Environmental JusticeNorgaard
In this class we will consider how environmental conditions produce and are in-turn shaped by social inequality. The course is interdisciplinary with a focus on the environmental social sciences (sociology, geography, political science, law) and on the environmental humanities (philosophy, literature, history). Students will learn the basic history of, and theories/methods applied to Environmental Justice.
ENVS 467 Sustainable AgricultureMartin
The purpose of the class is for students to develop an informed critique of agricultural production. We will review traditional non-industrialized, modern industrialized, modern organic, and GMC (genetically modified crops)-based systems through the lens of sustainability. For our purposes, sustainability includes not only environmental, but also economic and cultural considerations. While holding a holistic perspective, the course examines the various material components of production systems. In each unit we will highlight problems and explore alternatives to current methods of production. Finally, we will discuss food policy and food security. The greatest single share of the course material stems from North American experience but the class is decidedly global in scope. Sample Syllabus
ENVS 494M Passive HeatingRempel
Conceptual and quantitative investigations of passive solar heating design and performance, including precedents, solar resource evaluation, glazing selection and orientation, thermal mass materials and positioning, movable insulation, and control scheduling, supported by solar site surveys and modeling in EnergyPlus. Sample Syllabus