Environmental Studies Course Descriptions & Syllabi
ENVS 202 Intro Environmental Studies: Natural Science (4 cr.) (>3)
Instructor: Alexandra Rempel
Contributions of the natural sciences to analysis of environmental problems. Topics include biological processes, ecological principles, chemical cycling, ecosystem characteristics, and natural system vulnerability and recovery.
ENVS 203 Intro Environmental Studies: Humanities (4 cr.) (>1)
Contributions of the humanities and arts to understandings of the environment. Emphasis on diverse ways of thinking, writing, creating, and engaging in environmental discourse.
ENVS 410 Water, Public Health, Environment (4 cr) (3B Sustainable Design & Practice Core)
Instructor: Kory Russel
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 and sanitation (W&S)
services and infrastructure around the world.
– The public health and environmental impacts of insufficient
– Technology, planning and policy options for expanding W&S
– The economic and behavioral barriers to the adoption of W&S
technologies and services.
– The human right to W&S and its impacts on market-based
approaches to service delivery.
ENVS 410 Diversity Initiatives in Public Lands (4 cr.) (3B Humanities Core)
Instructor: Sarah Wald
this course examines the racial equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI) efforts of federal land agencies such as the National Park Service and United States Forest Service, mainstream conservation organizations such as The Sierra Club and The Wilderness Society, outdoor recreation-oriented companies like REI and Patagonia, and newer grassroots organizations like Outdoor Afro and Latino Outdoors. It aims to prepare students to engage more thoughtfully with the Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion efforts they are likely to encounter in the agencies and advocacy organizations with which they may work. Students should leave the course with increased understanding of the equity and social justice issues that exist in public lands management and public lands advocacy organizations as well as knowledge of some of the ways agencies and organizations are attempting to address these issues.
Moreover, students will explore what equitable engagement with public lands might look like. We will ask, what would it look like for agencies to manage public lands for environmental justice? As a core part of this course, students will have the opportunity to work directly with a community organization in the early stages of its own equity process. This work with a community partner will expose students to the messy intersections of theory and praxis.
ENVS 411: Top H2O: Life & Death (4 cr.) (Area 4)
Water as Power, Life, and Death is an interdisciplinary course that will explore water issues using a Critical Environmental Justice (CEJ) framework. Following the four pillars of CEJ as outlined in David Naguib Pellow’s 2018 book What Is Critical Environmental Justice?, the course will include 1) analysis that is attentive to multiple intersecting categories of identity, such as race, ethnicity, class, gender, sexuality, nationality, citizenship, ability, and species, 2) analysis that brings multiple spatial and temporal scales together with attention to the body, 3) interrogation of the role of the state in water issues, and 4) recognition of the indispensability of all human and more-than-human actors. In exploring our local watershed and its major features, this water studies course will consider how water is an agent that affects the lived experience of communities. It will include field trips, visiting scholars and activists, a Community Classroom Connection component, and a final video project to encourage different kinds of engagement and thinking about contemporary water issues. Contact Lisa Fink at firstname.lastname@example.org or click on the e-mail icon above for more information.
ENVS 411: Decolonizing Environmental Justice (4 cr.) (Area 4)
Instructor: J.M. Bacon
In depth examination of a particular environmental topic such as global warming, ecosystem restoration, energy alternatives, geothermal development, public lands management, or environmental literature. Repeatable twice when topic changes for maximum of 12 credits.
ENVS 429: Environmental Leadership (4 cr.) (Area 5)
Partnering with governmental agencies, nonprofit organizations, public schools and local businesses, students develop service learning projects. Repeatable when topic changes.
ENVS 450: Political Ecology (4 cr.) (3B Social Science Core)
Instructor: Peter Walker
Examines how social relations and economic, social, and cultural control of natural resources shape human interactions with the environment. Theory and case studies.
ENVS 467: Sustainable Agriculuture (4 cr.) (3B Sustainable Design & Practice Core)
Instructor: Galen Martin
Examines sustainability issues in agricultural production and current food systems. Focuses on environmental aspects of seed, water, soil, energy, and pest management.
ENVS 201 Intro Environmental Studies: Social Science (4 cr) ( >2)
Instructor: Peter 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.
ENVS 202 Intro Environmental Studies: Natural Science
Instructor: K Russell
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 and Environmental Science 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
Instructor: T Cameron
Earth does not have enough resources to permit humans to have as much of everything as they might want. We are the dominant species; other species currently have standing only insofar as humans care about them. In this capacity, we must often make difficult choices about how the earth’s environmental and natural resources are managed. For example, forests can be preserved in their natural state, harvested selectively and sustainably, clear-cut, or turned into farms, housing developments or shopping malls. Lax pollution regulations can permit industry to prosper, allowing higher wages, lower consumer prices and bigger investment returns for people who are saving for their retirements, or pollution can be tightly controlled to improve human health outcomes and protect ecological systems and their services.
Different constituencies have different levels of desire for each of the range of possible management outcomes. The benefits or costs to individual humans under different management scenarios may be modest but widespread, or they may be large and concentrated among fewer people. The benefits may also accrue to very different groups of people than those who bear the costs. There are often benfits and costs from the way resources are managed that spill over onto third parties- who are not directly involved in the decisions that have been made and who therefore do not have any weight given to their preferences in these choices. Likewise, many resources belong to everyone but no one, and sustainable management is often fundamentally impossible without government intervention in the form of policies and regulations.
We will explore how environmental and natural resource management decisions are made. Given that we need to use at least some natural resources to survive, it is not possible to completely eliminate all mining, fishing, or logging. Likewise, it is not possible to reduce all forms of pollution to zero. But how much of these activities is too much? We will examine some pragmatic criteria and some evidence which can be used to help guide decision-makers who are responsible for setting policies and regulations. We will pay particular attention to circumstances when government intervention is essential because private incentives definitely cannot be relied upon to yield socially desirable outcomes
ENVS 345 Environmental Ethics
Instructor: Jason Schreiner
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?
ENVS 350 Ecol Energy Generation
Instructor: G Bothun
Detailed study of the ecological consequences of all forms of renewable energy generation as well as discussion of our current trajectory and climate change.
Currently, at the global scale, we are living in the most unsustainable period in history and yet the typical consumer remains blissfully ignorant and certainly doesn’t understand or care about why their individual consumption footprint might matter.
Much of the current dilemma can be traced to one root cause: in simple terms – no one cares about doing math anymore – in more precise terms: there seems to be now a total apathy regarding the importance of quantitative reasoning (after all, isn’t there an APP for that anyway?) at virtually all levels of society. The inability to quantitatively understand our consumption scale and plan for the future makes it really impossible to do anything sensible. Urban legend and other wishful myths now become our planning tool. This problem has gotten substantially worse in the last decade. Its one thing to not be able to exercise quantitative reasoning but we are beyond that – now quantitative reasoning is not even thought of as being important.
At the same time we are being told (through media and urban legend) that we are becoming greener and achieving sustainability. This course will critically and quantitatively examining that claim. What matters is not efficiency but overall throughput that human activities impress upon the global ecosystem. The acceleration of greenhouse gas pollution clearly shows that we are the exact opposite of becoming greener.
ENVS 400M/500M Passive Heating
Instructor: Alexandra Rempel
Would it surprise you to learn that passive solar heating can be just as effective in cloudy climates as in sunny
ones? In fact, the overcast winters of the Pacific Northwest, the Great Lakes, and northern coastal Europe have
among the greatest solar heating potentials on Earth. In this course, we will revise a number of traditional ideas
regarding passive solar design in light of contemporary solar radiation modeling, climatology, materials science,
soil science, and computational advances. You’ll learn how to estimate a location’s net solar heating resource; to
find the predominant orientation of that resource (it’s not always due south!); to select and orient solarcollecting
glass optimally; to design thermal mass to store transmitted heat and return it in patterns that match
occupant needs; and to estimate passive solar performance with the most accurate methods available. Pair or
small-group term projects will develop passive solar designs for diverse building types, incorporating spatial,
experiential, and computational components; energy modeling and graphing will be included, but no prior
experience is assumed. This course will participate in the Sustainable City Year program, providing opportunities
for field work, term projects, and planning input to the City of Albany, OR.
ENVS 410 Climate Action Read Sem.
Instructor: Peg Boulay
Through its Community Climate and Energy Action Plan, the City of Eugene has set ambitious
goals for reducing community-wide fossil fuel use and greenhouse gas emissions. Meeting
those goals will require shifts in infrastructure and systems across Eugene, and will ask Eugene
residents to change the way they think about and use fossil fuels. In your spring term “Climate
Action” project, you will assist the City’s efforts in increasing awareness of climate change and
its impacts and in inspiring citizen action through outreach activities, including a social media
campaign framework and tabling activities. This reading course is designed to prepare you for
your spring ELP project by introducing you to your team, community partners, project
background and methods. In addition, you will brainstorm ideas and make a game plan so you
can immediately launch your project spring term
ENVS 410 Forest Ecology
Instructor: Alan Dickman
This course provides an overview of forest ecology, emphasizing forests of the Pacific
Northwest, and also includes discussions of past and current laws and policies affecting
management of forests on public lands in this region.
It is intended for environmental studies and environmental science majors who have not completed and do not
plan to take Bi 213 or Bi 283H which is the prerequisite to take Forest Biology, Bi 307. There is enough overlap
between Bi 307 and this class that students should not take both. Students should have junior or senior
standing and have completed ENVS 202 (if ENVS major) or another similar introductory course in an
environmental science (if ESCI major).
In addition to learning important concepts, we will discuss current issues, we’ll get out in the forest to see firsthand
examples of some local management and stewardship projects, and we will examine complex questions.
You will be required to read, synthesize, analyze, and evaluate.
ENVS 410/510 Consumerism & Environment
Instructor: Galen Martin
Within the current world economy, great disparities between rich and poor persist. A relatively small percentage of the human population has access to a highly disproportionate share of natural resources, capital, information, and technology. At the same time, the economic behavior of this small segment of the population has profoundly altered the earth’s ecosystems. These disparities raise pressing ethical and environmental issues. As the title implies, this course explores the environmental impacts of affluent consumers in the current world economic system. We will attempt to articulate specific relationships, identify areas of environmental and social concern, and explore possible mechanisms for effectively addressing these issues. Key concepts and ideas we will examine include: consumerism, affluence, the ethics of disparity, eco-labeling, full cycle analysis, commodification, green marketing, convivial technology, new consumer societies, voluntary simplicity, DIY, and various alternatives to over-consumption.
My goals for the class are threefold: (1) that you become better informed about the links between consumerism, consumption, and the environment; (2) that you sharpen your critical thinking skills about these relationships through writing, reading, lectures, videos and class discussion; and (3) that we move beyond problem identification towards creative solutions. I will do my best to create an enjoyable atmosphere of respect and intellectual integrity. In turn it is essential that you be committed to taking an active role in your learning process.
ENVS 410 Data Mgmt and Visualization
Instructor: Lauren Hallett
This course covers the non-statistical aspects of the data life cycle, including how to store, clean, visualize
and communicate data (Figure 1). 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 411 Top Food, Trees, Culture
Instructor: J Faye
The purpose of this course is to make students of environmental studies, food studies and
other natural resources disciplines familiar with the major types of sustainable
agroforestry systems used by people in both developed and developing countries and
inform them about the ecological benefits they provide to humans, plants, animals, and to
the environment. This course aims to educate students interested in the interaction of
biophysical, social, political and economic issues underlying the adoption and application
of world agroforestry systems. The lectures emphasize the basic components and
concepts of cognate subjects of agroforestry and human-environment relations. Assigned
readings add training in analyzing complex social and ecological systems and specific
applications such as nut-tree crop combinations, forest farming, carbon farming, and
concepts of climate change adaption.
ENVS 425 Top Env Ed Theory and Practice
Instructor: Katie Lynch
This class is the first quarter of the Environmental Leadership Program’s two-quarter Environmental Education
Initiative. During the winter we will explore various educational theories and the rationale for getting children
outside. We will cultivate our own ecological literacy as we develop our skills as environmental educators.
Developing sensory awareness – both ours and the children we work with – will be central to our mission. You
will work in your team to apply your skills, strengths and creativity towards developing educational materials
that will help children connect to the magnificent natural world. Then during spring term you will deliver your
environmental education program – in the classroom and in the field. This year the three EE teams and
community partners are:
Canopy Connections – H.J. Andrews Experimental Forest and Pacific Tree Climbing Institute
Restoring Connections – Mt. Pisgah Arboretum and Adams Elementary
Cultivating Connections – School Garden Project of Lane County
ENVS 427 Environmental and Ecological Monitoring
Instructor: Peg Boulay
Environmental scientists collect, analyze and share information for a variety of reasons. Your specific
objectives will shape your questions, which in turn, will drive your project design and methods. In the
Environmental Leadership Program’s (ELP) “Conservation Science in Action” projects, students collect and use
information to assist our community partners with ecological research, habitat restoration, management
planning, species conservation and other needs. This course is designed to prepare you for your spring ELP
projects by introducing you to your team, community partners, project background and protocols. We will also
examine the entire process of designing and implementing a monitoring or research program. We will
investigate several local case studies and gain hands-on experience using common techniques to collect,
manage, summarize and present data. ELP projects all use common techniques to address current
conservation issues, so these case studies are relevant to our course work regardless of your affiliation with a
particular ELP project. In addition, we will practice some fundamental skills that all field-based environmental
scientists should know.
ENVS 465 Wetland Ecology/Management
Instructor: S Bridgham
This is an upper-level undergraduate/graduate course that examines management and policy issues relating to wetlands, while providing enough scientific background to understand these issues. The course is divided into three parts (see syllabus). The first section includes an overview of cultural perceptions of wetlands and how these have changed through time, a general description of different types of wetlands, and then a more in-depth discussion of jurisdictional wetland definitions, classification schemes, wetland distributions globally and in the U.S., and current and historical wetland loss rates. The middle section is an introduction to wetland ecology and includes factors controlling their formation and development over time on the landscape, an introduction to hydrology as it pertains to wetlands, hydric soils, and plant community ecology. It focuses on the three main criteria for most definitions of wetlands: hydrology, hydric soils, and hydrophytic vegetation. The last part of the course returns in more depth to the management and policy issues that were introduced in the beginning of the term. We will discuss wetland laws and policy in Oregon, the U.S., and globally, mapping and delineation of wetlands, and wetland restoration and creation.
In a single quarter, we cannot cover all aspects of wetland ecology and/or wetland management. The emphasis of this course is on management and policy issues relating to wetlands, with hopefully enough science provided to properly evaluate these more applied concerns.
Environmental Studies 201 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, conservation, life-cycle analysis and social movements that promote concepts such as environmental justice, and natural and social capital. 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. We will focus on issues that include global warming, consumerism, biodiversity conservation and energy reform.
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. (The course must be taken for a grade in order to satisfy ENVS/ESCI major requirements.)
An exploration of the field of “food studies” and examination of the role of food in historical and contemporary life in the US and around the world.
ENVS 345 Environmental Ethics (>1)
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 philosophical/ethical reasons would you have to refrain from pressing that button? Are there any such reasons? 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? And even 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 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?
How did people design their shelters for thermal comfort, and even thermal delight, before fossil fuels made mechanical heating and cooling possible? This course explores the world’s diversity of climates and biomess, focusing on indigenous building practices developed over centuries of experimentation and innovation. These structures are formed by necessity of local wood, stone, skins, leaves, and earth. They are also often assembled to connect human communities with minimal need for transportation, and they have met great pressures to minimize energy use for providing warmth and coolness. As such, they form the great majority of the world’s truly sustainable buildings, and they offer fascinating lessons for contemporary green design. The goals of this course are to reveal these lessons, to evaluate existing green buildings in light of them, and ultimately to apply them in the redesign of existing projects. This is a seminar course taught through class discussion and field investigation. Discoveries, insights, and experimentation will be synthesized through weekly assignments and a term project.
This course will be an exploration of how cities and regional governments in coastal areas are planning for the impacts of climate change as well as hastening to mitigate carbon pollution through development (or perhaps lack of development), smarter planning, rebuilding infrastructure, and policy. We will be looking at case studies from around the world to critically analyze these strategies from a perspective of social justice and environmental degradation
ENVS 429 Environmental Leadership Program, Destination: Deschutes!
Click Here for Course Syllabus
In this unique expedition-based ELP project, students are assisting U.S. Forest Service botanists at Newberry Volcanic National Monument (part of Deschutes National Forest in Central Oregon). Through multiple camping trips to Newberry caldera, the team is mapping the locations of six priority invasive species. Students are evaluating the success of past control efforts and making management recommendations for the future. In addition, they are revisiting research plots and examining factors that may help conserve whitebark pine, an imperiled keystone species. Watch this space for updates and a link to their website. (This project made possible by the Douglas C. Laidlaw Charitable Fund. Photos from the 2015 Aspen Adventures field expedition).
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.
Chemical and physical characteristics and classification of soils, field soil identification, soil degradation.
2016-2017 Course Description, Information & Syllabi
2015-2016 Course Description, Information & Syllabi
2014-2015 Course Description, Information & Syllabi
2013-2014 Course Description, Information & Syllabi
2012-2013 Course Description, Information & Syllabi
2011-2012 Course Description, Information & Syllabi
2010-2011 Course Description and Information