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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.

ENVS Courses

Fall 2020 Courses

ENVS 202 Intro Environmental Studies: Natural Science (4 cr) ( >3)  Russel
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 203 Intro Environmental Studies: Humanities  (4 cr) ( >3)  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. Sample Syllabus
ENVS 225 Intro to Food Studies (4 cr) (>2)[GP][IC]  Martin
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. foodstudies_sitelogo-2l1ontw Sample Syllabus
ENVS 410 Data Management (4 cr) Hallett
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 Outdoor School for All  Lynch
In this class, we will examine Oregon’s Outdoor School for All program – looking at the history, implementation, and outcomes of this statewide initiative on academic success and environmental literacy. We will use a JEDI lens (justice, equity, diversity and inclusion) to examine the efforts of providers and facilities to live up to the goal of “for all.”  Students will hear from an array of guest speakers from across the state who will share their experiences with Outdoor School.
ENVS 410 Avian Conservation Boulay

Birds have aesthetic, scientific, economic, recreational, and ecological value to humans and provide important ecological services such as insect and rodent predation, pollination, and habitat creation. Yet, bird populations have declined precipitously in the past 50 years. They face a long list of threats including habitat loss and fragmentation, invasive species, climate change, illegal harvest, predation, pollution and disease. Birds’ migratory biology requires that we examine these issues across continents and cultures. This course seeks to understand avian ecology concepts, then apply them to understand conservation threats and the practices that can address those threats. After gaining a foundation in avian biology, we will examine how regulations, management plans and large-scale partnerships shape conservation actions such as species protection, habitat conservation and restoration, and reintroduction. In addition, we will learn common field methods for monitoring bird populations, including bird identification.

ENVS 411 Gender and Climate Justice  Moulton
This course engages with human geography, advances in glaciology, and feminist science and technology studies to explore gender and climate justice in glaciated regions. Students will engage with both gender identity and feminist theory as a structuring principle for re-thinking how climate change knowledge is produced and valued.  We will use the framework of climate justice—which demands that we consider multi-faceted questions of power and inequity to understand the unequal distribution of climate change burdens and benefits— to explore three case studies in icy regions: the Andes, the Arctic, and the Pacific Northwest. By the end of the course, students will be able to articulate how gender can be better incorporated into climate change research and how a focus on both gender and feminist theory could help to re-think human-environment interactions. Media analysis will be a critical component the class, since climate science is synthesized and communicated to the public in a variety of contested formats. The course will also focus on data ethics and how to critically analyze bias in data interpretations, including newspapers, editorial articles, and nature documentaries. Students will produce a variety of creative documents, speeches, or performances to communicate their learning to a broader audience.
ENVS 411 Ecomusicology Hilgren
In this course we'll examine the many intersections between sound, music, and environmental justice. We’ll begin by exploring our engagements with the Eugene soundscape - these experiences will serve as launching points for a survey of contemporary ecomusicological research. Through engagement with readings and music, sound art, films, and other media, we will explore the interactions and overlaps between sound/music and such topics as creative environmental activism, ecofeminism, multispecies justice, Indigenous studies and decolonization, critical race theory, and science and technology studies. Throughout the course we'll consider the contributions of sound/musical arts, creative exploration and critique, and arts and humanities scholarship to other areas of environmental inquiry.

Summer 2020 Courses

ENVS 201 Intro Environmental Studies: Social Sciences (4 cr) ( >2)  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)  Bothun
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. Sample Syllabus
ENVS 203 Intro Environmental Studies: Humanities (4 cr) (>1)  Otjen
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.) Sample Syllabus
ENVS 345 Environmental Ethics (>1) Meire
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 411 Ecohorror-Ecocide: The Environmentalist Rhetoric of Fear Maggiulli
Visual renditions present an apocalyptic future New York City that has been flooded by the effects of climate change; playful “creature features” introduce Pacific Northwest youth to the threats of non-native species invasions; Mother Nature fights back in a film where plants release toxins to kill off the human species. The generic structures of the horror genre are harnessed to frame revenge of nature narratives and to garner attention for the immediacy of environmental problems. While constructed with the best of intentions, these narratives often represent troubling conceptions of the “natural” that widen the separation between humans and their environment (or other species) and reinforce problematic conceptions of race, gender, ability, and sexuality.  This course will take a cultural studies approach to identifying where, and how, the genre of ecohorror appears by exploring a broad set of contemporary U.S. cultural artifacts ranging from blockbuster movies to comics and climate activism videos. We will be particularly attentive to horror’s role in science communication by analyzing texts such as USFWS outreach publications, documentaries, news articles, and popular science writing.  We will consider what horror’s generic tropes do for a broader cultural imaginary of environmental degradation and explore potentially productive applications of these tropes. This course should be a generative space for not only students in the environmental humanities and those interested in the social life of science but also for environmental science students who must consider communicating their work to the public.
ENVS 411 Water Justice Fink
Water Justice is an online interdisciplinary course that explores environmental justice issues related to water, such as the Flint water crisis and #NoDAPL, 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?, this course includes 1) analysis that attends 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. It invites students to explore their local watersheds and reflect on how water acts as an agent that affects the lived experiences of their communities. ENVS 411: Water Justice provides an opportunity to learn and practice digital scholarship by creating a digital final project. This course will be of special interest to undergraduate students interested in pursuing nonprofit work or graduate studies. Contact Lisa Fink at lfink@uoregon.edu for more information.

2019-2020 Course Descriptions & Information


2018-2019 Course Description, Information & Syllabi 


2017-2018 Course Description, Information & Syllabi


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


Environmental Studies in the UO Catalog