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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 2017

ENVS 201 Intro Environmental Studies: Social Science (4 cr) ( >2)
Instructor: Martin
Click here for Course Syllabus

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.


ENVS 203 Intro Environmental Studies: Humanities (4 cr) (>1)
Instructor: Lemenager
Click here for Course Syllabus

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.)


ENVS 225 Intro Food Studies (>2) (>IC)
Instructor: Wooten
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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)

Instructor: Morar
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Why should I really care about the environment? What makes environmental issues genuine moral issues?

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?


ENVS 400M/500M Climate-Responsive Design
Instructor: Rempel
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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.



ENVS 411 Coastal Cities & Climate Change
Instructor: Pravin

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 411 Coastal Cities and Climate Change Flyer.pdf - Adobe Acrobat Pro

ENVS 429 Environmental Leadership Program, Destination: Deschutes!
Instructor: Boulay
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).


ENVS 435 Environmental Justice
Instructor: Bacon
Click here for Course Syllabus

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 477/577 Soil Science
Instructor: Silva
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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

Environmental Studies in the UO Catalog