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Environmental Science | Courses

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  • Environmental Science
    202-885-1750
    Fax: 202-885-1752
    environ@american.edu
    Beeghly, Room 104

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Course Descriptions

ENVS-102: Seminar in Environmental Issues (1)

This seminar for beginning environmental studies majors introduces students to the domain of environmental science as a discipline. The scientific, economic, and social issues underlying major environmental problems are presented through faculty and guest speakers, readings, and discussions. Usually offered every term.

ENVS-150: Sustainable Earth (4) 5:1

This course examines the issue of sustainability; what it means, how it is measured, and how it can be used to address environmental challenges. In doing so, the course builds on the most current scientific understanding of how the natural world works.


ENVS-220: Energy and Resources (3) 5:2

General discussion of the chemistry of our environment, including description of the ideal unpolluted environment and a historic view of pollution. Classes and interactions of pollutants with the environment are described. Emphasis is placed on understanding the chemistry of pollutants and how they affect our quality of life. Usually offered every term. Prerequisite for General Education credit: CHEM-100 or CHEM-110 or PHYS-100 or PHYS-105 or PHYS-110.


ENVS-250: Living in the Environment 5:2 (3)

An introduction to environmental science. This course focuses on key principles that govern how nature works, the interactions between human society and ecosystems, and current and potential solutions to environmental problems. Includes energy flow through ecosystems, properties of natural communities and human societies, resource conservation and management, and environmental ethics. Usually offered every term. Prerequisite for General Education credit: BIO-100 or BIO-110 or PSYC-115.

ENVS-300: Conservation (3)

This course examines conservation issues, especially as they relate to conservation of biodiversity. The course covers early conservation writing, the development of tools that are used in conservation, and the status of biodiversity. Usually offered every fall. Prerequisite: ENVS-250 or BIO-210, or permission of the instructor.

ENVS-324: Environmental Health (3)

This course examines physical, chemical, and biological factors in the environments that impact community health and health behaviors. The concept and method of risk assessment are discussed, as well as how health-supportive environments can be created and maintained. Usually offered every fall.

ENVS-350: Environmental Geology (3)

This course examines important environmental phenomena strongly influenced by geology, including environmental acidification, sedimentation/weathering, fossil fuels, global warming and efforts at mitigation, plate tectonics, and biogeochemical cycles. The class also explores earthquakes, volcanoes, tsunamis, and other natural hazards. A focus of the course is geology as it relates to, or is impacted by, human activities. Usually offered alternate falls.

 

ENVS-360: Environment and the Atmosphere (3)

Description and analysis of the physical phenomena of the earth's atmosphere. Mechanics, fluid dynamics, and thermodynamics of the atmosphere, quantitative analysis of climatic fluctuations and their impact on ecological and economic systems. Climatic changes and climatic control: ozone depletion and greenhouse gases. Usually offered every third semester. Prerequisite: MATH-211 or MATH-221.

 

ENVS-375: Water Resources (3)

A study of the availability, quality, dynamics, and cycles of water. Emphasizes the hydraulic cycle, movement of water in aquifers, floods and droughts, drainage basin analysis, and factors affecting water quality. Meets with ENVS-675. Usually offered every third semester. Prerequisite: MATH-211 or MATH-221.

 

ENVS-390: Independent Reading Course in Environmental Studies (1-6)

Prerequisite: permission of instructor and department chair.

 

ENVS-396: Selected Topics: Non-recurring (1-6)

Topics vary by section, may be repeated for credit with different topic.

 

ENVS-490: Independent Study Project in Environmental Studies (1-6)

Prerequisite: permission of instructor and department chair.

 

ENVS-492: Senior Capstone in Environmental Studies (3)

An in-depth examination of two major sites of environmental concern and controversy from a variety of scientific and social perspectives. One site, such as the Yellowstone Ecosystem, will be of national importance; and one, such as the Anacostia River, will be of local importance. Usually offered every spring. Prerequisite: senior environmental studies majors.

 

ENVS-505: Energy (3)

General overview of sources of energy and the energy problem with a strong focus on the relevant physical concepts. Includes the definition of work, energy, and power, electricity and magnetism, chemical energy, nuclear energy, thermodynamics, and alternative energy sources. Usually offered alternate springs. Prerequisite: ENVS-580, ENVS-581, STAT-514, and STAT-515.

 

ENVS-510: Climatology (3)

Provides a detailed overview of the elements of climatology and the effects of pollution on the environment. Includes the radiation balance of the sun heated planet and how this energy shapes our climate, the physics of the atmosphere, atmospheric circulation, continental and marine climates, and the influences of topography, vegetation, forest and agriculture, air pollution, vehicular travel, urban construction and fossil fuel sources on the climate. Usually offered alternate falls. Prerequisite: ENVS-580, ENVS-581, STAT-514, and STAT-515.

 

ENVS-520: Biogeochemistry (3)

Description and analysis of the physical phenomena occurring on the earth. Earth as a dynamic planet; two major energy systems: hydrologic and tectonic systems. The relationship between geological changes and human activities: human activities change geological materials and processes on the earth, and natural processes and events affect society. Prerequisite: ENVS-580 and ENVS-581.

 

ENVS-572: Topics in Conservation Biology (3)

Topics vary by section, may be repeated for credit with different topic. Rotating topics on current research in conservation biology, including habitat protection, ecosystem management, and captive breeding. Usually offered alternate springs. Prerequisite: BIO-423 or graduate standing, and permission of instructor.

 

ENVS-575: Environmental Risk Assessment (3)

The nature and methods of environmental risk assessment through critical analysis of case histories. The scientific concepts and analytic methods of each case study is explored through solution to sets of specific problems. Case studies include statistical modeling of environmental risk factors, the principle of uncertainty, toxicology, epidemiology, the meaning exposure, types of technical risks, basics of decision analysis, and effective communication of risk assessment results. Usually offered every fall. Prerequisite: advanced undergraduate major or graduate student in environmental studies.

 

ENVS-580: Environmental Science I: A Quantitative Approach (3)

This course starts with the history and overarching concepts of environmental science, and continues with a survey of aspects including population and demographics; agriculture and toxic substances; energy sources, energy utilization, and efficiency; water resources and pollution; local and regional air pollution; and ozone depletion and global warming/climate change. Examples are chosen with a current global perspective. Usually offered every fall.

 

ENVS-581: Environmental Science II: A Quantitative Approach (3)

This course covers geological cycles of nutrients and how biological function is influenced by geological and chemical processes. Resource management, mineral resources, land use, and conservation biology are also covered. What and how information is used in making resource conservation decisions is explored, and current events in environmental science and policy are presented, as well as current efforts in resource/biodiversity conservation, to link the science discussed in class with environmental policy decisions and debates. Usually offered every spring. Prerequisite: ENVS-580.

 

ENVS-582: Environmental Law (3)

An overview of environmental law and environmental regulation for environment scientists and environmental policy analysts. Usually offered alternate springs. Prerequisite: ENVS-580 and ENVS-581 or permission of instructor.

 

ENVS-590: Independent Reading Course in Environmental Studies (1-6)

Prerequisite: permission of instructor and department chair.

 

ENVS-596: Selected Topics: Non-recurring (1-6)

Topics vary by section, may be repeated for credit with different topic.

 

ENVS-675: Hydrology (3)

A study of the availability, quality, dynamics, and cycles of water. Emphasizes the hydraulic cycle, movement of water in aquifers, floods and droughts, drainage basin analysis, and factors affecting water quality. Meets with ENVS-375. Usually offered alternate falls.

 

ENVS-681: Environmental Research Seminar and Practicum (1-3)

An in-depth exploration of real world environmental problems from a variety of science and policy perspectives. Usually offered every term. Prerequisite: ENVS-580 and ENVS-581.

 

ENVS-690: Environmental Science Research (3)

Independent research projects in environmental science. Usually offered every term.

 

ENVS-691: Internship (1-3)

Prerequisite: permission of instructor and department chair.

 

ENVS-696: Selected Topics: Non-recurring (1-6)

Topics vary by section, may be repeated for credit with different topic.