You are here: Course Descriptions

ENVIRONMENTAL STUDIES

ENVS-096 Selected Topics: Non-recurring (0) Course Level: Undergraduate/Graduate

Selected Topics: Non-Recurring (0) Topics vary by section. Repeatable for credit with different topic.

ENVS-099   Course Level: Graduate

ENVS-102 Seminar in Environmental Issues (1) Course Level: Undergraduate

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.

ENVS-150 Nature of Earth FA5 (4) Course Level: Undergraduate

Nature of Earth FA5 (4) This course, which includes a weekly laboratory, covers the scientific principles, concepts, and methodologies required to understand the interrelationships of the natural world; to identify and analyze environmental problems; and to evaluate potential solutions. The course explores the topics of biodiversity and convention, ecology and evolution, population dynamics, nutrient cycling, and ecosystems resources.

ENVS-160 Introduction to Environmental Science I FA5 (4) Course Level: Undergraduate

Introduction to Environmental Science I FA5 (4) Part of a two-course introduction to environmental science focusing on biological aspects of environmental science such as evolutionary biology, ecology and biodiversity, populations, food and agriculture, environmental health, and the impacts of climate change. Usually Offered: fall. Note: Intended for students pursuing an environmental science or environmental studies major or minor.

ENVS-194 Community Service-Learning Project (1) Course Level: Undergraduate

Community Service-Learning Project (1) Grading: Pass/Fail only. Permission: instructor and Center for Community Engagement & Service.

ENVS-196 Selected Topics: Non-recurring (1-6) Course Level: Undergraduate

Selected Topics: Non-Recurring (1-6) Topics vary by section. Repeatable for credit with different topic.

ENVS-220 Energy and Resources FA5 (3) Course Level: Undergraduate

Energy and Resources FA5 (3) An overview of the key ecological, chemical, and physical concepts, principles, and processes that underlie the major natural resource questions currently under public discussion, with a focus on energy and climate. Students examine the pros and cons of various sources of energy (coal, oil, natural gas, nuclear, hydropower, wind, biomasss, tidal, and geothermal) within the framework of sustainable development, including its environmental, economic, and social dimensions. Usually Offered: fall, spring, and summer.

ENVS-230 Parks (3) Course Level: Undergraduate

Parks (3) Parks, especially national parks, play an important role both in the cultural life of Americans and as areas of protection of biodiversity. This course examines the history of parks, the conflicts, both historical and present-day, over the role of parks, and has a special focus on the role of science and scientists in national parks. Usually Offered: spring.

ENVS-250 Living on Earth FA5 (3) Course Level: Undergraduate

Living on Earth FA5 (3) This course covers the scientific principles, concepts, and methodologies required to understand the interrelationships of the natural world, to identify and analyze environmental problems, to critically examine the relative risks associated with these problems, and to evaluate potential solutions. The course explores the topics of water and air pollution, solid waste, weather and climate, energy, and regulations and policy in the context of sustainability. Usually Offered: fall and spring.

ENVS-260 Introduction to Environmental Science II FA5 (4) Course Level: Undergraduate

Introduction to Environmental Science II FA5 (4) Part of a two-course introduction to environmental science focusing on physical science aspects such as geology, water and air pollution and their causes, solid waste, weather and climate, and both conventional and sustainable energy options. Emphasis is on sustainability and meeting environmental challenges. Laboratory relates to lecture topics, emphasizing quantitative tools (lab and field) to gather data for analysis and hypothetical testing, and developing models to project future status based on current information. Usually Offered: spring. Note: Intended for students pursuing an environmental science or environmental studies major or minor.

ENVS-294 Community Service-Learning Project (1) Course Level: Undergraduate

Community Service-Learning Project (1) Grading: Pass/Fail only. Permission: instructor and Center for Community Engagement & Service.

ENVS-296 Selected Topics: Non-recurring (1-6) Course Level: Undergraduate

Selected Topics: Non-Recurring (1-6) Topics vary by section. Repeatable for credit with different topic.

ENVS-300 Conservation (3) Course Level: Undergraduate

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: fall. Prerequisite: BIO-210 or ENVS-250 or ENVS-260.

ENVS-310 Environmental Methods (3) Course Level: Undergraduate

Environmental Methods (3) This is a hands-on, field-based course, with half of the class periods spent outside using environmental science methods to learn about the local environment. Students analyze data from American University's weather station, collect and identify aquatic insects, core trees, dig soil pits, and measure the quantity and quality of stream and ground water. Usually Offered: fall. Prerequisite: ENVS-150 or ENVS-160, and ENVS-250 or ENVS-260, or two General Education Foundational Area 5 laboratory courses.

ENVS-311 Environmental Studies: Turkana Basin Institute (3) Course Level: Undergraduate

Environmental Studies: Turkana Basin Institute (3) Topics vary by section. Offered through AU Abroad at the Turkana Basin Institute (TBI), Turkana, Kenya. Students attend lectures at TBI and conduct research and fieldwork in the Turkana basin. Topics includes the ecology and geology of East Africa. Repeatable for credit with different topic.

ENVS-320 Population Growth and Human Demography (3) Course Level: Undergraduate

Population Growth and Human Demography (3) Overview of human population growth and structure, the history of human demography (especially Europe), and basic mathematical models of population growth. Usually Offered: every other spring.

ENVS-324 Environmental Health (3) Course Level: Undergraduate

Environmental Health (3) Environmental health is concerned with the influence of biological, chemical, and physical agents on human health and potential solutions associated with major environmental problems. This course introduces key terms and concepts used in the field of environmental health, focusing on environmental exposures, human health effects, and appropriate interventions on the local, national, and global scale. Usually Offered: fall. Prerequisite: BIO-110 or ENVS-150 or ENVS-160 or PUBH-110 or SISU-250. Recommendation: BIO-210 or ENVS-260.

ENVS-350 Environmental Geology (3) Course Level: Undergraduate

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

Independent Reading Course in Environmental Studies (1-6) Permission: instructor and department chair.

ENVS-394   Course Level: Undergraduate

Community Service-Learning Project (1) Grading: Pass/Fail only. Permission: instructor and Center for Community Engagement & Service.

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

Selected Topics: Non-Recurring (1-6) Topics vary by section. Repeatable for credit with different topic.

ENVS-410 Environmental Science I (3) Course Level: Undergraduate

Environmental Science I (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 and an eye to policy debates. Crosslist: ENVS-610. Usually Offered: fall.

ENVS-415 Environmental Science II (3) Course Level: Undergraduate

Environmental Science II (3) This course covers the geological cycling of nutrients and elements that are heavily influenced by biological function as well as geochemical processes. The global geochemical cycles of oxygen, hydrogen, sulfur, nitrogen, carbon, etc. are broken down and quantified. The course also covers the origins of the biosphere, biogeochemistry of land and water, climate change scenarios, carbon sequestration, and environmental acidification. Current research articles addressing important areas of environmental science are presented, linking the science discussed in class with environmental policy decisions and debates. Crosslist: ENVS-615. Usually Offered: spring.

ENVS-460 Climatology (3) Course Level: Undergraduate

Climatology (3) This course investigates the physical and energetic exchange mechanisms within the atmosphere through time and space. Climate is examined by reconstructing the past and modeling future trends. Emphasis is placed on large-scale climate patterns, but the processes involved in storm front development also are explored. Topics covered include atmosphere-ocean interaction, wind circulation patterns, atmospheric water vapor and temperature, hurricane and tornado development, and the climate's impact on humans and their response to it. Crosslist: ENVS-660. Usually Offered: alternate springs.

ENVS-465 Environmental Risk Assessment (3) Course Level: Undergraduate

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 are 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. Crosslist: ENVS-665. Usually Offered: fall. Restriction: Environmental Studies (BA) or Environmental Science (BS).

ENVS-470 Water Resources (3) Course Level: Undergraduate

Water Resources (3) A study of the availability, quality, dynamics, and cycles of water. Emphasizes the hydrologic cycle and relevant atmospheric processes, subsurface movement of water, floods and droughts, drainage basin analysis, and factors affecting water quality. Crosslist: ENVS-670. Usually Offered: spring.

ENVS-475 Environmental Toxicology (3) Course Level: Undergraduate

Environmental Toxicology (3) This course combines elements of many scientific disciplines including biology, chemistry, environmental science, and risk assessment. It is the study of the effects of toxic substances on environmental systems and in living organisms including humans. In this course students gain an understanding of the sources of environmental contaminants; examine toxicological methods to assess the fate and effects of environmental chemicals on organisms and the environment; and explore toxic substances of current and emerging concern. The fundamental concepts are reinforced by discussions and projects that draw upon case studies and the peer-reviewed scientific literature. Crosslist: ENVS-675. Usually Offered: alternate springs. Prerequisite: BIO-110 or CHEM-110, ENVS-260, and a minimum of 60 credits.

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

Independent Study Project in Environmental Studies (1-6) Permission: instructor and department chair.

ENVS-491 Internship in Environmental Studies (1-6) Course Level: Undergraduate

Internship in Environmental Studies (1-6) Permission: instructor and department chair.

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

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: fall. Prerequisite: senior standing. Restriction: Environmental Studies (BA) or Environmental Science (BS).

ENVS-496 Selected Topics: Non-Recurring (1-6) Course Level: Undergraduate

Selected Topics: Non-Recurring (1-6) Topics vary by section. Repeatable for credit with different topic.

ENVS-500 Ecohydrology (3) Course Level: Undergraduate/Graduate

Ecohydrology (3) This course examines how hydrological processes at macro and watershed scales influence aquatic ecology. It also examines the influence of velocity, volume, flow path (e.g. overland, groundwater, pipe-flow), and water chemistry on stream biology/ecology. Emphasis is on freshwater and estuarine systems. Students are introduced to quantitative modeling of hydrological processes.

ENVS-505 Energy (3) Course Level: Undergraduate/Graduate

Energy (3) General overview of sources of energy and energy utilization with a focus on the relevant physical concepts, quantification and an emphasis on sustainability. Includes the definition of work, energy, and power; an examination of thermodynamics; different forms of energy and their inter conversion; fossil, nuclear and alternative energy sources; and energy efficiency and conservation. Usually Offered: spring.

ENVS-520 Biogeochemistry (3) Course Level: Undergraduate/Graduate

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.

ENVS-572 Topics in Conservation Biology (3) Course Level: Undergraduate/Graduate

Topics in Conservation Biology (3) Topics vary by section. Rotating topics on current research in conservation biology, including habitat protection, ecosystem management, and captive breeding. Usually Offered: alternate springs. Repeatable for credit with different topic.

ENVS-582 Environmental Law (3) Course Level: Undergraduate/Graduate

Environmental Law (3) An overview of environmental law and environmental regulation for environment scientists and environmental policy analysts. Usually Offered: alternate springs.

ENVS-590 Independent Reading Course in Environmental Studies (1-6) Course Level: Undergraduate/Graduate

Independent Reading Course in Environmental Studies (1-6) Permission: instructor and department chair.

ENVS-596 Selected Topics: Non-recurring (1-6) Course Level: Undergraduate/Graduate

Selected Topics: Non-Recurring (1-6) Topics vary by section. Repeatable for credit with different topic.

ENVS-610 Environmental Science I (3) Course Level: Graduate

Environmental Science I (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 and an eye to policy debates. Crosslist: ENVS-410. Usually Offered: fall.

ENVS-615 Environmental Science II (3) Course Level: Graduate

Environmental Science II (3) This course covers the geological cycling of nutrients and elements that are heavily influenced by biological function as well as geochemical processes. The global geochemical cycles of oxygen, hydrogen, sulfur, nitrogen, carbon, etc. are broken down and quantified. The course also covers the origins of the biosphere, biogeochemistry of land and water, climate change scenarios, carbon sequestration, and environmental acidification. Current research articles addressing important areas of environmental science are presented, linking the science discussed in class with environmental policy decisions and debates. Crosslist: ENVS-415. Usually Offered: spring.

ENVS-660 Climatology (3) Course Level: Graduate

Climatology (3) This course investigates the physical and energetic exchange mechanisms within the atmosphere through time and space. Climate is examined by reconstructing the past and modeling future trends. Emphasis is placed on large-scale climate patterns, but the processes involved in storm front development also are explored. Topics covered include atmosphere-ocean interaction, wind circulation patterns, atmospheric water vapor and temperature, hurricane and tornado development, and the climate's impact on humans and their response to it. Crosslist: ENVS-460.

ENVS-665 Environmental Risk Assessment (3) Course Level: Graduate

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 are explored through solution to sets of specific problems. Case studies include statistical modeling of environmental risk factors, the principle of uncertainty, toxicology, epidemiology, the differing routes of exposure, types of technical risks, basics of decision analysis, and effective communication of risk assessment results. Crosslist: ENVS-465. Usually Offered: fall.

ENVS-670 Water Resources (3) Course Level: Graduate

Water Resources (3) A study of the availability, quality, dynamics, and cycles of water. Emphasizes the hydrologic cycle and relevant atmospheric processes, subsurface movement of water, floods and droughts, drainage basin analysis, and factors affecting water quality. Crosslist: ENVS-470. Usually Offered: spring.

ENVS-675 Environmental Toxicology (3) Course Level: Graduate

Environmental Toxicology (3) This course combines elements of many scientific disciplines including biology, chemistry, environmental science, and risk assessment. It is the study of the effects of toxic substances on environmental systems and in living organisms including humans. In this course students gain an understanding of the sources of environmental contaminants; examine toxicological methods to assess the fate and effects of environmental chemicals on organisms and the environment; and explore toxic substances of current and emerging concern. The fundamental concepts are reinforced by discussions and projects that draw upon case studies and the peer-reviewed scientific literature. Crosslist: ENVS-475. Usually Offered: alternate springs.

ENVS-681 Environmental Practicum (1-3) Course Level: Graduate

Environmental Practicum (1-3) Faculty directed field or laboratory-based environmental science research. Students design and implement a research-intensive project with goal of producing a manuscript for a peer-reviewed publication.

ENVS-690 Environmental Science Research (3) Course Level: Graduate

Environmental Science Research (1-3) Independent research projects in environmental science. Usually Offered: fall and spring.

ENVS-691 Internship in Environmental Studies (1-3) Course Level: Graduate

Internship in Environmental Studies (1-3) Permission: instructor and department chair.

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

Selected Topics: Non-Recurring (1-6) Topics vary by section. Repeatable for credit with different topic.

ENVS-797 Master's Thesis Research (1-6) Course Level: Graduate

Master's Thesis Research (1-6) Grading: SP/UP only.