Course Descriptions

Summer Courses
Fall Courses
Spring Courses


Summer Courses

The courses in basic applied environmental science enable students to understand and manage the work of scientists. Some math and science preparation is helpful to students, but it is not necessary to succeed in these courses. In additional to science, students take the first of three workshop classes in which they apply their newly gained scientific knowledge to analyze the scientific issues behind a sustainability problem and to communicate their analyses to decision-makers.

ENVP U6220 Environmental Chemistry

The course teaches basic techniques for understanding particular environments and the key chemical processes of environmental science, including those that have to do with pollution generation and control. The purpose of the course is to teach students how to analyze chemical information that they will encounter as environmental managers. The focus is on chemical contaminants on local-to global-scale levels. Students learn how these contaminants are influenced by the physical, chemical, and biological processes that naturally take place in ecosystems.   Course Syllabus

ENVP U6221 Risk Assessment and Environmental Toxicology
The purpose of this course is to foster an understanding of how environmental scientists think and solve environmental issues, and to develop an expertise in assessing the validity of scientific research and its conclusions. The course explores the effects of contaminants on human health and the health of other living beings within an ecosystem. While toxicologists study a wide variety of toxicants, from naturally occurring poisons (venoms) to synthetic chemicals, this course will emphasize anthropogenic toxicants, and whether and how exposure to these chemicals should be controlled.  Course Syllabus

ENVP U6115 Climatology
Students learn how the atmosphere, oceans, and freshwater systems interact to affect climate. Causes of greenhouse warming, energy production and alternatives are studied. A local case study focuses on planning for climate change on inter-annual, decadal, and centennial time scales. A goal of the course is to teach an appreciation of uncertainties and predictability in earth systems.  A particular emphasis will be placed on the role of humans over the last centuries, in the perturbation of the natural climate. Students will learn how these perturbations can be characterized and distinguished from natural fluctuations. The course will also examine an integrated view of the Earth’s energy budget, structure and circulation of the atmosphere and the ocean, and the interaction between oceans and atmosphere. Course Syllabus

ENVP U6116 Hydrology
Students are introduced to the hydrologic cycle, as well as to processes governing water quantity and quality. Students learn how the atmosphere, oceans, and freshwater systems interact to affect the hydrological cycle and climate. The course focuses on basic physical principles (evaporation, condensation, precipitation, runoff, stream flow, percolation, and groundwater flow), as well as environmentally relevant applications based on case studies. Students are exposed to water issues from global to regional scales, and to the ways that humans affect water availability in surface and groundwater systems. Course Syllabus

ENVP U6111 Principles of Ecology
This course facilitates learning about 1) basic principles related to ecological interactions of life on earth and 2) the causes and consequence of changes in biological diversity. For the first portion of this course, we will focus on how organisms interact with one another and with the non-living environment. For the second portion of this course, we will study the effects of biodiversity at the genetic, population, community, and landscape levels. This course aims to give students an understanding of the ways in which biology can contribute to the solution of environmental problems facing human society and to contribute biological perspectives to an interdisciplinary approach to environmental problem solving.  Course Syllabus

ENVP U6112 Urban Ecology
Students learn how ecology can inform land use decisions and applied management strategies of natural resources (e.g. water, air, biodiversity), particularly in urban environments. The course covers topics ranging from applied ecology and conservation biology to sustainable development. It uses a cross-disciplinary approach to understanding the nature of ecology and biological conservation, as well as the social, philosophical and economic dimensions of land use strategies. Course Syllabus

ENVP U6241 Earth Systems and Environmental Politics, Policy, and Management
This first social science course takes a system-level approach to environmental policy problems. Students learn about defining an environmental problem; the politics of the environment; environmental agenda setting; pollution prevention; U.S. pollution control through regulation, public works, and market incentives; cross-media and cross-national environmental problems; and the response of societies, economies, and political systems to environmental issues. The course also discusses international environmental regime development, conflict resolution, and citizen participation in environmental decision-making. Course Syllabus

ENVP U6246 Analytics for Environmental Science
This 1‐point short course provides a brief introduction to the quantitative skills required to analyze environmental policy decisions. The course is divided into two sections: 1) Geographic Information Systems and 2) Quantitative Math Review.

  • Geographic Information Systems (GIS) is a system of computer software, data and analysis methods used to create, store, manage, digital information that allow us to create maps and dynamic models to analyze the physical and social processes of the world. This course is designed to provide students with an overview of theoretical concepts underlying GIS systems and to give students a set of practical skills to use GIS for sustainable development research.
  • The Quantitative Review presents the mathematical foundations and basic quantitative skills required to master the environmental science, economics, and statistical and quantitative analysis coursework in the program.

ENVP U9229-U9230 The Workshop in Applied Earth Systems Management I and II
In the summer and fall semesters, the Workshop emphasizes management issues. Students enroll in small, faculty-advised project teams. Each Workshop faculty member selects a piece of proposed, but not yet enacted, state, federal, or local environmental law (or a U.N. resolution), and students are asked to develop a plan for implementing and managing the new program. In the summer semester, the Workshop groups write reports explaining the environmental science aspects of the issue that the legislation addresses and the management solutions that the legislation would put into place. In the fall semester, the Workshop completes the operational plan for implementing the program.

Fall Courses

ENVP U6234 Sustainability Management

The course translates the academic study of organization theory, bureaucracy, and public management into practical lessons for sustainability professionals. We develop a framework for understanding and applying tools that can be used to influence organizational behavior and obtain resources from the organization’s environment. Earth systems-related case studies present a set of problems for public managers to address. Case studies deal with public, private, and nonprofit environmental management, in the United States and internationally. Course Syllabus

ENVP U6310 Quantitative Techniques and Systems Analysis in Policy making
Students learn quantitative techniques of organizational decision-making, including how to formulate and design policy questions amenable to empirical inquiry, as well as how to identify and apply specific measurement and analytic methods appropriate to particular questions. Students are also introduced to the foundations of systems analysis: how to model and understand the design, operation, and impact of a system. Course Syllabus

ENVP U8213-U8216 Microeconomics and Policy Analysis I and II
This two-semester course demonstrates that it is both possible and useful to think about public policy rigorously: to examine underlying assumptions; to understand how formal models operate; to question vagueness and clichés; and to make sophisticated ethical arguments. An important goal of the class is to have students work in groups as they apply microeconomic concepts to current public policy issues having to do with urban environmental and earth systems. The course includes problem sets designed to teach core concepts and their application. In the spring semester, the emphasis is on the application of concepts to analyze contemporary policy problems. Some time is also devoted to international trade and regulation, and industrial organization issues. Students not only learn microeconomic concepts, but also how to explain them to decision-makers. Student groups take on specific earth system policy issues, analyze options through the use of microeconomic concepts, and then make oral presentations to the class. Syllabus

ENVP U6225 Ethics, Values, and Justice
This course examines the way in which the earth has been viewed by various societies and cultures today and over time. Differing views of the relationship of humans to the environment are discussed and debated, and the impact of ethical systems on environmental policy and practices are described and analyzed. Environmental values, perceptions, norms, and behaviors are studied and analyzed. The course also examines the environmental policy and management process from the standpoint of ethics, as distinct from efficiency, effectiveness, expertise, cost, or other organizational considerations. Attempts are made to discover some guidelines for ethical stewardship of the planet and for formulating policy decisions with ethical considerations factored in. Course Syllabus

ENVP U9229-U9230 The Workshop in Applied Earth Systems Management I and II
In the summer and fall semesters, the Workshop emphasizes management issues. Students enroll in small, faculty-advised project teams. Each Workshop faculty member selects a piece of proposed, but not yet enacted, state, federal, or local environmental law (or a U.N. resolution), and students are asked to develop a plan for implementing and managing the new program. In the summer semester, the Workshop groups write reports explaining the environmental science aspects of the issue that the legislation addresses and the management solutions that the legislation would put into place. In the fall semester, the Workshop completes the operational plan for implementing the program.

Students must also enroll in one elective course. (3 points)

Spring Courses

ENVP U8213-U8216 Microeconomics and Policy Analysis I and II

This two-semester course demonstrates that it is both possible and useful to think about public policy rigorously: to examine underlying assumptions; to understand how formal models operate; to question vagueness and clichés; and to make sophisticated ethical arguments. An important goal of the class is to have students work in groups as they apply microeconomic concepts to current public policy issues having to do with urban environmental and earth systems. The course includes problem sets designed to teach core concepts and their application. In the spring semester, the emphasis is on the application of concepts to analyze contemporary policy problems. Some time is also devoted to international trade and regulation, and industrial organization issues. Students not only learn microeconomic concepts, but also how to explain them to decision-makers. Student groups take on specific earth system policy issues, analyze options through the use of microeconomic concepts, and then make oral presentations to the class. Course Syllabus

ENVP U8201 Financial Management
The course introduces students to budgeting and financial control as a means of influencing the behavior of organizations. Concepts include the budget process and taxation, intergovernmental revenues, municipal finance, bonds, control of expenditures, purchasing, debt management, productivity enhancement, and nonprofit finance. Students learn about the fiscal problems that managers typically face, and how they seek to address them. Students also gain experience in conducting financial analysis and facility with spreadsheet programs. Case materials utilize earth systems issues and other policy issues. A computer lab section is an essential aspect of the course, as it teaches students to use spreadsheet software to perform practical exercises in budgeting and financial management. Course Syllabus

ENVP U9232 The Workshop in Applied Earth Systems Policy Analysis
In the spring semester, new groups are formed to undertake analytic projects for real-world clients in government and nonprofit agencies. These teams, working under the supervision of faculty members, write a report analyzing an actual environmental policy or management problem faced by their clients. Again, projects selected will be relevant to the cohort’s two earth systems problem themes.

Students must also enroll in two elective courses. (6 points)