Summer Course Descriptions

The science component of the concentration is designed to enable students to understand enough science to manage the work of science experts. Our goal is for students to be capable of more than passive consumption or understanding of environmental science. However, we do not expect MPAs to become producers of scientific research. The focus of the environmental science taught in the program is on understanding the ecological processes that directly effect human health and well being.

ENVP U6220 Environmental Chemistry
The course teaches basic techniques for getting to know an environment and understand key chemical processes central to environmental science. Students build an understanding of the key chemical processes related to pollution generation and control. The focuses of this course are the processes that affect the fate and transport of specific compounds that act as contaminants on local- to global-scale levels. The behavior of contaminants is influenced by physical, chemical, and biological processes naturally occurring within various ecosystems. This course describes these processes and the extent to which they affect different classes of contaminants. Students learn how to analyze chemical information they will encounter as environmental managers.

ENVP U6221 Risk Assessment and Environmental Toxicology
This course will explore the effects of different contaminants on the health of all organisms within an ecosystem, with a particular focus on human health. While toxicologists study a wide variety of toxicants, from naturally occurring poisons (venoms) to synthetic chemicals, this course will emphasize anthropogenic toxicants, in the context of how (and whether) exposure to such toxicants should be controlled. The main goal of this course is to foster an understanding of how environmental scientists think and solve environmental issues and most importantly to develop an expertise in assessing the validity of scientific research and its conclusions.

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 changes on interannual, 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, in the last centuries, on the perturbation of the natural climate and how these perturbations can be characterized and discerned from natural fluctuations.  Other concepts examined include an integrated view of the Earth’s energy budget, structure and circulation of the atmosphere and the ocean, interaction between oceans and atmosphere.

ENVP U6116 Hydrology
Students are introduced to the hydrologic cycle as well as processes governing water quantity and quality. Students learn how the atmosphere, oceans, and freshwater systems interact to affect the hydrological cycle and climate. This 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. Most specifically, students will be exposed to water quantity and issues from global to regional scales and how human and natural processes affect water availability in surface and groundwater systems.

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.

ENVP U6112 Urban Ecology
This course facilitates learning about 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 wells as the social, philosophical and economic dimensions of land use strategies.  The course will focus on applications and problem-solving in issues related to urban development.

ENVP U6241 Earth Systems and Environmental Politics, Policy, and Management
This is the first social science course in the earth systems concentration. Its goal is to take a system-level approach to environmental policy problems. Issues presented include defining the 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.

ENVP U6246 Analytics for Environmental Science
This 1‐credit course provides a brief introduction to the quantitative skills required to effectively analyze environmental policy decisions. The course is divided into two sections: 1) Geographic Information Systems and 2) Quantitative Math Review. Geographic Information Systems (GIS): are 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. Quantitative Review: This section will present the mathematical foundations and basic quantitative skills required to effectively master the environmental science, economics, and statistical and quantitative analysis coursework in the Environmental Science and Policy MPA program.

ENVP U9229-U9230 The Workshop in Applied Earth Systems Management I and II
In the summer and autumn semesters, the Workshop emphasizes management issues. Students enroll in small, faculty-advised project teams and design a detailed operational plan for addressing an important public policy problem. 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 a management problem to political decision-makers who are not scientists. During the autumn semester the Workshop completes the operational plan for implementing the program. Both the summer and autumn Workshop projects will be on issues central to the two earth systems problem themes that the cohort will focus on throughout their course of study.