Environmental Studies

Environmental Studies is an interdisciplinary field that draws on knowledge and analytical tools from many areas of study to understand the function of natural ecosystems, the effects of human societies on the environment, and the role that the environment has played in shaping human cultures and artistic endeavors. The major in Environmental Studies prepares students for careers in policy-making, education, conservation, government service, research, and the arts. Students will also be well prepared to work for non-governmental organizations or enter into post-graduate studies in environmental law, urban planning, and scientific disciplines such as ecology.

Major Program

The student learning outcomes of the major are:
I. to understand the fundamental scientific principles that govern the operation of natural ecosystems;
II. to gain an appreciation for the effects of the human economic activities and governmental policies on the environment;
III. to explore ethical, spiritual, cultural, and psychological dimensions of human relationships to nature;
IV. to consider the ways in which the natural world has inspired creative endeavors in literature and the arts;
V. to integrate material from the various disciplines into a coherent framework for understanding the role of humans in the environment

To ensure a broad and multidisciplinary background in the study of the environment, all students will take courses from the following three areas of study:
1) Science and the Biosphere (scientific approaches to understanding environmental issues),
2) Human Institutions and the Environment (policy, economic, and educational viewpoints on human relationships with nature), and
3) Creative and Spiritual Perspectives on Nature (artistic, philosophical, and spiritual considerations). Students will also complete a senior capstone experience that will integrate two of the three areas of study.


Professional Development in Environmental Studies: Throughout her Wesleyan education each student is given opportunities to explore professional and career choices, and to develop and demonstrate the knowledge and skills essential for professional success. Each student will complete a PDE 400 Professional Development Experience and submit a PDE 401 Professional ePortfolio prior to graduation. As part of the general education program, each student must "develop her understanding of how a liberal arts education enhances students' preparation for careers and further professional growth" (general education learning objective #7). In the Environmental Studies major, this requirement is met by completion of 1 hour of PDE 400, Professional Development Experience, in which she completes a professional experience such as an internship, independent research, community service, or another approved project. The PDE may be accomplished either in or out of the major.

Integrative Experience in Environmental Studies: An integrative experience is required of each student as part of the general education program. In the Environmental Studies major, this requirement is met by completion of ESC 410, Senior Integrative Project, in which the student designs and completes an interdisciplinary project that encourages her to make connections among the various parts of her course of study, including her general education and major courses. The project will also require that the student incorporates material from at least two of the three disciplinary areas of study within the Environmental Studies major.

Major requirements: Environmental Studies. (41 hours)

I. Science and the Biosphere (16 hours)
ESC 150 Principles of Environmental Science 4 hours
ESC/BIO 208 Field Biology 4 hours
ESC/BIO 280 Ecology 4 hours
ESC/BIO 360 Conservation Biology 4 hours
 
II. Human Institutions and the Environment (12 hours)
Complete two courses from two of the following clusters:
ECO 104 Issues in Microeconomics (required for this cluster) 3 hours
ECO 206 Economic Thought 3 hours
ECO 302 International Trade 3 hours
ECO 325 Environmental Economics 3 hours
 
EDS 114 Understanding Learning 3 hours
EDS 313 Children, Nature and Society 3 hours
 
POL 115 American Politics 3 hours
POL 230 International Relations 3 hours
POL 300 Foundations of Political Thought 3 hours
POL 342 International Organizations 3 hours
POL 356 Activism and Political Organization 3 hours
 
III. Creative and Spiritual Perspectives on Nature (9 hours)
Complete three courses from the following list:
ARH 235 Outside the Mainstream 3 hours
ARH 354 Women's Issues in Contemporary Art 3 hours
ART 108 3-D Design 3 hours
ART 225 Graphic Design 3 hours
ART 241 Sculpture 3 hours
ART 318 Intermediate 3-D Studio 3 hours
ENG 111 Analyzing Literature 3 hours
ENG 161 Creative Writing 3 hours
ENG 235 Narratives of Nature: American Literature and Environmental Studies 3 hours
PHI 223 Ethics 3 hours

IV. Senior Seminar or Senior Project (1 hour)
ESC 410 Senior Integrative Project 1 hour

V. Additional course work (3 hours)
Electives may include any of the courses listed above, plus ESC 396, ESC 451 and ESC 452.

The 41 hours required for the major must include at least 12 hours at the 300-level or higher.
 

Minor Requirements: Environmental Science (32 hours)

ESC 150 Principles of Environmental Science 4 hours
ESC/BIO 208 Field Biology 4 hours
ESC/BIO 360 Conservation Biology 4 hours
BIO 110 Principles of Biology I - Biological Processes 4 hours
BIO 112 Principles of Biology II - Diversity of Biological Systems 4 hours
CHM 101 General Chemistry I 4 hours
CHM 102 General Chemistry II 4 hours
CHM 240 Quantitative Analysis 4 hours
 

Environmental Science (ESC) Gen. Ed. Course Description

150: Principles of Environmental Science.
Goal: To appreciate that the Earth and its living systems sustain humankind, and to understand how the agricultural and industrial activities of human societies modify biogeochemical cycles and transform natural ecosystems, often to the detriment of ourselves and other species.
Content: An introduction to environmental sciences, an interdisciplinary field integrating concepts from ecology, chemistry, politics, and economics. The focus is on interactions between people and the environment, with specific topics including: human population growth; fuels and energy; pollution of air, water and soil; human alterations to global biogeochemistry, including global warming and acid rain; and responses of human societies to environmental issues. Laboratory exercises will take place in the lab and in the field.
Taught: Fall.
Gen. Ed. Category: Exploring; How the natural world functions; (SM).
Credit: 4 hours.


Environmental Science (ESC) Other Course Descriptions

208: Field Biology.
Goal: To practice field techniques and quantitative skills commonly used in outdoor scientific disciplines. To learn to identify the conspicuous plant and animal species of Georgia and consider how they are adapted to their environments.
Content: Students will be introduced to the flora, fauna, and ecosystems of the southeastern United States in this field-intensive course. Emphasis will be on practical aspects of conducting scientific investigation outdoors, namely: taxonomic skills, field identification of plants and animals, use of dichotomous keys, techniques for sampling and describing natural populations and communities, and quantitative skills for analysis of data.
Taught: Fall. Alternate Years.
Prerequisites: BIO 110 and BIO 112; or ESC 150.
Credit: 4 hours; cross-listed as BIO 208.

280: Ecology.
Goal: To understand the interrelationships between living organisms and their physical and biological environment. To develop a broad understanding of the field of ecology. To conduct ecological research.
Content: Ecological principles at the level of the individual, population, community, and ecosystem. Specific topics include nutrient cycles, flow of energy in ecosystems, population dynamics, evolutionary ecology, life histories, competition and other community interactions, succession, and island biogeography. Current topics in anthropogenic global change.
Taught: Fall. Alternate years.
Prerequisites: BIO 110 and 112; or ESC 150.
Credit: 4 hours; cross-listed as BIO 280.

360: Conservation Biology.
Goal: To understand the reasons why many species are endangered, to examine possible solutions, and to consider the ethical and ecological ramifications of species extinctions. To appreciate the interdisciplinary nature of conservation biology by considering issues ranging from the level of the gene to the scale of the entire biosphere.
Content: Students read, review, and discuss current literature in this speaking-intensive course. Students will conduct both laboratory- and field-based studies. Topics include defining diversity, threats to biodiversity, population genetics of rare species, conservation strategies and nature preserves, and legal and ethical issues.
Taught: Spring. Alternate years.
Prerequisites: BIO 110 and 112; or ESC 150.
Credit: 4 hours; cross-listed as BIO 360.
 
396: Special Topics in Environmental Studies.
Goal: To provide an opportunity to explore topics outside those offered elsewhere within the environmental studies curriculum or to explore in greater detail a subject covered by another course.
Content: An in-depth examination of a special topic within environmental studies. Topics will vary from semester to semester.
Taught: Offered occasionally.
Prerequisites: ESC 150 or permission of the instructor.
Credit: 3, 4 hours. A student may take a maximum of six to eight semester hours (two courses) of special topics in any one field.

410: Senior Integrative Project in Environmental Studies.
Goal: To provide a capstone experience for majors in which students complete an interdisciplinary project that encourages the student to make connections among the various parts of her course of study. To prepare for careers and professional growth by discussing future goals and reflecting on past collegiate experiences, both in the major and in the general education curriculum.
Content: In consultation with a faculty project advisor, each student will design an interdisciplinary project that integrates her general education and elective courses, major courses, and, where appropriate, workplace experience. The project will also require that the student incorporates material from at least two of the three disciplinary areas of study in the major. Students will also critique resumes and prepare cover letters for a variety of postgraduate opportunities.
Taught: Fall.
Prerequisites: Declared major in Environmental Studies; Senior class academic standing; ESC 150.
Credit: 1 hour.

451: Directed Independent Study.
Goal: To enable an intensive exploration of a topic of special interest. To promote original, independent, creative, and critical thinking from an environmental perspective. To solve real problems in a scientific manner. To provide an opportunity to conduct independent laboratory work and to learn new techniques.
Content: Directed independent work of a critical or analytical nature. Under careful faculty supervision, qualified student are encouraged to develop originality of thought and thoroughness of method. Some emphasis is placed on research methods.
Taught: Upon request of student, with approval of sponsoring faculty.
Prerequisites : Permission of the program director.
Credit: 1-6 hours.

452: Field Study.
Goal: To afford actual experience in an environmental laboratory, consulting, or advising capacity.
Content: Applied areas in environmental science may be considered for internship credit. The student must submit a brief plan including objectives, anticipated activities, a list of readings, and the nature of the reports to be submitted to the sponsor.
Taught: Offered occasionally.
Prerequisites: Permission of advisor, program director, faculty sponsor, and the Director of Career Development.
Credit: 1-12 hours.

499: Honors Thesis. (Fee required)
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