Environmental Studies Minor Requirements

2014 - 2015 Catalog

Environmental Studies minor

A minor in environmental studies requires completion of the following 25 or 26 credits. In meeting the requirements of this interdisciplinary minor, a student must use at least nine credits that are not also used to meet the requirements of any other major or minor. A student may not complete both a major and a minor in environmental studies.

  1. Required courses: ENV 110, 397
  2. Social Sciences: one course from each of the following two areas.
    1. ECON 101; POL 100
    2. ECON 255; ENV 295; POL 233
  3. Natural and Physical Sciences: one course from each of the following two areas.
    1. BIOL 101; GEOL 100 or 101
    2. BIOL 217, 245, 246, 322; ENV 250, GEOL 141, 150
  4. Humanities: two courses chosen from ENGL 380 (when appropriate), 294; ENV 207, 395; PHIL 150, 280; REL 207, 224 (ANTH 224).

Most of these courses fulfill certain general education or foundation and distribution requirements and may be applicable to the majors in each of the departments.

  1. Required courses:
    • ENV 110 - Introduction to Environmental Studies

      FDR: SS5
      Credits: 3
      Planned Offering: Fall, Winter
      Credits: 3


      Prerequisite: First-year or sophomore standing or instructor consent.

      An interdisciplinary introduction to environmental studies with an emphasis on how societies organize themselves through their social, political and economic institutions to respond to environmental problems. The course begins with a discussion of the development of environmental thought, focusing on the relationship between humans and the environment. Participants then discuss alternative criteria for environmental decision making, including sustainability, equity, ecological integrity, economic efficiency, and environmental justice. The course concludes with an examination of contemporary environmental issues, including global warming, invasive species, energy and the environment, tropical deforestation, and the relationship between the environment and economic development in developing countries.

    • ENV 397 - Senior Seminar in Environmental Studies

      Credits: 3
      Planned Offering: Winter
      Credits: 3


      Prerequisites: ENV 110 and completion of any two of the three remaining areas for the Program in Environmental Studies, and instructor consent.

      An interdisciplinary capstone course intended for students in the environmental studies program. Students analyze a particular environmental issue and attempt to integrate scientific inquiry, political and economic analysis and ethical implications. The particular issue changes each year.

  2. Social Sciences:
  3. one course from each of the following two areas:

      • ECON 101 - Principles of Microeconomics

        FDR: SS1
        Credits: 3
        Planned Offering: Fall, Winter
        Credits: 3


        Survey of economic principles and problems with emphasis on analysis of consumer behavior, firm behavior, market outcomes, market structure, and microeconomic policy. The first half of a two-term survey of economics. Should be followed by ECON 102.

      • POL 100 - American National Government

        FDR: SS2
        Credits: 3
        Planned Offering: Fall, Winter
        Credits: 3


        A study of the constitutional origins and historical development of the national government with special attention to Congress, the presidency, the judiciary, and the role of political parties, interest groups, and the media in the policy process.

      • ECON 255 - Environmental and Natural Resource Economics

        Credits: 3
        Planned Offering: Winter
        Credits: 3


        Prerequisite: ECON 101. Economics and environmental studies majors/minors will have priority during the initial registration.

        The course serves as an introduction to environmental and natural resource economics. Economic principles are used to evaluate public and private decision making involving the management and use of environmental and natural resources. Aspects pertaining to fisheries, forests, species diversity, agriculture, and various policies to reduce air, water and toxic pollution will be discussed. Lectures, reading assignments, discussions and exams will emphasize the use of microeconomic analysis for managing and dealing with environmental and natural resource problems and issues.

      • ENV 295 - Special Topics in Environmental Studies

        Credits: 3
        Planned Offering: Offered when interest is expressed and departmental resources permit
        Credits: 3


        Prerequisites: ENV 110 or BIOL 111.

        This courses examines special topics in environmental studies, such as ecotourism, the environment and development, local environmental issues, values and the environment, global fisheries, global climate change, tropical deforestation and similar topics of importance, which could change from year to year. This is a research-intensive course where the student would be expected to write a significant paper, either individually or as part of a group, of sufficient quality to be made useful to the scholarly and policy communities. May be repeated for degree credit if the topics are different.

      • POL 233 - Environmental Policy and Law

        FDR: SS2
        Credits: 3
        Planned Offering: Winter
        Credits: 3


        Prerequisite: ECON 101 or POL 100.

        A study of major environmental laws and the history of their enactment and implementation. Discusses different theoretical approaches from law, ethics, politics, and economics. Reviews significant case law and the legal context. Emphasis is on domestic policy with some attention to international law and treaties.

  4. Natural and Physical Sciences:
  5. one course from each of the following two areas:

      • BIOL 101 - Environmental Biology: Endangered Plants of the Appalachians

        FDR: SL
        Credits: 4
        Planned Offering: Spring
        Credits: 4


        Using case studies in plant endangerment as a focal point for understanding ecological and evolutionary processes and the impact of human activities on biodiversity, students gain fundamental insight into their relationship with the living world and the importance of preserving biological diversity through a combination of targeted readings, intensive discussions, and basic research in the field, Field activities take place in regional hotspots of plant endemism and give students experience in applied conservation research. Field sites and subject species vary from year to year.

      • GEOL 100 - General Geology with Field Emphasis

        FDR: SL
        Credits: 4
        Planned Offering: Fall
        Credits: 4


        Prerequisite: Open to First-years or sophomores only. Instructor consent for juniors and seniors is rarely given. GEOL 100A is open to FY students only.

        The study of our physical environment and the processes shaping it. The materials and structure of the Earth's crust, the origin of the landforms, the concept of geologic time, and the nature of the Earth's interior are considered, with special emphasis on field study in the region near Lexington. No credit for students who have completed GEOL 101. Offered on occasion as a First-Year Seminar. Contact the instructor for additional information. Laboratory course.

        GEOL 100 FS: General Geology with Field Emphasis (4): First-Year Seminar.

      • or
      • GEOL 101 - General Geology

        FDR: SL
        Credits: 4
        Planned Offering: Winter
        Credits: 4


        Prerequisite: Instructor consent required. Preference given to First-years and sophomores.

        The study of our physical environment and the processes shaping it. The materials and structure of the Earth's crust, the origin of the landforms, the concept of geologic time, and the nature of the Earth's interior are considered. No credit for students who have completed GEOL 100. Laboratory course.

      • BIOL 217 - Aquatic Ecology

        Credits: 4
        Planned Offering: Fall 2013 and alternate years
        Credits: 4


        Prerequisite: BIOL 111 and 113; MATH 101 or higher; or instructor consent.

        This course provides a comprehensive introduction to the ecology of freshwater systems, with laboratory emphasis on streams and rivers in the local area. It includes a review of the physical and biological properties of freshwater ecosystems as well as current issues relating to their conservation. Laboratory activities focus around monitoring the impacts of current stream restoration efforts in local watersheds.

      • BIOL 245 - Ecology

        Credits: 4
        Planned Offering: Fall
        Credits: 4


        Prerequisites: BIOL 111 and 113.

        An introduction to the study of interactions between organisms and their environments. Topics are arranged hierarchically: a) evolution and elementary population genetics; b) population dynamics and regulation; c) interspecific competition, predation, parasitism and symbiosis; d) community structure, energy and material flux in ecosystems. Laboratory is field oriented and investigative. Laboratory course.

      • BIOL 246 - Biological Diversity: Patterns and Processes

        FDR: SC
        Credits: 3
        Planned Offering: Offered when interest if expressed and faculty resources permit
        Credits: 3


        Prerequisites: BIOL 111 and 113 or instructor consent.

        How are plants and animals distributed on Earth, and how do important biogeographical patterns reflect ecological and evolutionary processes? The answers to these questions are crucial to conservation efforts and to predicting changes in "biodiversity" during a time of unprecedented, rapid global environmental change.

      • BIOL 322 - Conservation Genetics

        Credits: 3
        Planned Offering: Winter 2014 and alternate years
        Credits: 3


        Prerequisite: BIOL 220 or instructor consent.

        A study of the central issues of population genetics and their application to species preservation and conservation. Topics include genetic surveys of rare or threatened species; population structure and dispersal; inferring population histories from genetic data; phylogenetics of threatened species' groups; hybridization between species; the use of genetic data in captive breeding programs and the prosecution of endangered species legislation; and the use of biotechnologies, such as cloning.

      • ENV 250 - Ecology of Place

        Credits: 4
        Planned Offering: Spring 2013 and alternate years
        Credits: 4


        Prerequisite: Instructor consent.

        Think globally, study locally. This course explores globally significant environmental issues such as biodiversity conservation, sustainable delivery of ecosystem goods and services, and environmental justice, as they are manifested on a local/regional scale. We examine interactions among ethical, ecological, and economic concerns that shape these issues. Students are fully engaged in the development of policy recommendations that could guide relevant decision makers. The course incorporates readings, field trips, films, and discussions with invited experts.

      • GEOL 141 - Global Climate Change

        FDR: SC
        Credits: 3
        Planned Offering: Not offered in 2014-2015
        Credits: 3


        A study of Earth's complex climate system and the impact of human activities on future climates. Through readings, discussions, data analyses and modeling exercises, the past and future changes in temperature, ocean circulation, rainfall, storminess, biogeochemistry, glacial ice extent and sea level are explored.

      • GEOL 150 - Water Resources

        FDR: SC
        Credits: 3
        Planned Offering: Winter 2015
        Credits: 3


        An examination of the quality and quantity of water resources as a limiting factor for life on earth. Issues include resource depletion, pollution, historical use and over-use, remediation, habitat maintenance, and water supply mechanisms. Resource constraints are analyzed from a scientific perspective in order to understand water resource problems and envision solutions.

  6. Humanities:
  7. two courses chosen from:

    • ENGL 380 - Advanced Seminar (when appropriate)

      FDR: HL
      Credits: 3 in fall or winter, 4 in spring
      Planned Offering: Fall, Winter, Spring
      Credits: 3 in fall or winter, 4 in spring


      Prerequisite: ENGL 299. Enrollment limited.

      A seminar course on a topic, genre, figure, or school (e.g. African-American women's literature, epic film, Leslie Marmon Silko, feminist literary theory) with special emphasis on research and discussion. The topic will be limited in scope to permit study in depth. Student suggestions for topics are welcome. May be repeated for degree credit if the topics are different.

      Fall 2014 topics:

      ENGL 380-01: Advanced Seminar: Cormac McCarthy (3). A study of selected works by one of America's most renowned post-modern authors, who treats shocking subjects in an inimitable style. McCarthy has developed gradually over the last 50 years from a struggling writer and auto parts worker too poor to buy toothpaste to a number one box office draw, winner of the Pulitzer Prize, eager candidate for the Nobel Prize, and author of a major motion picture. Our key questions: Why is McCarthy so famous now? How does he do it? What do his works say to us that we are drawn to hear? (HL) Smout. Fall 2014

      ENGL 380-02: Advanced Seminar: Celluloid Shakespeare (3). The films adapted from or inspired by William Shakespeare's plays are a genre unto themselves. We study a selection of films, not focused on their faithfulness to the original playscript, but on the creative choices and meanings of the distinct medium of film. We see how the modern era has transmuted the plays through the lens of contemporary sensibility, politics, and culture--and through this new visual mode of storytelling. This course is very much an exploration of how to interpret and appreciate film broadly, as we learn the concepts and lexicon of film with Shakespeare as our case study. Our methods vary: sometimes we study the play in detail and compare several film versions; or we see a film fresh--without having read the play--to approach it as a work of art on its own terms; or we hear individual reports from students about additional films to expand the repertoire of films we study and enjoy. The films we view range from multiple versions of Hamlet, Macbeth, and A Midsummer Night's Dream, to adaptations of As You Like It and Henry V, to original Shakespeare-inspired films such as Forbidden Planet, A Thousand Acres, and My Own Private Idaho. (HL) Dobin. Fall 2014

      ENGL 380-04: Thrilling Tales: New North American Fiction (3). A study of 21st-century novels and short stories by North American authors. We examine the recent movement of literary fiction into genres traditionally limited to pulp writing. Texts may include: McSweeney's Mammoth Treasury of Thrilling Tales edited by Michael Chabon; Margaret Atwood's Oryx and Crake; Isabel Allende's Zorro; Sherman Alexie's Flight; Octavia Butler's Fledgling; Cormac McCarthy's The Road; Junot Diaz's The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao; Colson Whitehead's Zone One, and Austin Grossman's Soon I Will Be Invincible. (HL) Gavaler. Fall 2014

    • ENGL 294 - Topics in Environmental Literature

      FDR: HL
      Credits: 4
      Planned Offering: Spring
      Credits: 4


      Prerequisite: Completion of the FW requirement.

      Studies in the literature of natural history, exploration, and science pertaining to the fundamental relationships between nature and human culture. Versions of this course focus on particular periods and national literatures, or they concentrate on a specific theme or problem. Students develop their analytical writing skills in a series of short papers. May be repeated for degree credit if the topics are different.

    • ENV 207 - Nature and Place

      FDR: HU
      Credits: 3
      Credits: 3


      This course explores a variety of ideas about and experiences of nature and place Through a consideration of work drawn from diverse disciplines including philosophy, religious studies, literature, art, and anthropology. Questions to be Considered may include: what is the nature of place in our societies, and is there a place for nature in our cultures? How have human beings made places for themselves to dwell in or out of nature? What might make a place a sacred place? Are there any sacred places? (

    • ENV 395 - Special Topics in Environmental Ethics

      Credits: 3
      Planned Offering: Winter, Spring
      Credits: 3


      This course explores areas of topical concern within the field of environmental ethics. The issues explored may vary from year to year. May be repeated for degree credit if the topics are different.

    • PHIL 150 - Ethics and the Environment

      FDR: HU
      Credits: 3
      Planned Offering: Yearly
      Credits: 3


      This course is a philosophical exploration of one's responsibilities to the natural world. It has three main objectives: first, to provide an understanding of different dominant ethical theories and their application to animals, plants, and ecosystems; second, to provide an understanding of major environmental issues in current political debates, such as climate change, species preservation, and sustainable development; and third, to facilitate the development of a student's own ethic towards the environment.

    • PHIL 280 - Philosophy of Nature

      FDR: HU
      Credits: 3
      Credits: 3


      An examination of various understandings of nature and the natural from the ancient Greeks to the present. The course includes exploration of basic philosophical issues regarding the concepts "nature," "wild," and "wilderness." The focus is on the relationship between landscapes and conceptualizations of time, self, and community.

    • REL 207 - Nature and Place

      FDR: HU
      Credits: 3
      Credits: 3


      Through a consideration of work drawn from diverse disciplines including philosophy, religious studies, literature, art, and anthropology, this course explores a variety of ideas about and experiences of nature and place.

    • REL 224 - American Indian Religions, Landscapes, and Identities (ANTH 224)

      FDR: HU
      Credits: 3
      Credits: 3


      Drawing on a combination of scholarly essays, native accounts, videos, guest lectures, and student presentations, this seminar examines the religious assumptions and practices that bind American Indian communities to their traditional homelands. The seminar elucidates and illustrates those principles concerning human environmental interactions common to most Indian tribes; focuses on the traditional beliefs and practices of a particular Indian community that reflected and reinforced the community understanding of the relationship to be maintained with the land and its creatures; and examines the moral and legal disputes that have arisen out of the very different presuppositions which Indians and non- Indians hold regarding the environment.