Course Descriptions

ENVS 120 (US) Social Systems and the Environment (1)

This course is a multidisciplinary introduction to understanding the effects of human actions and social systems on the natural world. We will emphasize science and social-science based approaches to understanding environmental problems and evaluating possible solutions to them. We will begin by examining basic concepts regarding social and natural systems. These concepts will then be applied as we evaluate and understand issues of environmental quality and stresses on natural resources. Throughout the course we will pay close attention to how human social, political, economic, and ethical institutions influence our interactions with natural systems. This course is intended to introduce Environmental Science majors and prospective majors to the social science aspects of environmental science as well as educate students from other disciplines.

  • General Education Requirement Fulfillment: Understanding Society
  • Offering: Every Semester
  • Instructor: Bowersox, Butterworth

ENVS 121 (NW; QA) Earth System Science and the Environment (1)

This course provides an overview of the Earth and its history from a systems perspective, exploring the connections among and co-evolution of patterns and processes among the solid earth, atmosphere, oceans, and life. Students will practice observing and thinking like an Earth scientist in an integrated and immersive lecture/discussion/laboratory/field experience. Topics vary by instructor and may include: earth system history and geological time, ocean processes, geomorphology and earth surface processes, surface and groundwater hydrology, earth's climate, biodiversity through space and time, tectonics, and earth materials. Required field trips outside of class may be scheduled.

  • General Education Requirement Fulfillment: Understanding the Natural World; Quantitative and Analytical Reasoning (no star)
  • Prerequisite: First and second year students only
  • Offering: Every Semester
  • Instructor: Staff

ENVS 250 (QA) Geographic Information Systems (1)

A comprehensive approach to cartography and spatial analysis, including the use of the global positioning system, computer-aided mapping and geographic information systems. Lecture, field and laboratory experience with an emphasis on class and individual projects.

  • General Education Requirement Fulfillment: Quantitative and Analytical Reasoning
  • Offering: Annually
  • Instructor: Halama

ENVS 298 Sophomore Seminar in Environmental Science (1)

This course is designed for sophomores majoring in Environmental Science and provides a common experience for building habits of mind and community through an in-depth exposure to the discipline prior to the junior year. Emphasis is on learning to think like an environmental scientist through exploring the analytical research methods used in environmental problem solving through individual or group projects. Students will also carefully consider their path through the ENVS major and explore career options beyond college by interacting with faculty, guest speakers, and alums.

  • Prerequisite: Sophomore ENVS major and ENVS 120 or ENVS 121
  • Offering: Annually
  • Instructor: Arabas, Bowersox, Butterworth, Meyer, Pike

ENVS 304W (EV) Politics of Environmental Ethics (1)

Critical and in-depth analysis of the human/nature relationship, its impact upon political theory and ethics, as well as its larger ramifications for social and moral life generally.

  • General Education Requirement Fulfillment: Writing-centered; Examining Values
  • Offering: Fall
  • Instructor: Bowersox

ENVS 321 Environmental Policymaking: Politics and Process (1)

A comprehensive analysis of the internal and external influences of the environmental policy process, locally, nationally and globally. Students will explore issue formation, models of policy decision-making, risk perception and assessment, and the motivations and powers of various actors in the policy process.

  • Prerequisite: ENVS 120
  • Offering: Annually
  • Instructor: Bowersox

ENVR 326 (TH) Environmental History (1)

This course will give students a general introduction to environmental history, using a wide range of sources including history textbooks, popular writing about nature and the environment, nature documentaries, and the landscape. The course will challenge students to think critically about the study of history, how history articulates ongoing human efforts to understand and control nature, and how history investigates current debates about the environment. Topics include: deforestation and the development of the agrarian landscape in Western Europe; European colonization and the effect of European contact on native populations in North America; industrialization and the use and development of natural resources; the definitions, planning, and management of public spaces such as national parks, game lands and zoos; establishment of environmental standards; the emergence of conservation ecology; "green" politics and ecofeminism.

  • General Education Requirement Fulfillment: Thinking Historically; Environmental Cluster
  • Prerequisite: Closed to freshmen
  • Offering: Spring
  • Instructor: Bourque

ENVS 327W Water Resources of the Western US (1)

This course takes a systems approach to examining the water resources of the US West. Emphasis is placed on evaluating water resources from a variety of scales and perspectives, using the Colorado, Klamath, and Columbia River basins as case studies. Through intensive reading and discussion students will explore how earth systems (water cycle, climate, etc.) and social systems (economics, law, policy, culture, etc.) interact and influence water resources issues in the Western US. Students will expand on these case studies by preparing a literature review or research paper on a topic of interest.

  • General Education Requirement Fulfillment: Writing-centered
  • Prerequisite: ENVS 120 and ENVS 121
  • Offering: Spring
  • Instructor: Arabas

ENVS 328 Health and the Global Environment (1)

This course explores the interconnectedness of the environment, society, and health through a geographic lens. We will examine how geography has been used to understand disease patterns and outbreaks, access to health care, health inequality, and the impact of the environment on health. We will uncover how environmentally-mediated disease and health are represented and understood at multiple scales, the structural conditions leading to the varying levels of health we find in our communities and in our world, and how power relations impact and shape health possibilities in communities.

  • Prerequisite: ENVS 120
  • Offering: Annually
  • Instructor: Butterworth

ENVS 334 Political Ecology (1)

Political ecology explores the interrelationships between political, social, economic factors and the environment. This class draws on critical scholarship to examine key themes of political ecology such as environmental degradation, conservation, and conflict, along with more recent engagements in the field with concerns of climate change, and the political ecology of health. The course will challenge students to think critically about the connections between humans and the environment, learn about social science methods, and to envision more socially and environmentally just futures.

  • Prerequisite: ENVS 120
  • Offering: Annually
  • Instructor: Butterworth

ENVS 340 Biogeochemistry (1)

Biogeochemistry is the exploration of the physical, chemical, and biological processes that govern the exchange of energy and elements between life and the environment. In this course, we will examine the global biogeochemical cycling of carbon, sulfur, phosphorus, and nitrogen. Drawing from the primary literature, we will investigate how biogeochemical cycling has changed over Earth's history and as a result of human activities.


ENVS 343 Biogeography (1)

This course investigates plant and animal distributions, past, present and future. The study of plant distributions will be emphasized and approached from historical, cultural and ecological perspectives. The goal is to foster student understanding of local, regional, and global biogeographic patterns and their underlying processes. Human impacts on biotic distributions and applications of biogeographic knowledge and theory to conservation problems will also be discussed.

  • Prerequisite: ENVS 121
  • Offering: Fall
  • Instructor: Arabas

ENVS 347 (QA) Earth's Climate: Past, Present, and Future (1)

This course focuses on the fundamentals of Earth's climate system and how it has varied through time. Students will learn how Earth historians use the rock record to determine past climate states as well as explore modern anthropogenic climate change. Topics will include: geologic time, carbon cycle, Milankovitch cycles, climate models and proxies, climate history.

  • General Education Requirement Fulfillment: Quantitative Reasoning (no star)
  • Prerequisite: ENVS 121
  • Offering: Alternate years
  • Instructor: Meyer

ENVS 358 Principles of Hydrology (1)

Hydrology is the science that studies the occurrence, distribution, movement and properties of the Earth's waters and their relationship with the environment. This course will focus on learning the concepts, physical principles and methods to describe and measure water flow above and beneath the Earth's surface. You will not only learn the conceptual aspects of water flow, but also techniques to model water dynamics quantitatively. The aim of the course is to provide a balanced perspective of the water cycle that will give you skills and insight into how to manage this fundamental resource.

  • Prerequisite: ENVS 121
  • Offering: Alternate years
  • Instructor: Pike

ENVS 360 Research in Environmental Health Geography (1)

Environmental health geography examines the connections between disease and the environment across multiple scales. Students will learn quantitative and qualitative research methodologies used to conduct research in the field. The class will be taught in a workshop model that will encompass lecture, discussion, and hands on inquiry. The main focus of the semester will be on research designed, conducted, and analyzed by the students.

  • Prerequisite: ENVS 120
  • Offering: Annually
  • Instructor: Butterworth

ENVS 365 Research in Climate Change Impacts on Society (1)

This course examines the impacts of climate change on society, including health, natural disasters, agriculture, vulnerability, and adaptation. Students will learn quantitative and qualitative research methodologies used to conduct research in the field. The class will be taught in a workshop mode that will encompass lecture, discussion, and hands on inquiry. The main focus of the semester will be on research designed, conducted, and analyzed by the students.

  • Prerequisite: ENVS 120
  • Offering: Alternate Years
  • Instructor: Butterworth

ENVS 374 Special Topics in Environmental Science (.5-1)

This course enables faculty and students to focus on a specific topic in environmental science. The flexibility of the seminar/field experience format permits a timely focus on newly emerging fields, topical issues, and techniques. Specific topic designation is made at time of course offering.

  • Prerequisite: Permission of instructor
  • Offering: On demand
  • Instructor: Staff

ENVS 380W Research in Forest Management and Policy (1)

Forest Management and Policy is a research intensive course examining contemporary issues in forest management and forest conservation, from inventorying for traditional silvicultural practices to variable retention techniques informed by contemporary forest ecology. Adaptation to climate change, wildfire, pathogens, and other disturbances, as well as the economic and politics of third party certification are other topics rich for exploration. Taking advantage of the diversity of Oregon's forested landscapes and ownerships and close proximity to state government, the course incorporates field trips, data collection and data analysis to understand the challenges facing public and private foresters, citizens, and forest lands for which they care. Data will be derived from existing data sets, collected field data, surveys, interviews, transcripts, and documents. Students will be expected to write and present reports to disseminate their findings.

  • General Education Requirement Fulfillment: Writing-centered
  • Prerequisite: ENVS 120 and ENVS 121
  • Offering: Alternate Years
  • Instructor: Bowersox

ENVS 381 Research in Spatial Science (1)

Research in Spatial Science will enable students to expand their spatial science skills by applying them to real world problem solving in Environmental Science. It will focus on quantitative assessment, spatial data interpolation, uncertainty tracking and analysis, spatial modeling, and ArcMap competency by building upon skills learned through the ENVS 250 course. Students will also gain competency in GIS programming, ArcModel Builder, advanced spatial data manipulation, and project management.

  • Prerequisite: ENVS 250
  • Offering: Annually
  • Instructor: Halama

ENVS 382 Research in Dendrochronology (1)

Dendrochronology, or the science of tree rings, is a fascinating and easily accessible form of proxy data used to interpret physical, biological and cultural events in the past. By dating tree rings to their exact year of formation you can discern temporal and spatial patterns of a variety of processes impacting trees including, vegetation dynamics, climate, air pollution, landslides, glacial advance, lake level change, fire, and insect outbreaks. In this course you will get an introduction to dendrochronology, including the breadth of the field and the mechanics of the data collection and analysis of tree rings. Through lecture, discussion, lab and field exercises, and collaborative research students will learn the principles of dendrochronology and how they can be applied to understand the environmental information a tree records in its annual growth rings. Students will employ their dendrochronological knowledge and skills to complete a research project.

  • Prerequisite: ENVS 121
  • Offering: Annually
  • Instructor: Arabas

ENVS 383W Geomicrobiology (1)

This course focuses on the relationships and interactions between microbes and the environment. Students will practice geochemical and microbiological techniques in the field and laboratory. Topics will include: microbe-mineral interactions, microbial influence in global biogeochemical processes, extremophiles, microbial biogeography, and microbial imprints in the geologic record.

  • General Education Requirement Fulfillment: Writing-centered
  • Prerequisite: BIOL 125 or BIOL 130 or ENVS 121
  • Offering: Alternate Springs
  • Instructor: Meyer

ENVS 384W Research in the Anthropocene (1)

The Anthropocene is defined as the latest geologic age where human activity has been a dominant driver on the climate and environment. This research intensive course focuses on methods to observe and learn from the physical evidence of human influence on the environment that is preserved and recorded within the geologic record. Taking advantage of the diverse and dynamic geology of Oregon, the course incorporates field trips, data collection and data analysis to interpret how people have influenced weathering, hillslope, alluvial, fluvial, and coastal processes for the past 10,000 years. We will examine the consequences of both intentional and unintentional manipulation of surface processes. Data will be derived from sediment analysis, geomorphic modeling, and 3D photogrammetry. Students will be expected to write and present reports to disseminate their findings.

  • General Education Requirement Fulfillment: Writing-centered
  • Prerequisite: ENVS 121
  • Offering: Alternate Years
  • Instructor: Pike

ENVS 385 Research in Urban Geochemistry (1)

This research intensive course focuses on the geochemical and field approaches that Earth scientists use to quantify human impact on the urban environment. Students will examine key questions in urban geochemical research, including: How have humans altered global and local biogeochemical cycles? How does urban infrastructure influence geochemistry of soils and natural waters? How are urban areas monitored? Student projects will focus on urban geochemical perturbations in the Salem area and may include collection and analysis of water, soil, and dust samples.

  • Prerequisite: ENVS 121
  • Offering: Alternate Years
  • Instructor: Meyer

ENVS 391W Research in Geoarchaeology (1)

Archaeological geology applies methods and theories from the geologic sciences to archaeological problems. This course will cover the processes associated with sedimentation and stratigraphy at archaeological sites and the geological approaches used to uncover cultural traits associated with the deposits. Geomorphic processes that impact site selection, formation, preservation, and identification will be addressed, as will macroscopic, petrographic, geochemical and isotopic techniques for characterizing and provenancing archaeological material. Geophysical survey methods and theories will also be reviewed. Throughout the course, the theoretical foundation that underlies the union between geology and archaeology will be stressed.

  • General Education Requirement Fulfillment: Writing-centered
  • Prerequisite: ENVS 121
  • Co-Requisite: Simultaneous enrollment in a lab section of ENVS 391W
  • Offering: Alternate Years
  • Instructor: Pike

ENVS 490 Independent Study in Environmental Science (1)

A chance for detailed exploration of a topic related to environmental science by a student under the supervision of an ENVS faculty member. Students will work closely with their faculty mentor to design a set of readings, project to be conducted, and outcomes.

  • Prerequisite: Consent of instructor
  • Offering: Every Semester
  • Instructor: Staff

ENVS 494 Internship in Environmental Science (0.5-1)

Supervised internships in agencies, NGOs, research labs, and other relevant sites. Interns are placed only in positions which provide academic learning opportunities and the availability of such positions may be limited. A student is accepted for internship at the discretion of the supervisor and instructor on the basis of demonstrated capabilities, including research and writing skills. Interns are expected to work between 6 and 12 hours a week, meet regularly with the supervisor and instructor, and write a final reflective paper.

  • Prerequisite: ENVS 120 and ENVS 121
  • Offering: Every semester
  • Instructor: Staff

ENVS 495W Senior Capstone Course in Environmental Science (1)

The capstone course provides Environmental Science majors with the opportunity to cultivate professional work habits necessary for success by applying and integrating skills and knowledge developed in the Environmental Science curriculum via a semester-long investigation of a major topic in the discipline. Students will focus on writing a literature review on the capstone topic, and then conceptualize, research, and present an independent focus paper based on the literature review.

  • Mode of Inquiry: Writing-centered
  • Prerequisite: ENVS 298 and Senior Standing
  • Offering: Annually
  • Instructor: Staff

ENVS 499W Senior Honors Thesis in Environmental Science (1)

Students will design and conduct senior honors thesis work on an original piece of research under the supervision of an Environmental Science faculty member. Final products include a written thesis and public presentation.

  • General Education Requirement Fulfillment: Writing-centered
  • Prerequisite: Permission of a supervising ENVS faculty member
  • Offering: Annually
  • Instructor: Staff