Environmental Sustainability Minor

Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences

Sustainability is usually defined as the ability to meet the resource needs of the current generation without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. At UMW, we consider four aspects of sustainability: environmental, social, economic, and cultural sustainability. The goal of the Environmental Sustainability minor is to encourage students to analyze our natural and social worlds and to examine approaches to resolving critical resource issues for the long-term. The core classes provide a common introduction to the scientific study of the environment and issues of sustainability. Students then add three additional elective classes that appeal to particular fields and their respective applications of sustainability concepts. Completing this  minor will better prepare students for the complex, interdisciplinary challenges our society faces.

Requirements for the Environmental Sustainability Minor

Eighteen to twenty-one (18 – 21) credits. Three required core courses: EESC 110, 230, and either 326 or 330. Three or more elective courses from the following list, totaling at least nine (9) credits: EESC 307, 313, 315, 323, 325, 326, 330, 355, 360, 421, 481, 499; BIOL 424, 428; COMM 354; ECON 324, 351; GEOG 245, 339; PHIL 330; SPAN 345

Environmental Science Courses for the Environmental Sustainability Minor

Environmental Science course offerings will be found under the 4 letter code of EESC in the course listings.

110 – Introduction to Environmental Science (3)

Humans and the environment as viewed from the social and natural sciences.

230 – Global Environmental Problems (3)

Prerequisites: EESC 110 or BIOL 121. An in-depth analysis of specific global environmental problems facing society today. The course connects economic development, population growth, resource consumption and environmental degradation with detailed case studies. The challenges of achieving a sustainable society today will be investigated through the lessons learned from these environmental crises across the world.

307 – Environmental Soil Science (3)

Prerequisites: GEOL 112 or EESC 110 or GEOG 111. An introduction to soil formation processes; soil classification (both basic classification and soil taxonomy); physical properties of soil; soil chemistry; and discussion of soil as an environmental interface.

313- Fluvial Geomorphology (4)

Prerequisites: GEOL 112 or GEOG 111. Use of both classical (qualitative) and modern (quantitative) geomorphological methods to study and understand fluvial processes acting on the surface of the earth, and how landforms and landscapes created by these processes control the global environment. The class will combine field-based observations with in-class instruction. Cross-listed as GEOL 313. Laboratory.

315 – Hydrogeology (4)

Prerequisite: GEOL 112. An introduction to surface water and groundwater flow; the hydrologic cycle; aquifer testing; flow to wells; contaminant transport; and field and laboratory instruments. Cross-listed as GEOL 315. Laboratory.

323 – Aquatic Ecology (4)

Prerequisites: EESC 110 and BIOL 210. A study of the structure and function of inland water ecosystems which includes the physical, chemical, geological and biological interactions that determine the composition, spatial and temporal distribution and population dynamics of aquatic organisms in various aquatic habitats. Laboratory.

325 – Environmental Geochemistry (4)

Prerequisites: GEOL 112 and CHEM 112. Study of chemical processes operating at or near the surface of the Earth, in bedrock, soils, streams, the oceans and the atmosphere. Particular attention is given to environmental applications. Cross-listed as GEOL 325. Laboratory.

326 – Pollution Prevention Planning (3)

Prerequisite: EESC 110. This course provides an examination of the legislative and scientific approaches to reduce pollution. Examples include an evaluation of industry processes, recycling, wastewater, air and solid waste treatment.

330 – Environmental Regulations Compliance (3)

Prerequisite: EESC 110. This course provides an introduction to environmental laws and regulations and the techniques that are applied by environmental professionals to maintain compliance.

355 – Icehouse – Greenhouse Earth (3)

Prerequisites: GEOL 111 or EESC 110. This course examines the history of the Earth’s climate system in the context of the two primary modes: Icehouse and Greenhouse. Through critical evaluation of primary literature, written assignments and oral presentations, students will gain an appreciation of the magnitude of temporal and spatial climate reorganizations through time and develop an in-depth understanding of both long and short term cyclic changes that have contributed to the development of our modern climate system. Cross-listed as GEOL 355.

360 – Environmental Exploration (2-4)

Specialized courses with a significant field component not offered on a regular basis. Study of selected environments along with relevant geological issues with a focus on active exploration and research. Overnight trips and extra fees required. Permission of instructor required to register. Cross listed as GEOL 360.

421 – Topics in Environmental Science (2–4)

This course will address a special topic in the environmental sciences, such as environmental audits or environmental toxicology. Open to junior and senior Environmental Science majors; others by permission of instructor.

481 – Readings in Environmental Science (1–2)

Readings in Environmental Science literature selected by the student, who is guided by a faculty member. Open to junior and senior Environmental Science majors by permission of the department.

499 – Internship (Credits variable)

Prerequisite: Junior or senior Environmental Science major in good academic standing with appropriate background. Supervised off-campus experience, developed in consultation with the department.

Additional Courses for the Environmental Sustainability Minor

Biology 424 – Tropical Ecology (4)

Prerequisite: BIOL 210. Study of selected tropical ecosystems; exploration of these in a tropical setting; consideration of some problems, uses, and interesting facets of these ecosystems. Field Trip to Puerto Rico or other tropical locality.

Biology 428 – Conservation Biology (4)

Prerequisite: BIOL 210. Study of social science and natural science approaches to the conservation of biological diversity. Course topics include conservation law, conservation values, population genetics, and population dynamics. Laboratory.

Communication 354 – Environmental Rhetoric (3)

Study of persuasive strategies used to discuss environmental issues with an emphasis on the interface between the scientific community, policymakers, and the public.

Economics 324 – Economics of Philanthropy and the Non-Profit Sector (3)

Prerequisites: ECON 201 and 202. Exploration of economic issues associated with philanthropy and the non-profit sector.

Economics 351 – Poverty, Affluence, and Equality (3)

Prerequisites: ECON 201 and 202. Economic analysis of the distributions of income and wealth, poverty, and discrimination.

Geography 245 – Environment and Society (3)

A geographic survey of environmental changes caused by human activities, with emphasis given to resource exploitation, conservation, pollution, and interactions of humans with plant and animal communities.

Geography 339 – Geography and Development (3)

An examination of local and global geographies of uneven development, including a review of major theories and introducing a spatial approach to cultural, economic, political, and environmental problems of uneven development.

Philosophy 330 –Environmental Ethics (3)

Prerequisite: Junior or Senior standing or permission of instructor. A philosophical investigation of topics such as individualistic and holistic ethics, anthropocentrism and ecocentrism, wilderness and sustainability, ecofeminism, and environmental justice.

Spanish 345 – Ideas on Nature in Latin American Literature (3)

Prerequisite: SPAN 312 or permission of the instructor. A study of ideas about nature and environment in Latin American narrative and poetry.