Environmental Studies Program


Key to the Courses of Study >

Courses of Study

ES118s    Environment and Society An interdisciplinary study of human relationships with and impacts on the environment. Examination of important local, national, and global environmental issues by exploring causes and methods for investigating these pressing problems, as well as possible solutions, from scientific and public-policy perspectives. Students explore important literature and ideas in the field to complement the lectures; conduct an original, semester-long, group research project; and complete several writing assignments. Four credit hours. Bruesewitz, McDowell, Nyhus
[ES120B]    From Darwin to Dillard: Nature Writing through Time Focusing on broad themes such as observing and exploring, encountering animals, working the land, and dwelling in place, we thoughtfully and critically engage a century of excellent nature writing by authors worldwide. Students learn about and practice nature writing using the personal journal, the essay, word pictures and figurative language, story telling, poetry, and activism. Through reading, writing, art, music, video, and time outdoors, students encounter nature using all their senses, and gain an appreciation of the content and process of nature writing. Four credit hours. W1.
ES120Jj    Community Responses to Environmental Hazards An introduction to community-level environmental problems related to hazardous waste and the impacts on and responses of affected communities. Explores the concept of environmental justice and how the risk of hazardous exposures is related to race, ethnicity, class, and gender. We discuss U.S. policy debates on hazardous waste regulation and environmental injustice claims, and we consider the evidence for the inequitable distribution of environmental quality and adverse health impacts, the mechanisms for environmental and public health decision making, and community access to informational resources and empowerment. Three credit hours. W1. Carlson
ES126f    Environmental Activism An introduction to the history, theory, and practice of environmental activism, incorporating both global and local perspectives. Students explore the social phenomena that underlay human action in the environmental arena, taking an interdisciplinary approach that encompasses history, social movement and political theory, media studies, gender studies, psychology, and first-person narratives. Goals include 1) developing effective skills in critical reading, analysis, and communication; 2) developing an appreciation for the vastness and diversity of human responses to environmental challenges; and 3) providing the opportunity to apply emerging leadership and organizing skills to the design of a student environmental group. Part of the two-course Integrated Studies 126, "The Green Cluster." Prerequisite: Concurrent enrollment in Philosophy 126. (Elect IS126.) Four credit hours. S. Carlson
[ES131]    Biodiversity Listed as Biology 131. Four credit hours. N, Lb.
ES141j    Green Building Design: Making the Case for Change Presents the theory and practice of green building design through lectures, discussions, presentations, guest speakers, and field trips. Studies the processes used to quantify the environmental impacts of building construction and introduces effective mitigation strategies. Concepts include integrated design techniques, site and landscape considerations, passive design techniques, water efficiency, materials and resource mitigation, occupant health and engagement programs, energy efficiency and reduction, construction best practices, commissioning, and knowledge management. Students will also undertake group projects using Colby as a case study. Three credit hours. Bright
ES143j    Sustainable and Socially Responsible Business Provides a broad overview of sustainable and socially responsible business principles and the ways in which companies incorporate them. Also introduces sustainable and socially responsible investment strategies and reviews their potential impact and effectiveness. Through a series of readings, lectures, guest speakers, and real-world case studies, students are exposed to the issues and opportunities facing green businesses. Includes small-group and individual presentations. Previously offered as Environmental Studies 197A (2013). Three credit hours. Penney
ES151j    Landscapes and Meaning: An Exploration of Environmental Writing An exploration of the works of selected 20th-century environmental writers and how their life experiences contribute to a sense of connection with and action on behalf of the Earth. Through readings, film, writing assignments, group discussion, and journaling, students will develop critical thinking and communication skills while reflecting on their own personal relationship with nature. Previously offered as Environmental Studies 197C (2010, 2013). Three credit hours. L. MacKenzie
ES212s    Introduction to GIS and Remote Sensing A comprehensive theoretical and practical introduction to the fundamental principles of geographic information systems and remote sensing digital image processing. Topics include data sources and models, map scales and projections, spatial analysis, elementary satellite image interpretation and manipulation, and global positioning systems. Current issues and applications of GIS, with emphasis on environmental topics. Students develop and carry out independent projects using GIS. Prerequisite: Sophomore or higher standing. Not open to students who have completed Environmental Studies 214 or 214J. Four credit hours. Nyhus
ES214f    Introduction to GIS and Spatial Analysis An introduction to geographic information systems' (GIS) data management and visualization capabilities as well as the theory and application of spatial analysis techniques. Topics covered include spatial data representation in a GIS, effective map making, coordinate systems and projections, exploratory spatial data analysis (ESDA), and spatial statistical analysis. Prerequisite: Sophomore or higher standing. Not open to students who have completed Environmental Studies 212 or 214J. Four credit hours. Gimond
ES214Jj    Introduction to GIS and Spatial Analysis An introduction to geographic information systems' (GIS) data management and visualization capabilities as well as the theory and application of spatial analysis techniques. Topics covered include spatial data representation in a GIS, effective map making, coordinate systems and projections, exploratory spatial data analysis (ESDA), and spatial statistical analysis. Prerequisite: Sophomore or higher standing. Not open to students who have completed Environmental Studies 212 or 214. Three credit hours. Gimond
ES215f    Weather, Climate, and Society Listed as Science, Technology, and Society 215. Four credit hours. N. Fleming
[ES216]    Philosophy of Nature Listed as Philosophy 216. Four credit hours.
[ES217]    Environmental Chemistry Listed as Chemistry 217. Three credit hours.
ES218s    Exploratory Data Analysis in R Exploratory data analysis employs methods such as robust data summaries and data visualization to isolate important patterns and features in the data to shed light on the phenomena being investigated. Students will learn the building blocks of effective graphic design for data exploration and for publication using the R programming environment. They will also learn how to manipulate and restructure complex data sets (including spatial data) for data analysis. Students will use R and RStudio to generate dynamic reports that will integrate both analysis and presentation with a strong emphasis on reproducible research. Prerequisite: Sophomore standing. Four credit hours. Gimond
[ES228]    Nature and the Built Environment Listed as American Studies 228. Four credit hours. H.
ES231fs    Environmental and Natural Resource Economics Listed as Economics 231. Four credit hours. Chan, Dissanayake
ES233f    Environmental Policy A comprehensive and interdisciplinary introduction to the process and challenges of developing, implementing, and evaluating environmental policy. The roles of costs and benefits, uncertainty and risks, science and technology, and attitudes and ethics are explored. Historic and contemporary case studies are used to examine major institutions and actors, laws and regulations, incentives and enforcement approaches, and their role in addressing our nation's most pressing environmental problems. Students complete a semester-long research assignment. Prerequisite: Environmental Studies 118. Four credit hours. Nyhus
ES234s    International Environmental Policy Examines how communities, nations, and international organizations govern the use of natural resources including water, land, forests, fisheries, and the global climate. Through case studies and international environmental treaty analyses we will develop an understanding of global environmental issues; explore complementarities and tradeoffs among local, national, and global approaches to environmental governance; highlight the environmental justice implications of various resource management regimes; and assess the effectiveness of policies to address major environmental problems. Prerequisite: Environmental Studies 118. Four credit hours. I. Reynolds
[ES240]    Microbes in the Environment Listed as Biology 240. Three credit hours. N.
ES242s    Marine Conservation and Policy Human activities and effects—including overfishing, water pollution, climate change, and benthic habitat destruction—have all had major impacts on ocean ecosystems. Through lectures and discussions we will investigate global, regional, and local threats to marine biodiversity and ecosystem function. Potential conservation solutions will be considered. Independent and group research projects will investigate the science and policy of marine conservation issues and will evaluate and synthesize information from scientific literature, popular media, and online discussions. Previously listed as Environmental Studies 342. Prerequisite: Environmental Studies 118. Four credit hours. McClenachan
ES243s    Environmental Ethics Listed as Philosophy 243. Four credit hours. Peterson
ES244s    Marine Communities Introduces students to a diversity of marine community types around the world, including kelp forests, coral reefs, salt marshes, and pelagic communities. Through lectures, readings, and class activities, students will learn about the physical, biological, and chemical structuring forces in the ocean, key ecological interactions, and human impacts across ecosystems. Key learning goals include improved scientific literacy in marine science, as well as enhanced public speaking and writing skills. Prerequisite: Environmental Studies 118. Four credit hours. N. McClenachan
[ES259]    Plants of the Tropics Listed as Biology 259. Three credit hours.
ES265f    Global Public Health An introduction to the principles and measures of global health, disease burdens, and environmental determinants of health, including poverty, climate change, pollution, population, violence, and lack of safe food, clean water, and fuels. We will also study international health institutions, key actors, and environmental regimes for the regulation of environmental health hazards. Through small-group presentations and discussion we will explore global case studies that highlight the complex relationship between human health and the environment. Prerequisite: Environmental Studies 118 or a course in the natural sciences. Four credit hours. Carlson
ES271f    Introduction to Ecology An examination of ecological concepts applied to individuals, populations, and communities of plants and animals in terrestrial, freshwater, and marine environments. Concepts and theories related to adaptations of organisms to their physical environment, patterns of plant and animal diversity, population dynamics and interactions, and the structure and diversity of ecological communities are explored and applied to current environmental problems. Ecological sampling techniques are practiced during field trips taken to local terrestrial, freshwater, and marine ecosystems. Identification of common plant and animal species, and investigation of ecological relationships are emphasized. A research assignment helps enhance writing skills. Prerequisite: Environmental Studies 118 or Biology 131 or 164. Not open to students who have completed Biology 263. Four credit hours. N, Lb. McDowell
[ES276]    Exploring the Anthropocene: Human Impacts on Global Ecosystems Human activities are changing the environment in ways so numerous and extensive that some scientists have proposed we are in a new geological epoch, the "Anthropocene," defined by human impacts on the landscape and ecosystem function. Through lectures, discussions, group projects, and laboratory exercises students will examine key elements of global ecosystem function, investigate how human activities have altered global ecosystems since the Industrial Revolution, and critically assess scientific evidence for anthropogenic changes. Global climate change will be investigated and placed in a broader context of anthropogenic change. We will also examine the concepts of tipping points to navigate future life in the Anthropocene. Prerequisite: Environmental Studies 118 and one college-level science course. Four credit hours. N, Lb.
[ES277]    Vertebrate Natural History Listed as Biology 277. Four credit hours.
[ES279]    Geology of Bermuda Listed as Geology 279. Three credit hours.
[ES287]    Impact of Climate Change on Ocean Life The concentration of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere recently passed 400 parts per million, the highest level seen in three million years. Increased CO2 is causing the oceans to warm and become more acidic. We will explore the connections, past and present, between the oceans and climate and will examine how current changes impact marine life. Emphasis is on microbial ecosystems that form the base of marine food webs and have a major impact on ocean health. Students will explore the primary scientific literature and work on written and oral presentation skills. Can be repeated once for additional credit. Prerequisite: One semester of mathematics or science; a biology course is highly recommended. Three credit hours. N.
[ES297A]    Biological Oceanography: Microbial Denizens of the Living Ocean Listed as Biology 297A. Three credit hours. N.
[ES297B]    Extreme Climate Change in the Gulf of Maine Listed as Biology 297B. Three credit hours.
ES297Cj    Disease Ecology An introduction to disease ecology and how connections among wildlife, livestock, and humans create opportunities for disease transmission. Explores zoonotic diseases (diseases that can be passed from animals to humans) and how the changes humans make to the environment affect disease. Involves lectures, discussion of case studies from Spillover, and evaluation and manipulation of simple disease models. Students will also develop communication and research skills through group discussions of primary literature, independent research, and presentation of a wildlife disease of interest. Prerequisite: Biology 263 or Environmental Studies 271. Three credit hours. N. McDowell
ES297Dj    Global Change Impacts on Marginal Marine Ecosystems Investigates impacts of global change on "marginal" marine ecosystems, using the subtropical reefs of Bermuda as a case study. The month will combine experiential learning at the Bermuda Institute for Ocean Sciences with subsequent lab analyses at the Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences. Hands-on field work, including snorkeling and underwater photography, use of contemporary water quality sensors, readings in primary scientific literature, and use of biological and chemical analytical capabilities, will teach students technical skills and develop their capacity to think critically about environmental science. Nongraded. Prerequisite: Biology 164, Chemistry 142, Environmental Studies 118, or Geology 142. Three credit hours. N, Lb. Price
ES319f    Conservation Biology Concepts of conservation biology are examined in detail. Topics include patterns of diversity and rarity, sensitive habitats, extinction, captive propagation, preserve design, and reclamation of degraded or destroyed ecosystems. Interdisciplinary solutions to the challenges of protecting, maintaining, and restoring biological diversity are discussed. Offered in alternate years. Prerequisite: Environmental Studies 118 or 271 or Biology 263, and sophomore or higher standing. Four credit hours. Nyhus
[ES328]    Radical Ecologies Listed as Philosophy 328. Four credit hours.
ES331f    Natural Resource Economics Listed as Economics 341. Prerequisite: Economics 223. Four credit hours. Dissanayake
[ES343]    Environmental Change Investigation of the relationship between past environmental history and current ecosystem condition. Landscape change and ecological restoration across a range of Maine ecosystems including forests, wetlands, rivers, and marine environments, with an emphasis on ecological theory. The impacts of past and present human activities including forestry, fishing, and industrial and residential development. Students will read scientific literature, practice ecological field and laboratory methods, enhance data analysis and writing skills, and complete a research project designed to evaluate environmental change and recovery potential in a local landscape, riverscape, or seascape. Lecture and laboratory. Prerequisite: Environmental Studies 271 and sophomore or higher standing. Four credit hours. W2.
ES344f    Marine Fisheries Management Managing marine fisheries represents one of the most significant challenges in the conservation of global resources. We explore political, cultural, and ecological factors essential for successful management. Through lectures, discussions, and readings, students become familiar with global fisheries issues, including high seas management, initiatives to protect the food security and biodiversity of tropical island nations, and management of marine and anadromous fish in the United States. Through a field-based, group research project, students will investigate challenges involved with managing marine fish populations in Maine. Prerequisite: Biology 263, Environmental Studies 118 or 271, and sophomore or higher standing. Four credit hours. McClenachan
ES346s    Global Food Policy Examines the emergence and development of global food systems and food policies starting with the earliest agricultural societies and continuing to the present day. We explore the economic, nutritional, and environmental justice implications of agricultural systems and critically analyze the intended and actual outcomes of food policies for nations and agricultural communities. Case studies, films, and independent research further highlight the role of food and food policy in degrading the environment, exacerbating ethnic tensions and social inequities, and even spurring conflict. Prerequisite: Environmental Studies 118 and sophomore or higher standing. Four credit hours. I. Reynolds
ES352s    Advanced and Applied Ecology An examination of theoretical and applied aspects of ecology at the organism, population, and community levels. Through lectures, discussions, and reading of primary literature, students will acquire a conceptual and theoretical understanding of environmental tolerance and adaptation of plant and animal species; population dynamics; competition, trophic relationships, and coevolutionary interactions; community structure and organization; succession; and biogeography. The relevance of theory and concepts to solving environmental problems will be explored. Laboratory exercises explore principles of experimental design and ecological sampling techniques. A research assignment helps to enhance writing and presentation skills. Lecture and laboratory. Prerequisite: Environmental Studies 271 and sophomore or higher standing. Four credit hours. McDowell
[ES354]    Marine Ecology Listed as Biology 354. Three or four credit hours.
ES356s    Aquatic Ecology Concern over the impact of human activities on aquatic communities and ecosystems has brought aquatic ecology to the forefront of public attention. Through lecture, discussion, writing assignments, and laboratory work, students will explore the major ecological principles that influence the physical, chemical, and biological organization of aquatic ecosystems. Experimental approaches and sampling techniques used by limnologists will be employed in local lakes, streams, and rivers, as well as in the laboratory to investigate topics of concern in freshwater ecosystems, including eutrophication, pollution, land use change, invasive species, and the impact of climate change. Prerequisite: Environmental Studies 271, a W1 course, and sophomore or higher standing. Four credit hours. W2. Bruesewitz
[ES358]    Ecological Field Study in Moorea Biological diversity, ecology, and conservation of marine ecosystems in Moorea, French Polynesia. Involves qualitative and quantitative field studies of the biological diversity and ecology of coral reef ecosystems; field-based investigation of the environmental challenges facing these ecosystems; discussions with conservation practitioners about innovative conservation solutions and the efficacy of local marine protected areas; exposure to the culture and history of Polynesian Islanders, including pre-European ecosystem management practices and traditional ecological knowledge of marine biodiversity and ecosystem function. Lectures, films, and discussions of assigned readings during the first week followed by a 20-day field trip. Cost: TBD. Financial aid available for qualified students. Prerequisite: Biology 131 or 164 or Environmental Studies 118, and permission of the instructor. Three credit hours.
ES366s    The Environment and Human Health How human health is affected by physical, chemical, biological, and social environments; how we use science to measure effects of these determinants at the level of cell, tissue, individual, and population; how we assess these determinants to make regulatory decisions. Topics include introductions to toxicology, epidemiology, and risk assessment; health effects of pollution, synthetic chemicals, consumer products, climate change, and the built environment; the etiology of health outcomes including cancer, obesity, endocrine disruption, and respiratory diseases. Students use primary scientific literature for independent research and, when appropriate, engage in environmental health policy debates in Congress and/or the Maine legislature. Prerequisite: Environmental Studies 118 or 126, and sophomore or higher standing. Four credit hours. N. Carlson
[ES378]    Geologic Environments in the Marine Realm Listed as Geology 378. Three credit hours. N.
ES397f    Current Topics in Environmental Science Explores emerging and cutting-edge topics in the field of environmental science. Lectures will be supported by in-class activities including regular, student-led discussions. Students will read recent literature reviewing emerging topics from leading journals in environmental science and ecology. Additionally, we will examine a variety of experimental designs, laboratory methods, and statistical approaches used by environmental scientists to investigate and understand environmental processes and human impacts. A research assignment will enhance writing skills. Prerequisite: Biology 263 or Environmental Studies 271. Four credit hours. McDowell
ES401f, ES402s    Environmental Studies Colloquium Attendance at selected program colloquia during the fall and spring semesters; written reflections to be submitted. Required of all senior environmental studies majors. Typically taken in addition to a normal four-course semester. One credit hour for the year. Prerequisite: Senior standing in environmental studies. Noncredit. Nyhus
ES476s    Seminar: Economics of Ecosystem Services and Biodiversity Listed as Economics 476. Four credit hours. Dissanayake
ES484s    Honors in Environmental Studies Majors approved for admission into the Environmental Studies Honors Program may elect this for the January Program or the spring semester. Requires research conducted under the guidance of a faculty member and focused on an approved topic leading to the writing of a thesis. A maximum of eight credits (including Environmental Studies 491 in the fall semester) may be earned in honors work. Upon successful completion of the thesis, an oral presentation, and all requirements for the major, the student will graduate with "Honors in Environmental Studies." Prerequisite: Senior standing and a 3.50 grade point average in the major at the end of the junior year or permission of the program. One to four credit hours. Faculty
ES491f, 492s    Independent Study Independent study devoted to a topic chosen by the student with the approval of the program committee. Prerequisite: Junior or senior standing as an environmental studies major or minor. One to four credit hours. Faculty
ES493f    Environmental Policy Practicum An in-depth analysis of current issues and policies affecting the environment. Students work individually and collaboratively on a project with a common theme and are assigned unique roles as researchers, editors, and technical coordinators. Reading and discussion of primary literature is augmented with invited speakers, field trips, and student presentations. Prerequisite: Environmental Studies 233 (for domestic emphasis) or 234 (for international emphasis), and senior standing as an environmental studies policy major. Four credit hours. McClenachan, Reynolds
ES494f    Problems in Environmental Science Causes of and solutions to selected environmental problems are investigated through lectures, laboratory and field work, discussions, and guest presentations. Focuses on completion of a group research project with methods used by private consulting firms and governmental agencies to investigate freshwater (section A) or marine (section B) environmental problems. Research results are presented in a public forum at the end of the semester. The civic engagement component provides useful information to the community and the state and gives students experience interacting with interested stakeholders. Skill development includes research, communication (both oral and written), and collaborative work skills. Prerequisite: Environmental Studies 271 and senior standing as an environmental science major. Five credit hours. Bruesewitz