Environmental Studies Program


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, Nyhus, Walker
[ES120]    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. Four credit hours. W1.
[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.
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. 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. 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
[ES215]    Weather, Climate, and Society Listed as Science, Technology, and Society 215. Four credit hours. N.
ES216s    Philosophy of Nature Listed as Philosophy 216. Four credit hours. Peterson
ES217s    Environmental Chemistry Listed as Chemistry 217. Three credit hours. McKinney
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
ES219j    Architectural Design Workshop Listed as Art 218. Three credit hours. Lock
[ES228]    Nature and the Built Environment Listed as American Studies 228. Four credit hours. H.
ES231s    Environmental and Natural Resource Economics Listed as Economics 231. Four credit hours. Bouvier Guarna
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
[ES243]    Environmental Ethics Listed as Philosophy 243. Four credit hours.
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 Listed as Biology 271. Four credit hours. N, Lb. Becknell, Moore
ES276f    Global Change Ecology Provides an interdisciplinary introduction to the principles of climate, ecosystems, and biogeochemistry needed to understand human impacts on the natural environment. Students will study the impacts of climate warming, our changing atmosphere, land-use change, altered hydrologic and nutrient cycles, and other global changes. We will examine key elements of global ecosystem function and investigate how human activities have altered global ecosystems since the Industrial Revolution. We will critically assess scientific evidence for anthropogenic changes, and consider both impacts and solutions to the challenges of global changes. Relies heavily on reading of primary scientific literature and group participation and discussion. Prerequisite: Environmental Studies 118 and one college-level science course. Four credit hours. Bruesewitz
ES277f    Vertebrate Natural History Listed as Biology 277. Four credit hours. Bevier
ES279j    Geology of Bermuda Listed as Geology 279. Three credit hours. Rueger
ES282j    Extreme Climate Change in the Gulf of Maine Listed as Biology 282. Three credit hours. Countway
ES283f    Environmental Humanities: Stories of Crisis and Resilience Listed as English 283. Four credit hours. L. Walker
ES297j    Creative Environmental Storytelling Explores the roles of awe, mindfulness, and active imagination in environmental writing. Students will be encouraged to access their "inner hermit" and explore how, as biological beings, we can create effective storytelling to envision a future where all life thrives. Students will explore the writings of others and practice writing their own stories. Introduces the idea of the evolutionary body and how it can relate to effective engagement for positive environmental change. Three credit hours. Williams
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
ES328f    Radical Ecologies Listed as Philosophy 328. Four credit hours. Peterson
[ES331]    Natural Resource Economics Listed as Economics 341. Prerequisite: Economics 223. Four credit hours.
ES332f    Chemical Methods of Analysis Listed as Chemistry 331. Four credit hours. Team
ES337s    Climate Fiction Listed as English 337. Four credit hours. Walker
ES338s    Forest Ecosystems Forest ecosystems regulate climate, store and filter water, provide food and fiber, and serve as recreational areas and sacred spaces. These ecosystems are undergoing dramatic changes with important ecological, economic, and social consequences. We will use cutting-edge methods in ecosystem science to explore how forest ecosystems are changing and how that influences the value we derive from forests. An interactive lecture and workshop-style lab will introduce a mix of practical skills and theoretical knowledge to serve as tools for understanding the causes and consequences of changing forest ecosystems. Prerequisite: Biology 237, 271 or Environmental Studies 271. Four credit hours. N, Lb. Becknell
[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. Prerequisite: Biology 263 or 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
[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.
ES363f    Paleoceanography Listed as Geology GE363. Four credit hours. Koffman
ES364f    Climate Change, Justice, and Health Examines the impacts of changing climate dynamics on human livelihoods, rights, health, and well-being. Through interdisciplinary readings, class discussions, research projects, and innovative communications, students will engage deeply with data from the natural and social sciences about human impacts, adaptations, and vulnerabilities, as well as explore climate justice activism. Key learning goals include improved information literacy and written and oral communication skills and increased understanding of the ways climate change is impacting the world in which we live. Prerequisite: Environmental Studies 118. Four credit hours. Carlson
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.
ES382s    Ecological Modeling Listed as Biology 382. Four credit hours. Moore
ES397j    Elephants and Environment in Sri Lanka An interdisciplinary field course introducing Sri Lanka through the theme of elephants. Students will gain experience with wildlife behavior and ecology, conservation policy, and the interaction of religion, culture, and environment. They will meet scientists and practitioners, undertake research, and complete a field journal. Students will meet at Colby for preparatory activities followed by three weeks in Sri Lanka. Includes visits to national parks, communities, and areas of cultural, economic, and environmental importance. Cost is $3,700. Financial aid is available for qualified students. Three credit hours. Nyhus
ES398s    Waterways and Watershed Moments in North American History Listed as History 398B. Four credit hours. Reardon
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
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.
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