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Ecosystem Dynamics and Conservation: If a Tree Falls in the Forest . . .
Energy Matters
Environmental Analysis: Chemistry and Geology of Aqueous Systems
Environmental Conflicts
The Extraordinary Science of Everyday Experience: A Day in the Life

Ecosystem Dynamics and Conservation: If a Tree Falls in the Forest…

cancelled

For an alternative option, refer to the program description for: The Extraordinary Science of Everyday Experience: A Day in the Life

Winter quarter

Major areas of study include:
forest ecology, conservation biology, natural history of the Pacific Northwest, scientific communication and creative writing.
Class Standing:
This Core program is designed for freshmen.

We will examine how forest ecosystems change through time, and how understanding and effectively communicating those dynamics might enhance conservation efforts. We will explore these themes through four activities: 1) documenting and understanding basic natural history of Pacific Northwest systems; 2) recognizing different time scales involved with understanding Pacific Northwest forests; 3) communicating the complexity of natural systems to the media, public and decision-makers; and 4) appreciating the quantitative, analytical and aesthetic aspects in all of these ways of knowing.

Readings and lectures will cover introductory concepts in forest ecology and conservation biology. We will focus on questions concerning the dynamics of individual trees, forest stands, landscapes and biomes. At what rates do trees fall and forests turn over? What are the environmental forces that affect these rates? How do other ecosystem members, such as vertebrates and soil fauna, react to these changes? What makes an ecosystem resilient or fragile? How do human activities affect the rates and magnitudes of forest change?

These questions lend themselves to a new approach to conservation biology and practices. Ecosystems must change through time and yet most preservation efforts focus on stability. Case studies of conservation projects in the Pacific Northwest will be critiqued with these considerations in mind. One critical aspect of research and conservation is disseminating results of scientific study to non-scientists, as strengthening the links between scientists and non-scientists can improve our ability to maintain our planet as well as sustain scientific support within our society. Students will examine scientific themes and then “translate” them to different audiences, including scientists, policy makers and segments of the general public through written and oral presentations. Students will also apply the themes of dynamics, stasis and evolution that concern forest ecosystems to their own lives as they adapt to the college ecosystem, and beyond.

Total:
16 credits.
Enrollment:
46
Special Expenses:
$90 for overnight field trips.
Program is preparatory for:
careers and future studies in ecology, education, conservation, public policy and environmental studies.

Program updates:

03.23.2006:
Nalini Nadkarni has left this program.
06.28.2006:
Bret Weinstein has been added to the faculty for this program.

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Energy Matters

New



Spring quarter

Major areas of study include:
environmental and science policy, energy and society, and environmental communications.
Class Standing:
Juniors and seniors; transfer students welcome.

Energy: physics knows it as “the capacity for performing work.” In ordinary speech it is “the capacity for acting.” In environmental circles, energy is one of the premier resources for life, or as “fire” along with “earth, air, and water.” Whatever the precise definition, energy is key to the existence of industrialized, prosperous economies. At the same time, it is at the heart of all environmental problems, not least of which is climate change. This program will examine energy issues primarily from the viewpoint of politics, policy, biology, and environment. We will emphasize energy issues in the United States, but it is impossible to understand the energy economy without understanding global patterns of energy sources. The program will provide a framework for understanding fuels (oil, coal, gas, nuclear, renewables), energy forms and transformations (electricity, transport, space heating and cooling, manufacturing), and the major energy issues (pollution, climate change, “peaking” of oil and gas, political insecurity, unequal distribution, and others).

In this program, we will attempt to address the larger questions of how and why energy demands in the modern world have become such a problem before suggesting a wide range of ways to address this problem. We will examine energy dynamics in terms of life-cycle analysis, risk assessment and an evaluation of the potential consequences of alternate energy choices. In combination with several other academic programs, Energy Matters will host an exhibit and other events during the week around April 26, which is the 21st anniversary of the explosion of the Chernobyl nuclear reactor in Ukraine. This accident framed the debate over nuclear power for 20 years, but now various sources are calling for a revival of nuclear power and the construction of new reactors here and overseas. Our examination of the events at Chernobyl will provide a focal point for study of the future of the energy economy in which we will ask questions about the international demand for energy and the resulting political disputes. Can the United States break its “addiction to oil?” What are the answers to climate change and the peaking of oil and gas production? Are conservation and efficiency major or minor answers for the future? Is it possible to build political support for new ways of working on energy?

Energy Matters will use lectures, workshops, field trips, seminars, and special events to explore the complex of issues surrounding energy. Participants will complete a mid-term examination covering issues addressed in the first half of the quarter, and will, by the end of spring quarter, have prepared a major research paper. From this document students will prepare a PodCast summarizing their findings and a PowerPoint presentation to present before a small panel of public officials, and the class as a whole.
Total:
16 credits.
Enrollment:
50
Schedule:
Class Schedule
Program is preparatory for:
environmental policy, law, technology assessment, environmental impact assessment, science and technology writing, and environmental communications.
This program is also listed under:
Scientific Inquiry and Society, Politics, Behavior and Change

Program updates:

09.26.2006:
This is a new program for Spring 2007.
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Environmental Analysis: Chemistry and Geology of Aqueous Systems

Fall, Winter and Spring quarters

Major areas of study include:
analytical chemistry, geochemistry, geohydrology, Geographic Information Systems, statistics, chemical instrumentation and group projects. Students leaving at the end of fall quarter will receive lower-division credit. Students who satisfactorily complete at least fall and winter quarters will receive upper-division credit for both quarters.
Class Standing:
Juniors or seniors; transfer students welcome. Sophomores should consult faculty to enroll: Jeff Kelly, (360) 867-6053 or kellyk@evergreen.edu, or Clyde Barlow, (360) 867-6053 or barlowc@evergreen.edu, or Jim Stroh, (360) 867-6762 or strohj@evergreen.edu.
Prerequisites:
One year college chemistry and college algebra required; physical geology and trigonometry strongly recommended.

Baseline assessment of natural ecosystems and determination of environmental contamination require accurate chemical and geological measurements. Students in this program will study geology and chemistry of ecosystems, using theoretical and experimental methods. This program will integrate chemical and physical applications of geology to aquatic systems. Students will learn instrumental techniques of chemical analysis in an advanced laboratory where technical writing will be emphasized.

During fall and winter quarters, topics in geochemistry, hydrology, analytical chemistry, GIS, statistics and instrumental methods of chemical analysis will be addressed. Students will participate in group projects working on the physical and chemical properties of natural water systems, especially lakes, bogs and streams. Procedures based on EPA, USGS and other guidelines will be developed to analyze for both major and trace materials using atomic absorption spectroscopy, inductively-coupled plasma spectroscopy, polarography, ion chromatography and GC-mass spectrometry. Computers and statistical methods will be used extensively for data analysis and simulation as well as for work on GIS.

Spring quarter will be devoted largely to project work and completing studies of statistics and analytical chemistry. Presentation of project results in both oral and written form will conclude the year.

Total:
16 credits fall quarter; 12 or 16 credits winter quarter; 8, 12 or 16 credits spring quarter.
Enrollment:
45
Schedule:
Class Schedule
Special Expenses:
Approximately $250 for one-week field trip to Sun Lakes in eastern Washington.
Internship Possibilities:
Under special circumstances with faculty approval.
Program is preparatory for:
careers and future studies in geology, hydrology, chemistry, environmental analysis and environmental fieldwork.
This program is also listed under:
Environmental Studies and Scientific Inquiry.
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Environmental Conflicts

Spring quarter

Faculty:
Lin Nelson
Major areas of study include:
social science, environmental policy, community studies, social movements and writing.
Class Standing:
This Core program is designed for freshmen.

Environmental conflicts—How do they develop? How are they defined and debated? What values and principles are at stake? Who are the players and protagonists? How are they resolved? Why do some conflicts seem irresolvable? With so many conflicts to think about, we’ll focus on selected, illustrative debates and disputes, with the goal of developing and sharpening our analytical approaches. We’ll consider how inequality, race, class, gender and nationality shape some debates and conflicts. We’ll examine how environmental conflicts intersect with other tensions—whether in trade disputes, population control or regional wars.

Student research teams will examine an environmental conflict of interest; the focus could be on the timber wars of the Northwest, community conflict about a polluting industry or international debates about climate change. The challenge will be to develop research approaches that explore all sides of an issue, critically examine language and argumentation and identify strategies for resolution and change (legislative, litigative, mediation, negotiation, education, international treaties, public interest science, citizen research, community advocacy, etc.). Our learning opportunities will include case studies, citizen strategy guidebooks, consultations with regional professionals and activists, observing debates and discussions in the Washington State Legislature, county hearings and Olympia City Council, as well as role plays, among other scenarios.

The goal is for students to develop frameworks for analyzing conflicts, for engaging in informed debate and participating in the political process and public life. The program should provide and create resources for students who will continue their work in environmental studies, community studies, political economy, public health and social movements. If you are convinced that you’re always right, if you avoid difficult questions and can’t tolerate conflict and debate, this program may not be for you—or it may be just what you need. If you love inquiry and welcome complexity, this program will give you the opportunity to construct a challenging experience.

Total:
16 credits.
Enrollment:
23
Program is preparatory for:
careers and future studies in public/environmental policy, public sector, social science, community development, non-profit and community-based organizations, public interest law, environmental and social justice advocacy.
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The Extraordinary Science of Everyday Experience: A Day in the Life

new



Winter quarter

Major areas of study include:
Biology, environmental science, evolution, logic, earth sciences and philosophy of science.
Class Standing:
This Core program is designed for freshmen.

On an average day in the life of a modern human, we experience much that seems at first difficult, if not impossible, to explain. Why do we sleep? How do we know when the sun will set, or when the moon will be full? Why do we get sick, or age? Why are some organisms—and some people—better at doing a few things very well, while others are generalists? How are the scars of past events—glaciation, floods—evident in our current landscape? How do we know?

In this program, we will follow two fictional characters through their day, as they ask, and figure out how to answer, questions about their environment and experiences. How do we know what we think we know? Using the scientific method as our model for gaining knowledge and understanding natural processes, we will refine hypotheses about what we observe, generate predictions that follow from those, and attempt to falsify our beliefs en route to a more robust view of the natural world. Some of the topics that will be raised include the origin and effects of seasons, the roles of altitude and latitude in determining climate, the fossil evidence for the history of life on Earth, how natural selection has shaped modern organisms, and under what circumstances convergent evolution produces similar forms from different building blocks. We will also investigate several topics relating to the human condition, including how agriculture has transformed human existence, the role of the long period of development in childhood, ethnobotany and the evolution of disease, the pursuit and experience of happiness, and the evolution of morality. Throughout the quarter, we will rely on the importance of metaphor to advance our understanding. Students will be expected to actively engage difficult topics with logic, precision, and a willingness to be wrong, in pursuit of more robust understanding.

Total:
16 credits.
Enrollment:
46
Special Expenses:
$100 for week-long field trip to Oregon or Washington
Program is preparatory for:
careers and future studies in environmental sciences, including ecology and conservation, critical thinking and public policy.

Program updates:

08.29.2006:
This program replaces Ecosystem Dynamics and Conservation: If a Tree Falls in the Forest…
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Last Updated: March 19, 2008


The Evergreen State College

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