2008-09 Catalog

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Planning Unit

Environmental Studies

The Environmental Studies (ES) planning unit offers broadly interdisciplinary academic studies within and across three distinctive thematic areas, Human Communities and the Environment, Natural History and Environmental Sciences. Programs emphasize interdisciplinary, experiential study and research primarily in the Pacific Northwest with additional work in other areas of the United States and Canada. Foreign study is possible. Included in the unit is an emphasis on global climate change and sustainability. Climate change is representative of the interdisciplinary approach to environmental studies. Programs focusing on climate change can be found in all three of the thematic areas. Similarly, unit faculty members are currently engaged in sustainability studies across the entire campus curriculum. Research methods and analysis emphasize field observation, quantitative and qualitative methods, and Geographic Information Systems. In any year, each thematic area explores a set of topics listed here:

Human Communities and the Environment—Addresses environmental policy, ethics and human relations with, and ways of thinking about, the natural world. It includes community studies, ecological agriculture, environmental communication, environmental economics, environmental health, environmental history, environmental law and policy, geography, land-use planning and policy, political economy, global climate change and sustainability.

Natural History—Focuses on observation, identification and interpretation of flora and fauna using scientific field methods as a primary approach to learning how the natural world works. It includes botany, ecology, entomology, herpetology, invertebrate zoology, mammalogy, mycology, ornithology, and exploration of issues in biodiversity and global climate change.

Environmental Sciences—Investigates primarily with the study of the underlying mechanisms and structures of natural systems, both living and nonliving. Environmental sciences often involve significant laboratory and field work. They include biogeochemistry, biology, chemistry, climatology, ecology, evolutionary biology, forest ecology, geology, hydrology, environmental analysis, marine biology, oceanography, and issues of global climate change.

Students planning their academic path in environmental studies will find the frequency of topics offered, prerequisites for study, breadth of liberal arts education, and graduate school admissions requirements described in individual programs. Students new to environmental studies might consider taking Introduction to Environmental Studies (different versions are offered every year), which is intended for sophomore and transfer students, but is also open to well-prepared freshmen. Most freshmen should consider core programs that include topics in environmental studies. Further study may depend on having basic prerequisites; carefully read the program catalog and talk to faculty to ensure that you are prepared for the program of your choice.

Specific topics recur in the curriculum at various frequencies and can be experienced either as a component of an interdisciplinary program or in-depth in an advanced, focused program. Some faculty teach similar topics each year as part of interdisciplinary programs that have widely differing accompanying topics depending on the overall themes of the program.  Environmental Studies has repeating programs that are offered every year or every other year; note that because our faculty have multiple areas of expertise, the program titles, mix of faculty, and exact topics may vary from year to year in repeating programs. Ecological Agriculture is taught every other year and Practice of Sustainable Agriculture yearly. Other repeating programs include Animal Behavior, Hydrology, Marine Life, Plant Ecology and Taxonomy; Temperate Rainforests and Tropical Rainforests offered on an alternate-year schedule. Programs focusing on human communities and environmental policy are also offered every year, although the program titles change. Environmental Studies also provides one-of-a-kind programs created in response to a unique combination of interests, events and significant environmental concerns.

It is highly recommended that students who intend to pursue upper division and graduate studies in environmental studies or science take a minimum of one full year of undergraduate study in biology, chemistry and statistics. Students may also consider gaining research experience by participating in the Advanced Research in Environmental Studies program.
To help you choose your programs, the descriptions on the following pages list the significant content in each of the three thematic areas. Students should feel free to call or e-mail faculty whose interests overlap their own to seek advice.

The Evergreen State College’s Graduate Program on the Environment offers a Master of Environmental Study (MES) degree.  This graduate program integrates the study of the biological, physical, and social sciences. The Masters in Environmental Studies (MES) program shares faculty with the undergraduate curriculum and MES electives, which are taught in the evenings, frequently allow advanced undergraduates to enroll. For complete information on admissions requirements and procedures, please consult the current catalogue of the Graduate Program on the Environment or visit www.evergreen.edu/mes.