Considering an ES major or minor? See the ES department course recommendations.

Course level:
100 | 200 | 300 | 400
ES-121 Environmental Issues
Introduction to national and global environmental issues. Students learn the basic concepts of ecology, including population growth models, species interactions, and ecosystem and biosphere processes. Building on this scientific base, students use an interdisciplinary approach to analyze economic, ethical, political, and social aspects of environmental issues. Topics include human population dynamics, air and water pollution, toxic wastes, food production, land use, and energy utilization.


ES-122 Natural Catastrophes and Geologic Hazards
Investigation of natural disasters and the fundamental geologic principles that cause them. Topics include earthquakes, volcanoes, landslides, floods, and tsunamis. The importance of geologic information to land-use planning is discussed. Preparation for these hazards and establishing prediction methods are also evaluated.


ES-123 The Biodiversity Crisis
Exploration of the causes and consequences of the current species extinction crisis. The focus is on why and how the loss of biodiversity is an important environmental threat. Topics will include the importance of biodiversity and healthy ecosystems, the intrinsic and utilitarian values of biodiversity, the social and political issues associated with this issue. Topics will be explored through active engagement in service learning activities and through reading of diverse sources.


ES-124 Meteorology
Study of the atmosphere and atmospheric phenomena, as well as associated interactions with the oceans and the Earth's surface and its organisms. Topics include composition and energy budgets of the atmosphere, cloud development and precipitation, air pressure, winds and fronts, and atmospheric circulation patterns. Destruction of the ozone layer and ultraviolet radiation, the greenhouse effect, pollution, and global warming are also examined.


ES-125 Marine Megafauna
Introduction to the ecology and conservation of large marine animals including marine mammals, sea turtles, sea birds, invertebrates, bony fishes, and sharks. Using marine megafauna examples and case studies, this lecture course integrates fundamental ecological concepts with interdisciplinary discussion of ocean ecosystems, animal physiology and behavior, methodological approaches and technologies, social value and cultural use, and national and international conservation and management.


ES-126 Climatology
Study of the localized weather of a region. Influencing factors of climate are examined, including continental vs. oceanic/lake effects, temperature and precipitation, the role of cyclones and anticyclones, and topographic and organismic alterations. Also analyzed are specific climatological disturbances, such as thunderstorm formation, tornado development and occurrence, hurricane structure and movement, El Nino, and the Southern Oscillation (ENSO), and La Nina.


ES-127 Plants, People and the Environment
Our lives depend on, are enhanced by, and at times even threatened by plants. From the oxygen we breathe to the carbon dioxide we release, our lives (biological, cultural and spiritual) are thoroughly integrated with plants. In this course "Plants, People and the Environment" we examine the biology of plants including the traditional botanical disciplines of anatomy, evolution, ecology, physiology as well as the cultural uses of plants from agriculture to religion. Further, we consider the developing applications of plants in human well-being like pollution remediation, food production and pharmaceuticals.


ES-128 Oceanography
Introduction to our planet's oceans, beginning with the history of oceanography and focusing on the fundamental concepts of chemical, physical, geological, and biological oceanography. Important environmental problems in marine habitats are also explored. Topics include ocean exploration, plate tectonics, hydrothermal vents, currents, tides, upwelling, waves, tsunamis, ocean-climate interactions, El Nino, global nutrient cycles, primary production, biodiversity, pollution, overfishing, and the law of the sea.


ES-130 The Chesapeake Bay Ecosystem
Introduction to the physical, chemical, and biological components of the Chesapeake Bay ecosystem. Emphasis is placed on the history of the Bay, primary production dynamics, habitat types, and pelagic and bottom-dwelling organisms. Human impacts on the Bay and its watershed are discussed, including contemporary issues such as crab and oyster fisheries, aquaculture, nutrient inputs, toxic chemicals, exotic species invasions, and the management goals of the Chesapeake Bay Program


ES-161 Physical & Human Geography
Studies of human activities in its locational context. Topics include basic place name geography, weather and climate, population trends and characteristics, health and human development, culture and language, technology and economic development, human ecology, and environmental problems.


ES-162 World Regional Geography
An introduction to geography through the study of world regions. This course serves to broaden and diversify students’ worldviews on contemporary issues while providing powerful conceptual tools for clearer understanding. Geographic applications emphasize the importance of region, place, spatial scale, and diffusion. Course focuses on the interaction within and between regional cultures, environments, politics, and processes of globalization from a variety of scales. Topics include: human-induced environmental change, population and migration, culture change, international development, regional conflict, and global inequality.


ES-196 Environmental Science and Society
Introduction to the methods and assumptions underlying environmental science as applied to current environmental problems and their intersection with modern society. Building from a foundation in the natural sciences, an interdisciplinary approach is used to investigate the social causes and consequences of air and water pollution, human population, food production, energy, natural resource use, toxic waste, endangered species, land conservation, and environmental health.


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ES-211 Principles of Ecology
Introduction to current ideas in theoretical and empirical ecology. A quantitative approach is used to examine population dynamics, competition, predator-prey interactions, life-history strategies, species diversity patterns, community structure, energy flow, biogeochemical cycling, and the biosphere. Course provides a foundation for further work in environmental studies. Three class hours and laboratory. Prerequisite: ES 196 or one year of college science.


ES-223 Earth System Science
Introduction to the natural environment and human interaction with it. Course examines the physical processes of the Earth's atmosphere, hydrosphere, lithosphere, and biosphere. Topics include geological processes and hazards, water resources, waste management, energy and mineral resources, and human impact on global climate change. Lab sessions provide practical exercises on basic earth systems principles and environmental applications. Local field trips to environmental and geological sites are included. Prerequisite: ES 196 or one year of college science.


ES-225 Environmental Humanities
Introduction to environmental humanities. Using the interdisciplinary lenses of literary studies, history, philosophy, and communication studies, students consider how human beings imagine nature, how they communicate ideas about nature, and the ways in which these understandings affect the material environment. Discussions and assignments emphasize humanities research methods and explore topics such as wilderness, environmental justice, and consumerism, highlighting how language and media shape (and are shaped by) cultural perceptions of the environment. Prerequisite: ES 196 and sophomore status.


ES-230 Introduction to Geographic Information Systems
Introduction to geographic information systems and science, and applications to environmental studies. Topics include GPS and spatial data input, cartography and map projections, data models and database development, spatial analysis, and evaluation of uncertainty. Laboratory exercises use ArcGIS software to provide hands-on experience in the use and analysis of geographic data. Prerequisites: ES 196 and sophomore status


ES-240 Energy: Production and Use
Conventional and alternative energy sources are examined with respect to supply, price, technology, and environmental impact. U.S. consumption patterns are studied and the potential of conservation is addressed. Topics include nuclear reactors, fossil fuel supply, photovoltaics, air pollution, greenhouse effect, and energy efficient architecture. Prerequisite: ES196 or one year of college science


ES-241 Environmental Journalism
Exploration of environmental issues through the reading and writing of journalistic prose. Highlighting the historical roots of environmental journalism and contemporary practices, the course focuses on reporting and writing stories for the public in formats typical to newspapers, magazines, and online media such as blogs. Fundamentals to such writing include developing: 1) basic techniques for organizing stories that evoke interest and convey scientific and technical information accurately; 2) newsgathering techniques like researching credible sources and interviewing; 3) clean, crisp writing through attention to the iterative process of drafting, peer reviewing, and revising. Prerequisite: ES 196 or ES 225, and English writing class at level 110 or higher, or permission of the instructor.


ES-251 The Rocky Mountain West: Physical Geography
Intensive two-week field-based examination of the physical and cultural geography of the Rocky Mountain West. Focusing on the San Juan Mountain Range in Southwest Colorado, students participate in home stays, service-learning activities, and other field-based projects to examine regional social-environmental relations from diverse multi-cultural, institutional, and political-economic perspectives. In this way, students develop a critical place-based understanding of how recent "New West" socio-economic changes are impacting these relations, including new efforts to achieve ecologically sustainable and socially just solutions to land management problems


ES-252 The Rocky Mountain West: Cultural Geography
Intensive two-week field-based examination of the physical and cultural geography of the Rocky Mountain West. Focusing on the San Juan Mountain Range in Southwest Colorado, students participate in home stays, service-learning activities, and other field-based projects to examine regional social-environmental relations from diverse multi-cultural, institutional, and political-economic perspectives. In this way, students develop a critical place-based understanding of how recent "New West" socio-economic changes are impacting these relations, including new efforts to achieve ecologically sustainable and socially just solutions to land management problems


ES-263 Remote Sensing
An introduction to the theory and practice of remote sensing, the science of acquiring information about the earth from air or space borne sensors. The first part of the course focuses on principles of remote sensing, sensor technology, and basic image processing. The course culminates in a change detection project where students acquire, process, and analyze image pairs to map an environmental change such as deforestation, urbanization, or flooding. Prerequisite: ES 230, or permission of instructor.


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ES-302 Wildlife Ecology
Wildlife Ecology. Study of ecological applications for managing terrestrial vertebrate populations and their habitats. Building on topics in Principles of Ecology (ES211), this lecture and laboratory develops an in-depth understanding of wildlife ecology, management techniques, ecological survey techniques, and data analysis. Emphasis is on application through the use of current field protocols and analytical techniques. The class draws on literature and examples from around the world. Prerequisite: ES 211 or BIO 111.


ES-304 Landscape Ecology
Analysis of ecological patterns and processes at the landscape scale. Lecture and laboratory provide a comprehensive introduction to this rapidly developing field in ecology. Studying ecological processes at large spatial scales has been facilitated by the development of Geographical Information Systems (GIS) and more specialized computer programs. This course provides an opportunity to develop GIS skills and gain experience in analysis of spatial environmental and ecological data. Emphasis on practical learning through laboratory exercises and coursework. Prerequisite: ES 211 and ES 230.


ES-306 Marine Ecology
Analysis of the ecology of marine systems. The open ocean, estuaries, salt marshes, beaches, mud and sand flats, seagrass beds, rocky shores, coral reefs, and deep sea are examined. Problems of pollution, beach erosion, and the management of declining fisheries is also presented. Quantitative field work in a variety of coastal habitats is conducted on a required field trip to Duke University Marine Laboratory and the Outer Banks barrier island chain. Three class hours and laboratory-field work. Alternate years. Prerequisite: ES 211.


ES-312 Environmental Applications of Geographic Information Systems
Application of geographic information systems and spatial analytic methods to selected environmental problems. Students will solidify their existing GIS skills, as well as learn new analytic strategies such as exploratory spatial data analysis, quantitative landscape analysis, and spatial interpolation. Lab exercises focus on environmental applications such as constructing habitat suitability models, quantifying habitat fragmentation, mapping wilderness, and identifying environmental health "hot spots". Each student will also complete a final project related to an environmental issue, where they will define project needs, develop a GIS database, conduct spatial analyses, and present results. Prerequisite: Environmental Studies 230. Alternate Years.


ES-316 Conservation Biology
A discipline comprising pure and applied science, which focuses on the preservation of biological diversity. Focus implicitly recognizes that preserving the genetic and ecological features of a species requires preservation of that species' niche. Topics include food web organization, spatial heterogeneity and disturbance, consequences of small population size and inbreeding, captive propagation, demographics of population growth, and species reintroduction and management. Prerequisite: Environmental Studies 211 or BIO 111.


ES-317 Chesapeake Bay: Science, Policy and Environmental Issues
Examines the ecology of the Chesapeake Bay region in the context of society's exploitation of a natural system. We will trace the settlement of the region with an emphasis on how the Bay affected the society that developed along its shores and, in turn, how the Bay was affected by this human development. Readings from the scientific literature will be combined with those from history, sociology, and economics to form a coherent portrait of the interplay between society and the environment. Prerequisite: Environmental Studies 211. Alternate Years


ES-318 Glaciers and Record of Climate Change
Introduction to glacial geology and records of climate change over the last 2 million years. Course examines basic glaciology, glacial erosion and depositional processes. Analysis of landforms is used to make interpretations of climatic variability. Climate records from ice cores and sediment cores are evaluated. Natural and human induced climate change is discussed. Prerequisite: Environmental Studies 223 or permission of instructor.


ES-319 Environmental Film
Study of environmental films and their role in shaping environmental imaginations and actions in contemporary life. Applies fundamentals of film analysis to critical stylistic, textual and contextual (historical and political-economic) investigations of both fictional and documentary environmental films. Topics include Hollywood films about wildlife, wilderness, land use, technology and pollution, and documentaries on wildlife conservation, wilderness-adventure, and socio-nature themes. Prerequisite: ES 225 and any 200 level Environmental Studies course or permission of the instructor.


ES-322 Geomorphology
Introduction to earth surface processes and landform analysis. Course examines basic geomorphologic processes including weathering and erosion, soil formation, mass movements, river processes, eolian systems, and glacial environments. Analysis of landforms from aerial photographs and topographic maps is used to make interpretations of climatic variability. Investigations of the interaction between natural surface processes and human modification of landscapes are discussed.


ES-323 Geologic Disasters and Global Change
Investigation of geologic disasters and their relationship to global change. Course focuses on natural disasters that affect the surface of the Earth, including landslides, floods, El Nino, coastal erosion, sea level rise, droughts and desertification. The interaction between natural surface processes and human modification of landscapes are discussed. Prerequisite: Environmental Studies 223 or permission of instructor. Alternate Years


ES-333 Environmental Policy
Analysis of the policies that guide the use, control and management of natural resources. Students examine the laws, bureaucracies, economics, politics and ideologies underlying policy making processes in order to understand how and why certain policies emerge as well as their social and ecological effects. The primary focus is on the United States, but the growing international dimension of environmental policies and the ambiguous role of the US in these efforts is also considered. Prerequisite: ES 196 or POL 101. Cross-listed: Political Science 333 and ES 333


ES-334 Global Environment and Development
Examination of the cultural, political, and economic processes driving uneven environmental change and socioeconomic development from an interdisciplinary political ecology perspective. Course focuses on sustainable development issues in the developing world, but includes discussion of the industrialized countries to a lesser extent. Topics covered include: population, poverty, and the environment; cultural adaptation to environmental change; conservation-development dilemmas; environmental justice; role of non-governmental organizations; international environmental policy. Prerequisite: ES 196 and ES 225. Alternate Years


ES-350 Coastal Ecology of Maine
Intensive two-week field and laboratory experience to investigate marine and terrestrial environments in Maine. Students collect and analyze data, using quantitative sampling techniques to test hypotheses on the ecology of major habitats. Field sites include rocky and soft-sediment shores, open beaches, spruce-fir forests, blueberry barrens, and peat bogs. Emphasis is on the geological phenomena that created North America's glaciated landscape. Relationships between environment and human activities in this rural area with its natural resource-based economy are explored. Prerequisite: Environmental Studies 211.


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ES-400 Seminar
Advanced study of an important national or global environmental issue. Interdisciplinary approach is used to analyze the problem from a variety of viewpoints in the humanities, social sciences, and natural sciences. Students are responsible for a major term paper involving independent research. Topics differ each semester. Prerequisite: Senior standing as a minor or major in environmental studies or permission of instructor; and ES 196, 211, 223, 225, and 230.


ES-450 Individualized Study
Individualized tutorial counting toward the minimum requirements in a major or minor, graded A-F


ES-451 Individualized Study-Tutorial
Individualized tutorial counting toward the minimum requirements in a major or minor, graded S/U


ES-452 Individualized Study-Tutorial
Individualized tutorial not counting in the minimum requirements in a major or minor, graded A-F


ES-453 Individualized Study-Tutorial
Individualized tutorial not counting in the minimum requirements in a major or minor, graded S/U


ES-460 Individualized Study-Research
Independent investigation of an environmental topic of interest to the student. In conjunction with a faculty member, the student writes a research proposal due the tenth week of the spring semester of the junior year for a project to be conducted in the senior year. Student usually defines a research question and collects data to test a hypothesis. Such work may be done in the laboratory or field or with a computer database. A substantial paper is written and presented orally. Studio, performance, and writing projects may also be appropriate individualized study activities. Prerequisite: Senior standing as a major in environmental studies and a departmental GPA of at least 3.30.


ES-461 Individualized Study-Research
Individualized research counting toward the minimum requirements in a major or minor, graded S/U


ES-462 Individualized Study-Research
Individualized research not counting in the minimum requirements in a major or minor, graded A-F


ES-463 Individualized Study-Research
Individualized research not counting in the minimum requirements in a major or minor graded S/U


ES-472 Individualized Study-Internship
Internship not counting in the minimum requirements in a major or minor, graded A-F


ES-473 Individualized Study-Intern
Internship not counting in the minimum requirements in a major or minor, graded S/U


ES-474 Summer Internship
Summer Internship graded A-F, counting in the minimum requirements for a major or minor only with written permission filed in the Registrar's Office.


ES-475 Summer Internship
Summer Internship graded S/U, counting in the minimum requirements for a major or minor only with written permission filed in the Registrar's Office


ES-477 Half Credit Internship
Half credit internship, graded S/U.


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