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ELA Distribution Requirements

In addition to the four core ELA courses, students are required to take seven additional courses from these distribution categories:

Quantitative Analysis
The quantification of phenomena allows us to understand why and how systems function. Students develop the ability to understand, interpret and analyze quantitative data about environmental issues, to understand the role of such data in problem solving, and to recognize both the power and limits of mathematical analysis.

Natural Systems
Scientific modes of thinking help us gain a better understanding of the natural world. Science involves using observation, deduction, and induction in ways that sharpen problem-solving skills, enhance formal reasoning skills, and develop methods of quantification and analysis. Acquisition of such skills is necessary for citizens who wish to make more informed decisions concerning their actions in a global community.

* Biology majors are exempt from this category, but not from the total credit count for ELA and must substitute another course from any category for the Natural Systems course.

Human Systems
Human beings are deeply embedded in complex social relationships. Our concepts of self, identity, motive, value, and truth can only be understood with reference to other individuals. Indeed, social forces and the histories of every culture and every society profoundly affect our views of ourselves as individuals. Any attempt to understand humans as individuals requires understanding humans as social beings who shape and are shaped by the institutions that govern their lives.

Aesthetic Appreciation
Beauty is a critical component of a good life and is encountered in many different contexts. Aesthetic values play an important role in environmental decision making. Exposure to multiple cultures’ perspectives on beauty deepens our understanding and appreciation for the aesthetic dimensions of our surroundings.

Moral Reasoning
Many of our actions have moral consequences. While scientific understanding can inform us of the material consequences of our actions, it cannot inform us about which of these actions are most morally justified. In a complex and divided world, citizens must be able to weigh the moral implications of actions and to choose appropriately with a full understanding of the moral dimensions of life.

Historical Context
Our past influences who we are. It shapes the cultures in which we live, moves us to view the world in particular ways, and forms how we imagine our future. It can expand or contract our view of what is possible. To become fully human, we must understand our past.

The Examined Life
Understanding of self is critical to understanding the world. This category requires examination of self in relation to natural or social systems with a goal of having students think deeply about how individuals flourish. Elements addressed include personal responsibility, mental, physical, and spiritual development and the effects of our individual lifestyle choices on ourselves and our communities, both natural and human.

Distribution Courses
Students are required to take one course from each category.

Quantitative Analysis


ELA 1105


Quantitative Environmental Analysis

Natural Systems


ELA 1013

ELA 1016

ELA 1017

ELA 1110

ELA 1112

ELA 1114

ELA 1115

ELA 2012

ELA 2110

ELA 3010


Environmental Science

Astronomy: A Guided Tour of the Heavens

Intro to Environmental Chemistry

Local Flora

Wildlife Ecology

Conservation Medicine

Nutrition and Health

Natural History of Vermont

Natural Disasters

Climate Dynamics

Human Systems


ELA 1023

ELA 1027

ELA 1043

ELA 1123

ELA 1124

ELA 1125

ELA 1127

ELA 2021

ELA 2023

ELA 2024

ELA 2026

ELA 2027





Contemporary Social Issues

Simplicity & Sustainability

Utopias: Envisioning the Good Society

Energy & Society

Unraveling Food Systems

Poverty and Inequality in America

Speech Communication

Law & Society

Environmental Justice

Introduction to Systems Thinking

Indigenous America

Conservation Psychology

Contemporary Political Economy

Sustainable Development


Aesthetic Appreciation


ELA 1031

ELA 1035

ELA 1039

ELA 1135

ELA 2032

ELA 2033

ELA 2034

ELA 2035

ELA 2036


Theatre: The Audience Environment

The Western Imagination

Nature in Theatre & Film

The Nature of Design

Stage to Screen: Social Issues in Theatre & Film

Aesthetics: Beauty in the Arts and Literature

Chinese Nature Poetry

Natural Science Illustration

Latin American Literature

Moral Reasoning


ELA/PHI 1045

ELA 1049

ELA 3041


Environmental Ethics

Moral Beliefs: Who's to Say?

Ethical Theory

Historical Contexts


ELA/HIS 1057

ELA/HIS 1058

ELA 3054

ELA/HIS 3058


World History & the Environment

American Views of the Environment

The Silk Roads

Chicago: History of a Built Environment

The Examined Life


ELA 1061

ELA 1066

ELA 1068

ELA 1121

ELA 1161

ELA 2045

ELA 2065


The Sacred Earth

The Vegetarian Lifestyle

Exploring Virtues

Multiculturalism, Diversity Awareness & Social Justice

Body and Being: Tribal Dance and Spirituality

International Negotiation (3 credits)

Homesteaders Ecology (3 credits)

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