Scenes of Green Mountain College
Home > Environmental Studies > Course Descriptions

Course Descriptions

ENV 1001: Introduction to Environmental Studies
Environmental Studies is a critical, interdisciplinary, problem-solving major that seeks to cultivate students capable of analyzing, evaluating, and synthesizing information from multiple sources so that they can render reasoned decisions and take appropriate, effective action. This course is designed to introduce you to the interdisciplinary field of Environmental Studies. To that end, I will endeavor to acquaint you with a variety of environmental issues, and the way various disciplines address that issue. This course will introduce the areas you will study further in the Environmental Studies majors through a case study method. This course will also help you develop an understanding of contemporary bioregional theory and apply this understanding to your new bioregion.
1 credit

ENV 1002: Environmental Studies Freshman Retreat
The ES Freshman Retreat is an opportunity for incoming students to interact with one another, learn about the program curriculum, begin charting their academic trajectory and meet GMC faculty and alumni. Activities include a naturalist hike, group discussions and an exploration of the ES requirements and expectations.

Transfer students with more than 15 credits and students declaring an ES major after the first year are exempt from the Freshman Retreat. However, those students entering as declared majors are required to fulfill this requirement in a subsequent year if they fail to attend.
No credit

ENV 2001: Campus Sustainability
This course aims to inform students about institutional sustainability initiatives (incl. environmental, social and economic), and to encourage students to serve as advocates for sustainability at GMC. Students will learn about the history of the campus sustainability movement, and its impact at GMC. They will learn about tools being used to assess and implement sustainable behavior on college campuses, and critically analyze popular metrics. Finally, students will focus on effective communication and outreach skills to broadcast messages of sustainable behaviors to multiple stakeholders within campus community.
1 credit

ENV 2010: Introduction to Geographic Information Systems
Geographic information systems is a computer-based system that stores, retrieves, visualizes, queries, and analyzes digital data. This data can represent topography, soils, population, infectious disease outbreaks, areas of pollution, town zoning, rivers, town boundaries, protected environments, etc. GIS is used to address numerous areas of inquiry, including: (1) natural and social sciences, (2) community planning, (3) resource management, (4) habitat assessment & ecological monitoring, (5) environmental modeling, and many others! This class will introduce you to the fundamental theories and concepts of a GIS, cartographic design, database management, spatial analysis, and provide hands on experience through a service-learning project.
4 credits

ENV 2011: Public Policy & the Environment
An introduction to the environmental policy process in the United States. Focuses on the history and evolution of political institutions, federal and state roles in decision-making, and the global context of U.S. environmental policy. Emphasizes the intersection of science and policy. Specific topics include federalism, mechanics and elements of policy formation, the political uses of science, risk assessment and management, scientific uncertainty, environmental justice, and implementation and enforcement of environmental policies.
3 credits

ENV 2015: Environmental Advocacy, Public Policy & Corporate Responsibility
This course investigates the important role that citizen action plays in bringing about positive environmental and social change. Throughout history, citizen action has brought about significant changes in public policies and corporate behavior for environmental and social improvement. This course investigates the role that individuals and advocacy groups play in the development of environmental policy and demanding corporate environmental responsibility. The full range of options for citizen participation in the democratic and market processes are reviewed.
3 credits

ENV 2019: Special Topics on Energy & the Environment
This course offers students an opportunity to conduct an in-depth investigation of a current topic on energy and the environment. Each time the course is offered, it will focus on a different topic. Topics may include transportation, electric utility deregulation, renewable energy, or energy use and global climate change. A topic for the course will be selected from current issues facing society and based on students’ interests. This is a policy-oriented course that is designed to provide students a hands-on, research-oriented learning experience.
3 credits

ENV 3000: Special Topics in Environmental Studies
This course is an advanced reading and/or research seminar on issues, theories and/or methods in environmental studies. The course may be repeated for credit if the topic has changed.
3 credits

ENV 3011: Environmental Law
This course is a survey of the leading federal and state statutes and cases on environmental issues. Questions examined during the course of the semester include: Who can bring suit on environmental issues? What results from those lawsuits? How effective are federal and state statutes and regulations in solving environmental problems? How are the implementation and enforcement of environmental statutes affected by the interactions between the branches of government? Prerequisite: ENV 2011 Public Policy & the Environment.
3 credits

ENV 3014: Watershed Management & Policy
Clean water is essential for life, yet this vital resource is not distributed evenly across the planet. Using local, national, and international examples, students will learn about policies—and the politics—that govern water management. This class examines how government institutions have established rules for using water and the decision-making procedures for amending those rules. Students will develop analytical skills by critically assessing the effectiveness of these rules and decision-making processes. We will also explore how private groups have attempted to influence policies related to water pollution, quality and supply. In addition to field excursions within our local watershed and explorations of U.S. water policy, students will develop deeper understandings of the international aspects of water policy, including water conflict and water supply issues in developing countries.
3 credits

ENV 3016: Land Use Planning
This class introduces students to the legal, political, and economic considerations of land use planning. Starting with an overview of land use planning in the United States, students consider different eras of planning and land use law in the United States, specific land use tools (the Town Plan, zoning bylaws, conditional uses, variances, etc.), as well as the current application of land use law. Students also work through Vermont’s Act 250 as both example of statewide land use planning regimes, and as a template for a variety of land use issues including wastewater treatment, impact fees, and traffic considerations. Drawing on the work of Christopher Alexander and others, students contemplate the larger questions of human use and manipulation of space and examine western preference for spatial arrangements.
3 credits

ENV/ELA 3021: Sustainable Development: Theory & Policy
To alleviate poverty and raise living standards, third world nations need to aggressively pursue economic development. If the resource- and energy-intensive western model of development is followed in these countries severe resource shortages and widespread environmental degradation are likely to ensue. Sustainable development theory has emerged to describe an alternative path to economic development that averts potential resource and environmental crises. This course analyzes these theories and critically evaluates alternative sustainable development policies.
3 credits

ENV 3023/SOC 3001: Human Ecology
This course draws strongly on anthropology and ecology, as well as a variety of other disciplines, in order to study humans and human societies from ecological perspectives. We will examine both the benefits and difficulties associated with the application of ecological concepts to humans. Topics include human adaptation; continuity and change in human ecosystems; human epidemiology and infectious disease; and the role of symbolic cognition, politics and power, and globalization as they affect human ecosystems.
3 credits

ENV 3026/PHI 3025: Animal Ethics
What is the appropriate ethical relationship between humans and nonhuman animals? This course is a systematic study of animal ethics, a field that has emerged as a response to the profound impact of human practices on other species. Topics will include animal experimentation, hunting, bushmeat, livestock agriculture, landscape sustainability, biodiversity, companion animals, vegetarianism, activism, suffering, animal intelligence, animal cultures, animal emotions, animal rights law, and the tension between animal rights and environmental ethics.
3 credits

ENV 3028: Wildlife Law & Policy
This is a course about the birds and the bees. –No not that kind of course, but one where we look at how we as a society protect wildlife through laws and policies. In the first part of the course we will examine the wildlife law and policy in the United States. We will look at the various actors and their roles in the system. In the second part of the course we will turn out focus beyond the domestic borders and look at how international law addresses wildlife protection. Students will get to select specific topics for case studies in the final portion of our course.
3 credits

ENV 3031: Environmental Studies Teaching Practicum
Teaching experience for advanced students arranged with an individual faculty member. The course aims to enhance a student’s ability to communicate information and skills learned in the major. Prerequisite: Junior standing and a 3.3GPA.
1-3 credits

ENV 3035: Comparative Environmental Politics
This upper-division seminar for ES majors and other students interested in politics and the environment, is a political science course rooted in the sub-discipline of comparative politics. Each time the course is offered, it focuses on a different salient topic (for example: water wars, Native American environmental politics, or agricultural policy and politics). As a repeatable special topics course, it offers Green Mountain College students, over the course of their educational experience, the opportunity to take a close look at relationships between environmental problems, politics, and policy in diverse places across the globe.
3 credits

ENV 3037: International Environmental Law & Policy
This course is designed to give students an overview of the legal and political framework that constitutes international environmental law. In the first part of the course we will examine the characteristics of international law and distinguish it from domestic law. We will then look at the various actors and their roles in the system. Students will become familiar with the key principles of international environmental law such as the precautionary principle, sovereignty, and sustainable development. In the later part of the course we will examine major international environmental law topics such as: climate change, the oceans, and the relationship between trade and the environment. Students will select four of these major areas for our study.
3 credits

ENV/NRM 3082: Forest Policy & Management
In this course, students will examine the causes and consequences of past policies aimed to promote the long-term economic and ecological health of forest ecosystems. Students will learn about the political institutions and parties involved in the creation and implementation of forest policies at the local, state, national, and international levels. Contemporary issues related to forest management to be covered may include private lands issues, community-based conservation, woody biomass-to-energy initiatives, climate change and carbon sequestration, wilderness policy and management, and urban forestry. Through field trips to local forests, conversations with forestry professionals, and course assignments, students will gain deeper understandings of what sustainable forestry policies might look like in the northeastern United States.
3 credits

ENV 3093: The Environmental Professional
This class provides Environmental Studies majors with the interpersonal skills and knowledge necessary to become professionals in environmental fields. Students study methods of resolving a wide variety of environmental disputes using local case studies and close interaction with local environmental practitioners. Students will assess their strengths and areas of challenge in terms of work, communication and conflict resolution skills, in anticipation of their last year of undergraduate education. Students prepare professional materials, including a portfolio of their academic work, in anticipation of junior year review, internship and professional interviews.
1 credit

ENV 3190: Watershed Alliance Practicum
The Green Mountain College Watershed Alliance internship will entail learning about stream ecology and watershed science, group management skills and techniques in the field and classroom, and science as inquiry. After the successful completion of trainings, students will have the opportunity to apply their knowledge and skills working in the field and classroom with local secondary schools. Students must be a junior or senior to apply.
1 credit

ENV 4000: Topics in Energy and the Environment
This course provides students with the opportunity to explore in great detail emerging issues in energy policy and markets. The transition to a sustainable energy future requires innovative approaches to policy and rules governing energy market operations. Topics may include peak oil and the global petroleum market or emerging federal policy to combat global climate change. The topics for this course will be selected based on current events and student interests.
3 credits

ENV 4015: Environmental Policy Research, Writing, and Analysis
The course goal is for groups of students to draft legislation for Vermont’s legislature on environmental issues. To accomplish this we will select and research issues in consultation with state environmental groups. We will explore legal and non-legal research, inside and outside the library, electronic and in print. We will analyze existing legislation on our issue for its effectiveness and political aspects. We will study legislative drafting through studying the principles of drafting, examining existing legislation, and drafting statutes ourselves. Finally, we will lobby our issues with members of the state legislature. We will read deeply in policy analysis and apply what we learn to current environmental issues.
3 credits

ENV 4070: Environmental Studies Senior Seminar
Students in this course will learn how to plan and implement an extensive self-directed research project related to a topical area within the field of environmental studies. Students will examine different approaches to environmental studies research and learn how to integrate information from different disciplines to analyze environmental issues. Students will also focus on improving their professional writing and oral presentations skills, developing resumes, preparing graduate school applications and learning how to effectively communicate information to diverse audiences.
3 credits

ENV 4090: Internship
Under the direction of an advisor, a student may arrange a period of practical experience that will make substantive use of the knowledge and skills acquired in the Environmental Studies major. Evaluative reports will be expected from both student and off-campus supervisor. Internship proposals will be evaluated by the Environmental Studies Committee, and the internship itself will be monitored and evaluated by the advisor. Prerequisite: Junior or Senior standing.
3 credits

ENV 4093: Research in Environmental Studies
Under the direction of an advisor, a student may arrange to do a research project relating to some area of Environmental Studies. The project should be based on prior course work, and it should result in a formal product. Proposals for a research project will be evaluated by the Environmental Studies committee, but the research will be monitored and evaluated by the advisor. Prerequisite: Junior or Senior standing.
3 credits

GLG 1000: Geology in Film
Have you ever watched a movie and wondered, “Is that really possible?” Geologists watching these same movies often find themselves thinking, “That’s ridiculous!” This course investigates a varying set of movies, discussing the pertinent geologic processes and evaluates the science behind “Hollywood’s” interpretation and representation of geologic processes and events. Grades will be evaluated based on in-class discussions in addition to outside readings and writing assignments.
1 credit

GLG 1011: Introduction to Geology
This course will focuses on the Earth’s composition, structure, and systems. We will investigate the processes at work within the Earth as well as surface processes that shape the modern landscape. We will examine how geologic phenomena are linked together through dynamic systems and how they impact our environment, society and economy. Laboratory experiences will place a regional emphasis on the geology of Vermont and New England when appropriate. Topics of discussion will include but are not limited to: geologic time, rocks and minerals, earthquakes, volcanoes, the oceans, the atmosphere, weathering, groundwater, glaciers, and plate tectonics.
4 credits

GLG 2031: Soils
This course will examine why soil types vary with time, climate, topography, and geologic materials. Students will learn various soil classification techniques, become familiar with soil taxonomy and basic soil chemistry. An emphasis will be placed on the application of soil science to ecology, geology, and agronomy. Laboratory experiences will consist of a balance between lab-based technical analyses and applied field-based mapping and description techniques.
4 credits

GLG 2041: Geomorphology
This course focuses on the origin and genesis of landforms and landscapes created by processes acting at or near the Earth’s surface. We will primarily focus on the development of continental landscapes (e.g. – volcanoes, glaciers, rivers, oceans, etc) throughout the Cenozoic. Laboratory experiences will investigate spatial relationships between landforms, topographic map interpretation and construction, aerial photograph interpretation, geomorphic mapping, and fluvial processes. Prerequisites: GLG 1011 Introduction to Geology.
4 credits

GLG 2071: Geology Field Experience
This course will travel to a regional, national or international geologic field site. Students will be responsible for trip planning, site logistics, and a field-based research project conducted during the spring or fall semester prior to traveling. The research projects will be directed at describing, analyzing and explaining specific geologic processes, features or events.
3 credits

GLG 3001: Special Topics in Geology
This course will be offered upon sufficient demand. The topics covered in the course will vary based on the interests and goals of the students and instructor. Student proposals for course topics can be submitted to the Department of Environmental Studies for consideration. This course will satisfy the requirement for a 3000 level elective.
3 credits

GLG 3010: Climate Dynamics
This course provides a scientific foundation in climate dynamics through multiple scientific perspectives. We will explore the origins of Earth’s climate system, historical and modern climate change, methods used to identify climate change, global atmospheric and ocean currents, ocean and atmospheric chemistry, natural feedback mechanisms, climate forcing, Earth’s energy budget, evaluate global climate models, and explore proposed technological solutions. The primarily goal of this course is to provide a scientific understanding of the physical and chemical processes governing climate.
3 credits

GLG 3041: Hydrogeology
Hydrogeology is the study of the interrelationship between Earth’s systems, with specific interest in the effects of precipitation and evaporation on the occurrence and character of water in streams, lakes, and groundwater. This course will focus on a fundamental understanding of hydrologic processes and reservoirs, the interaction between surface waters and groundwater, hydrologic techniques and instrumentation, and the relationship between human activity and these reservoirs. This course takes a quantitative approach to hydrology, so both homework and laboratory exercises will improve your proficiency with graphical depiction, data interpretation, and applied mathematics.
4 credits

GLG 3051: Sedimentology & Stratigraphy
This course will introduce you to the basic concepts and methods used in the study of the genesis, characteristics, and spatial distribution of sedimentary rocks. We will cover both sedimentary and stratigraphic principles, sedimentary processes and textures, the paleoenvironmental implications of sedimentary rocks, evaluate age relationships, and investigate the modern relationships between humans and sedimentary processes. Laboratory exercises will focus on field-based description and mapping techniques.
4 credits

© 2014 Green Mountain College | One Brennan Circle | Poultney, Vermont 05764 | 800-776-6675 | MyGMC Login | Email Login