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NOTE: This course schedule is subject to change based on instructional guidelines to comply with COVID restrictions. Courses may be added, cancelled, or moved quarters as deemed necessary.

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View all course descriptions here.

Course # Course Title Fall Winter Spring
201 Earth: A Habitable Planet Bush
202 Health of the Biosphere Walsh
203 Humans and the Environment Xie
390-0-01 Topics: Geographic Information Systems (GIS) Level 1 Xie Xie
390-0-02 Topics: Geographic Information Systems (GIS) Level 2 Xie
390-0-03 Topics: R Data Science Xie
390-0-04 Topics: Plant-Animal Interactions CaraDonna
390-0-05 Topics: Global Change Ecology Xie
390-0-06 Topics: Instrumentation And Field Methods  Beddows


2020-2021 Course Descriptions 

201 – Earth: A Habitable Planet

This course provides an overview of the physical processes governing environmental systems, from the Earth's lithosphere to hydrosphere to atmosphere. We will cover internal and external sources of energy to the Earth system; the processes from tectonic to atmospheric that are driven by that energy; and some human impacts on the resulting environmental systems. Students will gain physical science perspectives on current debates about environmental issues, such as those over water resources, energy, and climate change.

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202 – Health of the Biosphere

This course studies the growth of populations and their interactions in ecological communities. Topics include: the ecological niche; projections of population growth, including the history of human growth, harvesting populations, and population viability analysis of endangered species; interactions among species, including competition, predation, and disease transmission; measuring the diversity of ecological communities; the effects of diversity on energy flow. More advanced topics will also be addressed, including the biodiversity-stability relationship, the economic values of biodiversity and ecosystem function, and the biology and management of metapopulations in fragmented habitats.

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203 – Humans and the Environment

Environmental science is the interdisciplinary study of how humans interact with the living and nonliving parts of their environment. In this course, we will examine current environmental challenges, such as the conservation of biodiversity, the sustainable production of energy, and the implications of human population growth. A case study approach will be used to emphasize the processes of scientific inquiry and discovery.

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390-0-01 – Topics: Geographic Information Systems (GIS) Level 1

Introduction to concepts underlying geographic information systems (GIS) and methods of managing and processing geographic information. Designed for students who have little background but want to learn the fundamentals and applications of GIS. Students will be exposed to both theoretical knowledge and technical skills in this course. Lab assignments and a project will promote students’ application of concepts and skills in solving real-world problems.

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390-0-02 – Topics: Geographic Information Systems (GIS) Level 2

This course offers digital representation and analysis of geospatial phenomena and provides foundations in methods and algorithms used in GIS analysis. The course is designed for students who want to get a comprehensive understanding of GIS and advanced spatial analyses. Each week we will focus on a specific topic and practice the skills in a mini-project. Course project will apply these skills in solving real-world problems based on students' interest of topics. This course requires knowledge of GIS principles at an introductory level. Students are required to have taken ENVR_SCI 390 GIS Level 1, EARTH 390 GIS level 1, PBC 470 GIS level 1, or GEOG 343, or equivalent. The department will verify that this requirement has been met.

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390-0-03 – Topics: R Data Science

As we are in the era of ‘big data’, the quantity and quality of data available for environmental, ecological and earth science research has exploded over the past few decades. The free and open-source R programming language has become a powerful tool in data analysis in scientific research. This course offers an introduction to the fundamentals of data science using the programming language, R. The course contents span from basic R programming skills to advanced skills including data management, visualization and analysis of spatial data such as weather and satellite imagery data. By conducting hands-on exercises and an extensive project, students will develop dynamic and reproducible outputs based on their own fields of interests. This course does not require prior coding experience.

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390-0-04 – Topics: Plant-Animal Interactions

Plant-Animal Interactions: This course will explore the diversity of interactions between plants and animals, including antagonistic interactions (e.g., herbigory), mutualistic interactions (e.g., pollination, seed dispersal and ant-plant associations), and interactions involving multiple species and across trophic levels.

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390-0-05 – Topics: Global Change Ecology

Global environmental change has significant impacts on social and ecological systems around the world. Global Change Ecology is an emerging field that aims to understand the ecological implications of environmental change (especially anthropogenic climate change) and to assess risks under future global change. In this course, students will review the basics of the earth system and climate change before investigating how organisms in terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems respond to climate change. Finally, we will consider the impacts of future climate change and the implications for conservation policy and adaptation management.

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390-0-06 – Topics: Instrumentation And Field Methods

Theory and practicum on electronic instrumentation for monitoring and measurement in earth sciences, including data loggers, conceptual design and construction of electronic sensors, signal processing, data management, and network design. 

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