Courses, Degrees & Concentrations
Courses on the Environment, Ecology and Sustainability
Students explore their roles as organizational leaders from various perspectives on organizational sustainability including alternative transportation, waste reduction, renewable energy, green building, corporate social responsibility, fair trade, localization, community finance, and other emerging sustainable business practices. Familiarizes students with important concepts, principles, and frameworks relating to the sustainability movement including natural capitalism, triple-bottom-line, and the three E's of sustainability: Economy, Environment, and Equity. Applied focus with emphasis on each student's specific organizational context and future leadership aspirations.
Introduces students to a variety of contemporary organizational case studies in sustainable business. Familiarizes students with many of the corporate leaders who are at the forefront of the sustainable business movement. In addition to case studies covered in class, each student is required to research and present an in-depth case study on an organization or particular area of interest in the sustainable business movement.
Covers the interactions of organisms with their environments and each other, as well as population dynamics, biological communities, and ecosystem functions.
Explores the interactions of science and advocacy in the development of environmental policy. Investigates controversial environmental problems where science and advocacy are confounded and where the common good and special interests are difficult to discern. Students engage in dialogue based on analysis of case studies, including issues related to forest health, use of pesticides, resource development, global warming, and loss of biodiversity.
Introduces the principles of forestry, including the biology of forest ecosystems and the management of these landscapes for societal benefits. Topics include biodiversity, logging practices, fire suppression, sustainable forest management, forest economics, ecological principles, and biogeochemical cycles.
Explores the history, principles, and practices of natural resource use and abuse, particularly in the United States. Emphasizes understanding of scientific and ecological principles and economics as the basis of sustainable human development.
Covers ecological, evolutionary, and genetic principles relevant to the conservation of biological diversity. Includes habitat fragmentation, preserve design, the effects of disturbance on communities, introduced species, ecological restoration, and policy making in conservation.
Examines the structure, methods of analysis, environmental relations, and dynamics of vegetation.
Explores the physical, chemical, and biological properties of freshwater environments. Emphasizes field sampling, laboratory analyses, and identification of major taxonomic and functional groups of aquatic organisms.
Introduces the structure, properties, and composition of matter and chemical changes. Designed primarily to help the non-science major understand the function, importance, and capabilities of chemistry in our environment and culture.
Examines the basic chemical principles as applied to areas of current interest and concern in the natural environment and modern technology. Includes such topics as air and water pollution, toxic waste disposal, use of pesticides and fertilizers, and energy production.
Applies economic analysis directly to environmental problems. Explores market failure, Pareto optimality, externalities, consumer surplus, and market solutions. Introduces benefit-cost analysis and addresses local problems.
Presents an interdisciplinary approach to contemporary issues in Oregon, including politics and history; population demographics; educational problems and reforms; budgetary outlook, tax restructuring, and spending issues; the status of prisons and crimes; and environmental issues.
Explores current topics in environmental education. Presented at Deer Creek Center for Field Research and Education.
Explores the field of environmental education from its beginnings to the present. Considers the diversity of goals and practices in environmental education, including place-based education. Students visit, research, and evaluate environmental education programs and curricula, including both local and national programs. Includes field trips to local programs.
Focuses on environmental education as a profession. Analyzes current literature to evaluate trends within the field. Explores how professional environmental educators contribute to the development of the field, including research and publications.
Studies the physical and biological environment at Deer Creek center for Field Research and Education or another site in the Klamath-Siskiyou bioregion. Students investigate patterns of natural resource use by the community. This knowledge is then used to generate a place-based curriculum for implementation at the field station.
Investigates relevant environmental issues important to today's environmental educators. Prepares future environmental educators to address a wide range of local, regional, and global issues facing society. Areas of study include the loss of biodiversity and strategies for preservation and recovery of threatened species, management of natural resources in a sustainable manner, and global issues affecting the welfare of human population and the biosphere.
This interdisciplinary science course provides students with a basic understanding of the Earth's atmosphere, geosphere, and hydrosphere. Topics include minerals, rocks, atmospheric and oceanic composition, and the structure of the Earth's interior. Provides a framework for students interested in the major processes operating on the Earth's surface and in its interior. Intended for environmental studies students, but also open to students pursuing general education requirements.
Studies the interactions of organisms with their environments and each other at the levels of individuals, populations, communities, and ecosystems, and how organisms and their interactions are shaped by evolution. Introduces biodiversity, species conservation, and ecosystem services.
Studies how people perceive and interact with their bio-physical environment. Develops key concepts and analytic tools from anthropology, economics, geography, political science and sociology. Applies these social scientific perspectives to contemporary environmental issues, like global climate change and forest health in the Pacific Northwest. Develops literacy in the social sciences, and prepares students to make thoughtful choices about how to live, work and interact with their environment.
Explores and analyzes the environment, bringing together the many physical factors that create a complete understanding of Earth system operations. Includes basic concepts and relationships between and among the atmosphere, hydrosphere, geosphere, and biosphere with emphasis on the atmosphere and hydrosphere. Familiarizes students with human-environment interactions that are relevant to our lives.
Explores and analyzes the environment, bringing together the many physical factors that create a complete understanding of Earth system operations. Includes basic concepts and relationships between and among the atmosphere, hydrosphere, geosphere, and biosphere with emphasis on the geosphere and biosphere. Familiarizes students with human-environment interactions that are relevant to our lives.
Offers an interdisciplinary study of how the natural and social sciences combine to examine, debate, and solve environmental problems in our society. Fosters environmental awareness, stimulates discussion, and encourages critical analysis of environmental problems.
Offers an interdisciplinary study of a current topic in environmental application such as energy, water resources, land use or endangered species. Explores the integration of natural and social sciences in examining, debating, and solving specific environmental problems faced by society. Fosters critical analysis of complex issues by stimulating discussion and debate and raising awareness.
This course explores the interconnections among natural resources, energy, and global climate change. Topics include the extraction and origins of fossils fuels, carbon dioxide emissions, long-term and short term climate variability, and alternative energy resources such as geothermal, hydroelectric, nuclear, solar, tidal, wave, and wind. Intended for environmental studies students, but also open to other university students interested in issues of energy and climate change.
This course addresses environmental law, policy and environmental impact analysis. Methods by which society appraises the likely effects of a proposed action on the environment, alternatives to the proposal, and appropriate measures to be adopted to protect culture and natural systems are investigated. The course addresses the preparation of Environmental Assessments (EAs) and Environmental Impacts Statements (EIS) under the guidelines of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). Federal environmental laws and international protocols are reviewed in the context of air, water, energy, toxic substances, waste management, and genetically engineered organisms.
An interdisciplinary study integrating theory, methods and applications in modern biodiversity sciences, covering the origins of biodiversity, ecological and biogeographic distributions of diversity, major adaptive radiations, episodes of mass extinctions, with a focus on the problem of modern extinctions. Includes descriptions of biodiversity within geneological and ecological hierarchies, phylogenetic theory and lineage analysis, a broad overview describing the results of modern systematics research and bioinformatics. Applications of biodiversity sciences in biological inventory, monitoring, and global biodiversity assessment are explored through case studies and practical examples drawn from recent literature.
This course addresses the topic of sustainable development focusing on economics at the interface of states, nations and the global economy. Students will complete a comprehensive study of the emerging field of ecological economics and contrast/compare to the neoclassical economic model of development. Students will conduct an in-depth analysis of a developing region, state and/or nation in terms of economic development based on population, agriculture, industrial development, and natural capital (ecosystem goods and services). Students will be required to propose policy options for sustainable development within a region, state and/or nation and provide a means by which development will move towards global sustainability.
Critically examines sustainability as it has been defined and debated globally and locally, applying the concept to natural resources (e.g., forests and water), places (e.g., universities and communities), and decisions (e.g., governance and markets). Considers the interrelatedness of ecological, social and economic systems and various efforts to balance their needs through interdisciplinary research, public policies, market mechanisms, global initiatives and grassroots activism.
This course addresses the topic of valuation of goods and services provided by ecosystems that are critical to society. Students will complete a comprehensive review of economic non-market valuation techniques applied to assess the value of natural systems not often captured in markets. Students will conduct an in-depth analysis considering market and non-market values of an environmental resource and propose policy options for a decision on the optimal use of the natural resource.
This course teaches environmental simulation modeling and the application of computer model results to real world problems in environmental studies. Computer-driven data analysis and modeling have become critical to the understanding and resolution of environmental problems and issues of sustainability and natural resource management. This course teaches computer simulation modeling skills and environmental system dynamics through an applied approach requiring the conceptualization, construction and creation of dynamic computer simulation models to aid in the resolution of environmental problems.
Students plan a research project, write a project proposal, conduct research, write a final report, and make an oral presentation to faculty and peers in a single term.
Introduces accepted students to the senior capstone honors process. Requires a written proposal outlining the project goals, tasks, timeline, and budget.
Supports students completing their senior project. Assures communication with cooperating entities and emphasizes data collection, findings, and initial analyses. Drafts outline of final report.
Supports preparation and completion of final written and oral report. Emphasizes data analyses and critical thinking on conclusions and recommendations.
Covers sedimentary and metamorphic rocks, shoreline processes, geologic time, energy and mineral resources, earthquakes, crustal deformation, and plate tectonics. Familiarizes students with various aspects of Earth's physical environment. Offers a description, analysis, and interpretation of geologic structures and Earth surface processes from topographic maps, aerial photographs, and experimentation.
Introduces hydrologic science, including the hydrologic cycle, the drainage basin concept, storage and residence time, precipitation, evapotranspiration, stream hydrology, and water resource management.
Explores and synthesizes the interrelationships between biological, chemical, physical, and sociological environments as viewed from the physical aspects of Earth systems. The fundamental concept involves an understanding of the physical environment, the natural controls placed on it, and its influence on biologic systems, including humans. A companion concept involves the effect of human interactions on the physical environment and subsequent repercussions.
Offers an introduction to pedology and field techniques in describing soils. Develops a quantitative and qualitative understanding of morphology, origin, chemistry, and classification of soils. Topics include weathering, mineral and organic constituents of soil, nutrient cycling, soil erosion and contamination, biological activity in soils, and agriculture. Explores issues related to the environment and land use planning with respect to soils.
Introduces the skills and methods used in observing and interpreting geographical environments. Employs fieldwork, aerial photographs, maps, and basic data to examine the physical and cultural elements of the Rogue Valley from 1852 to the present.
Examines contemporary global issues and investigates the roles played by cultural values, technologies, infrastructure, and sociopolitical organizations as intermediaries between human population growth, poverty, and environmental degradation. Provides the conceptual tools to formulate questions about how human societies choose to invest wealth in population growth, consumption, economic growth, or environmental preservation. Term projects require students to identify a significant and specific case relating population growth to economic development and environmental degradation and to recommend action goals.
Explores the evolution of Western environmental perceptions from classical times to present. Emphasizes environmental movements in the U.S., the forces behind environmental crisis, and the responses of society and its institutions.
Applies land use planning history and legal foundations as the framework for exploring problems in land use planning, development, and public policy formulation. Pays particular attention to Oregon's land use planning legislation and its regional implementations.
Provides opportunities for in-depth exploration of contemporary land use planning issues. Students gain insight into the planning philosophies underlying the issues and the technical aspects of planning through participation in community planning efforts such as mapping, surveys, and inventories in the Rogue Valley.
Investigates the physical mechanisms that control the spatial aspects of global and regional climates. Develops a qualitative and quantitative knowledge of the Earth's atmosphere system through an understanding of spatial variations in heat, moisture, and the motion of the atmosphere. Applies these concepts to a wide range of issues in climate, human activities, and the environment. Discusses human consequences, including natural vegetation assemblages, agriculture and fisheries, health and comfort, building and landscape design, industrial influences, and issues of climate change.
Examines principles of community health and safety, with emphases on the safety of water supplies, sewage disposal, and other environmental practices affecting the health of a community. Includes study of public health agencies, selected volunteer nonprofit health agencies, and opportunities for practical experience in the community.
Examines the historical relationship between the earth and human societies in Europe, Africa, Asia, and the Americas from earliest times to the present. Combines lecture, video presentations, and discussion.
Explores the planning and management of adventure tourism with a special emphasis on the natural environment and impacts, including economic and sociocultural aspects.
Provides the OAL student with a historical perspective of the natural, cultural, and legal events that have shaped the region's national forests and wild areas. Explores the literary legacy, geography, and current environmental issues affecting the use and protection of forest lands in the Pacific Northwest.
Introduction to basic properties of building materials (e.g., strength, heat transport), concepts of design (e.g., day-lighting, passive solar) and technologies (e.g., photovoltaics, LED lighting). Critical analysis of life cycle, performance characteristics, environmental impact and sustainability of conventional and new approaches.
Offers a systematic study of current energy-related issues, with an emphasis on the environmental impact of energy production and use. Discussions focus on resource limitations, social values, economics, and the politics accompanying energy issues. Offers an introductory-level review of the physics of energy and analysis methods.
Explores the soft energy paths that have emerged from the general awareness of resource limitations. Topics include alternative energy options available to a modern society at both global and local levels and the many facets of solar energy technology, wind, biomass, hydrogen, and energy efficiency.
Explores major energy issues and the processes and players involved in developing and implementing energy policy. Discussion includes technological and social aspects of associated economic, environmental, and equity tradeoffs. Issues such as global change, electricity industry restructuring, and the hydrogen economy are investigated, as well as energy markets and energy systems planning. Case studies are used to focus the discussions on real situations.
Examines the capacity of the legal system to satisfactorily resolve environmental and other disputes that require decision-makers to reach conclusions based on scientific evidence. Tracks a lawsuit or administrative proceeding involving environmental issues from beginning to end, exploring the difficulties scientists, lawyers, and juries face when trying to make sense of one another.
Explores the historical, conceptual, and normative foundations of public resource administration.
Examines the major techniques and strategies used by policy-makers and regulators to protect and enhance the environment. Pays special attention to the economic, social, and political barriers that prevent effective regulation of the environment.
Explores the theories, empirical research, and methodology of environmental psychology. Discusses environmental perception; the effects of noise, temperature, air pollution, and wind on behavior; personal space; territoriality; crowding; urban problems; leisure; recreation; and environmental activism.
Examines the relationship between past and present human societies and forest ecosystems. Explores how local and global political, economic, and cultural factors influence changing forest-use patterns in the Pacific Northwest. Pays particular attention to ways of achieving forest sustainability.
Examines the relationship between the human social institutions we create and the biophysical environments in which we live. Topics may include the culture of nature, population and consumption, political economy of environmental problems, social construction of environmental problems, evolution of environmental activism, public attitudes toward the environment, collaborative and community-based resource management, and environmental problem solving.
The SOU Department of Environmental Studies offers a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Studies that prepares students for a wide variety of employment in such organizations as governmental agencies, industry, non-profits and environmental consulting firms. The Department of Environmental Studies prepares students for graduate and professional schools in areas such as environmental policy and management, law, public policy, and environmental science. A Bachelor of Science in Environmental Studies integrates natural sciences and social sciences to address complex environmental issues. The ES faculty has expertise in multiple disciplines including biology, geology, sociology, economics, geography, and anthropology.
Concentrations within the Bachelor of Science in Environmental Studies Degree Program:
Takes advantage of our unique environmental setting in southern Oregon to emphasize study in climatology, geological hazards, and water resources. Our nationally recognized geology and hydrogeology summer field courses serves as the undergraduate capstone for students in the Earth Science Concentration. Faculty members in the Earth Science Concentration offer a close and unique mentor-student relationship defined by a high level of contact and practical research experience. Faculty members and students are involved in key research projects that focus on climate change, slope stability, and water resources tied to local, state, and federal agencies. Students in the Earth Science Concentration working on applied projects have the opportunity to present their research at professional conferences.
Fosters ecological investigation of populations, communities and ecosystems while promoting the conservation and management of biodiversity. Students study the dynamics of natural systems such as forests, fisheries, watersheds and wetlands in an effort to understand ecological structure and function and to maintain valuable ecosystem goods and services. Students investigate the complexity of how society values and manages ecosystems in an effort to promote effective natural resource management.
Provides students with a framework of study for this integrated branch of public policy which seeks to order and regulate land use. Land Use Planning encompasses various disciplines in a systematic assessment of physical, social and economic factors in order to assist in the development of efficient and ethical options for land users. The way in which society plans for land uses is fundamental to sustainability. Students study the historic and cultural roots of land use planning and survey the legal foundations of planning in the U.S. while developing a set of skills to apply the methodology of the land use planner. Students explore the issues and techniques of planning through participation in community planning efforts. Students interested in careers in land use planning in the government, private sector or non-profit public advocacy group, public administration, environmental law, or real estate and development would benefit from courses in the Land Use Planning Concentration.
Promotes study of the complex interactions between society and ecosystems. Sustainable development involves an increase in societal well-being over time through effective utilization of valuable natural systems. The Sustainability and Policy Concentration fosters the study of how society values and utilizes critical ecosystem goods and services. Key areas of focus in this concentration include in-depth analysis of sustainable communities, environmental economics and policy, and green business.
This is an interdisciplinary program designed to prepare individuals for leadership roles in organizations committed to sustainable practices. The program is designed to give students a strong foundational understanding in the three E's of sustainability: Economy, Environment, and Equity, also known as the Triple Bottom Line. It provides students with a broad understanding of all of the major applied areas of sustainable organizational leadership including alternative transportation, waste reduction, renewable energy, green building, corporate social responsibility, fair trade, localization, community finance, and other emerging sustainable business practices.