In the Curriculum

Strong Environmental Studies Program

The Environmental Studies Program has taken a liberal arts approach to the Environmental Studies major, focusing not only on the natural and physical sciences, but also the environmental aspects of policy, economics, philosophy, literature, and psychology to name a few. By taking this approach, many of the departments at Randolph College have added environmental courses, helping thread environmental awareness throughout the curriculum.

Environmentally Focused Classes

Introduction to Environmental Studies I: Natural Science (EVST 101)
A broad, natural science-based introduction to many of today's most pressing and controversial issues regarding the environment, including energy and resource use, loss of biodiversity, population growth, air and water pollution, human-induced climate change, and sustainable development. The course combines informational lectures, readings, and media with in-class activities, discussion, and field trips designed to highlight the diversity of environment-related problems and views.

Environmental Science Methods (EVST 205)
This course provides students with a basic understanding of measurement and analysis techniques for soils, rocks, air, and water. The course is focused on physical methods such as geophysical, geotechnical, and hydrological, but a few geochemical and biological techniques are discussed as well.

Environmental Literature (EVST 305)
In this course students will bridge the gap between science and literature through the study of great writing, which explores humanity's relationship with its environment. The focus will be on the modern evolution of environmental literature beginning with Thoreau and ending with such contemporary writers as David Quammen and Terry Tempest Williams. Multiple genres-poetry, fiction, and non-fiction-will be considered. The course will look at the individual's response to the natural world as well as society's effects on the environment. Thus the range of study will move from the personal to the local to the global.

Climate Dynamics (EVST 325)
In this course students examine the structure and dynamics of the earth's atmosphere, ocean, and biosphere, and how they interact to drive changes in weather and climate. Topics include weather systems and forecasting, general circulation of the ocean and the atmosphere, paleoclimatological methods, historical climate change, natural climate forcing, regional climate variability such as the El Nino-Southern Oscillation, anthropogenic climate change, and mathematical modeling of climate.

Eyes on the Sky (IST 1071)
Sky watchers know the view above our heads is filled with extraordinary things: rainbows and double rainbows, halos, aurora, and clouds of astounding variety. Students will learn the meteorology and physics behind a variety of atmospheric phenomena, explore weather lore that has developed around them, and keep a sky journal to better understand their underlying causes.

Energy (IST 1072)
In physical science, “energy is always conserved,” but in society, we talk about “conserving energy.” What is energy? What is an “energy crisis”? How is energy produced and used, and what changes are we poised to make?

Environmental Philosophy (PHIL 361)
An advanced study of ethical and aesthetic issues concerning the environment. Topics include attitudes toward nature; the moral standing of animals, plants, species, and eco-systems; the tension between environmental preservation and economic development; the right of property owners to exploit natural resources; and, the value of wilderness.

Environmental Writing (EVST 306)
This is an advanced creative-nonfiction workshop for students interested both in writing and in using writing as a means of exploring the natural world. Over the semester, we will explore the various forms of and strategies for nature writing, and students may pursue both formal and informal assignments, ranging from personal narrative and memoir to green journalism and researched essays, striving with each piece for imaginative engagement, freshness, clarity, and insight. In addition to writing—a lot—we will study the logistics of publishing in the nature-writing field and read the works of authors such as Mary Austin, Rachel Carson, Loren Eiseley, and others.

Energy (IST 1072)
In physical science, “energy is always conserved,” but in society, we talk about “conserving energy.” What is energy? What is an “energy crisis”? How is energy produced and used, and what changes are we poised to make?

Earthquake Prediction (IST 1074)
Earthquake prediction has been and will continue to be a fascinating topic for scientists, politicians, and the public. This seminar has the purpose of improving students' understanding of the science of earthquake prediction, and its socio-economic impact.

Intro to Environmental Studies II: Social Science and Humanities (EVST 102)
This course considers environmental issues through the perspectives of the social sciences and humanities. Through such lenses as history, literature, philosophy, religion, art, psychology, economics, politics, etc., students explore ways of thinking about the interrelationship of nature and culture and examine how human systems-from language to landscaping to law-impact the natural world.

Quantitative Aspects of Global Environmental Problems (EVST 201)
An interdisciplinary, quantitative approach to understanding environmental problems. Students will learn practical applications of methods used to assess environmental problems including estimation techniques and box modeling. Topics include transport and fate of persistent pollutants, impact of human activities on climate, climate feedbacks, acid precipitation and other disruptions of biogeochemical cycles.

Environmental Policy (EVST 202)
Students will evaluate the policy options for addressing a variety of contemporary global, national, and local environmental problems. Topics include energy policy, clean air, clean water and water rights, nuclear safety, toxic contaminants, climate change, ozone depletion, endangered species and biodiversity, and sustainable development. Special attention will be given to the difficulty in translating scientific knowledge into workable policies, ecosystem valuation, and the challenge of policy-making in the face of risk, scientific uncertainty, and incomplete data.

Environmental Geophysics (EVST 376)

Environmental Chemistry (CHEM 225 & Lab)
An investigation of the chemical species and reactions that play important roles in natural and urban environments. Topics include atmospheric chemistry, ozone depletion, greenhouse gases, natural waters, alternative energies, and pollution from urban and agricultural sources.

Environmental Economics (ECON 220)

Environmental Psychology (PSYC 220)
This course explores the interaction of humans with the designed physical environment, and the relationships between architectural design and human behavior. Topics include environmental perception and cognition, personal space, privacy, territoriality, and crowding, as well as human responses to weather, climate and natural disasters. Emphasis is placed on theories of environment-behavior relationships and on applications of environmental psychology in architecture and urban planning, with particular focus on contributions of psychology to design of sustainable buildings and communities. There also is discussion of the effects of natural environments on humans and the role of human behavior in environmentally sustainability.


Additional environmentally focused classes are available here.