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Willamette University

900 State Street
Salem, Oregon 97301

503-370-6300 voice

Environmental and Earth Sciences View this department's website

The Environmental Science program seeks to encourage students to develop an appreciation of the importance to life and society of the natural and humanized environment in the past, present and future; an understanding of nature’s integrity, including both natural and human processes affecting environmental change; insight into basic causes of and possible solutions to important environmental problems; and skills for defining and furthering environmentally sound action. Attainment of these goals requires grounding in several disciplines as well as integrative study of environmental systems and environmental ethics and institutions. To accomplish the above interdisciplinary objectives, the Environmental Science program offers two emphases or tracks: The Environmental Science Track which requires greater depth in the natural sciences; and the Environmental Studies Track, or Policy Track, which offers greater depth in the social sciences. Six university departments contribute faculty and courses to this program and its two tracks.

Education in environmental science may provide direct career opportunities in government service or business (e.g., resource management, environmental impact assessment) and in public interest work. It is useful preparation, especially in combination with a second major, for possible careers in teaching, journalism, politics, and business, or for those who plan to enter graduate or professional school in fields such as environmental science, biology, geography, public policy, law, public health or other sciences. For Environmental Science majors considering graduate study, a minor or second major in one of the contributing disciplines is strongly recommended.

The student in environmental science at Willamette is well situated to pursue his or her studies. For field study, a great diversity of environments and land-use practices can be found within a short distance – everything from the Pacific Ocean to the Cascades, from wilderness to cities. As a state, Oregon has pioneered in many aspects of environmental management. The University’s location, just across the street from the Capitol and other government offices, facilitates practical learning and involvement.

Earth Science courses are designed to give the student an understanding of earth processes, resources, and human-land relationships and patterns. While there is no major program in Earth Science, courses in this field make an important contribution to liberal arts education and to interdisciplinary major programs such as Environmental Science and International Studies. The Environmental and Earth Science Department offers a minor with emphasis upon geography or geology.

“Earth Science” is a general name for any of the various sciences – e.g., geography, geology, climatology, – that deal with the earth. At Willamette, the Earth Science offerings are concentrated in the fields of geography and geology. Geography is primarily concerned with explaining the spatial distribution of and relations among various features of the earth – human and cultural as well as physical features. Geology concerns itself primarily with description, classification and analysis of the earth’s physical and chemical characteristics and with the history of the earth and its life forms. Both disciplines are deeply concerned with the ties between the nature of our physical environment and the quality of human life.

Topics in Earth Science courses range from plate tectonics to international oil problems, global demographic changes, and vegetation and soil patterns.

Requirements for the Environmental Science Major (14 Credits)

Common Core (8 credits)

  • BIOL 110 (NW) Principles of Biology (1) or
  • BIOL 125 Ecology, Evolution and Diversity (1) or
  • BIOL 210 (W; NW) Biodiversity: Discovering Life (1)
  • CHEM 115 (NW) Introductory Chemistry I (1)
  • ECON 122 (US) Principles of Microeconomics (1)
  • ENVR 105 Introduction to Environmental Science (1)
  • ERTH 110 (NW) Physical Geology (1)
  • ERTH 112 (NW) Physical Geography (1)
  • POLI 210 (US) American Politics (1)*
  • POLI 304 (W; AR) Politics of Environmental Ethics (1)
  • ENVR 320 Environmental Ethics (1)

* A section of this course emphasizing environmental issues is recommended; please see a faculty member in the Environmental Science Department for additional information.

Senior Year Experience (2 credits)

  • ENVR 495 (W) Senior Seminar in Environmental Science (1) (may also be offered as:)
  • ENVR 445 Forest Ecology and Policy (Cross listed with POLI 345) (1) or
  • IDS 347 Chemistry, Economics and the Environment (1)
  • ENVR 496 (W) Senior Seminar in Environmental Science (1)

Emphasis (4 credits)

Students will take 3 from one group and 1 from the other, depending on their emphasis.

Social Science Emphasis

  • ECON 345 Environmental Economics (1)
  • ENVR 326 (TH) Environmental History (1)
  • ENVR 327 (W) Water Resources (1)
  • ERTH 333 (QA) Geographic Information Systems.*
  • POLI 341 Environmental Policymaking: Politics and Process (1)

Natural Science Emphasis

*ERTH 333 is an elective in each emphasis, but may not be used as the social science elective by students following a natural science emphasis or as a natural science elective by students following a social science emphasis.

Requirements for the Environmental Science Minor (6 Credits)

  • BIOL 110 (NW) Principles of Biology (1) or
  • BIOL 125 Ecology, Evolution and Diversity (1) or
  • BIOL 210 (W; NW) Biodiversity: Discovering Life (1) or
  • CHEM 115 (NW) Introductory Chemistry I (1)
  • ENVR 105 Introduction to Environmental Science (1)
  • ENVR 320 Environmental Ethics (1) or
  • POLI 210 (US) American Politics (1)*
  • ECON 122 (US) Principles of Microeconomics
  • POLI 304 (W; AR) Politics of Environmental Ethics (1)
  • ECON 122 Principles of Microeconomics (1)
  • 2 electives from the social science and/or natural science groups

* A section of this course emphasizing environmental issues is recommended; please see a faculty member in the Environmental Science Department for additional information.

Requirements For The Geography Minor (5 Credits)

Core courses

One from the following: (1)

Faculty

  • Karen Arabas, Assistant Professor, Geography and Environmental Science, Chair
  • Peter Eilers, Geography and Environmental Science
  • Joe W. Bowersox, Professor, Politics
  • Carol Doolittle, Professor, Sociology
  • David Goodney, Professor, Chemistry
  • Gilbert LaFreniere, Professor, Geology and Environmental Science
  • Donald H. Negri, Associate Professor, Economics

Course Listings

ENVR 105 Introduction to Environmental Science (1)

An introduction to environmental science designed to promote an understanding of the effect of human actions on the natural world. Topics include human impacts on atmospheric, aquatic, and terrestrial systems; human population dynamics; environmental perceptions and ethics; and the concept of sustainability. Lectures, discussion, films, readings.

  • Offering: Every semester
  • Instructor: Arabas, Eilers

ENVR 320 Environmental Ethics (1)

The course focuses upon the historical and philosophical roots of our present environmental and resource dilemmas. The contemporary environmental crisis is considered as a particular manifestation of a cultural crisis which afflicts Western civilization and its imitators. Central issues include: comparison of environmental attitudes in advanced cultures; the environmental significance of Western interpretations of history; evaluation of the idea of progress as the ruling philosophy of history of the modern West; the sociocultural impacts of scientific and technological development; and an account of Western society’s continuing search for the good life and for means of inducing altruistic behavior.

Prerequisite: Junior or Senior standing

  • Offering: Spring
  • Instructor: LaFreniere

ENVR 326 (TH) Environmental History (1)

This course is designed as a chronological survey of human nature interrelationships in Western traditions. Following an introductory unit on biomes and the origins of human culture and civilization, human impacts on nature (and vice versa) in the Mediterranean basin will be traced from Mesopotamia and Egypt to Greece and Rome. A unit on Western Europe focuses on deforestation, development of the agrarian landscape and European colonization after the 15th century. The focus of the course then shifts to lectures on the ecological history of Europeans in North America and discussion of the intellectual history of ecological ideas since the eighteenth century. The course involves lectures, weekly discussions and research papers or presentations.

Mode of Inquiry: Thinking Historically; Environmental Cluster

Prerequisite: Recommended prerequisites: BIOL 110 and HIST 115 or 116 or equivalent

  • Offering: Fall
  • Instructor: LaFreniere

ENVR 327 (W) Water Resources (1)

This course examines water resources over short- and long-time perspectives and over small and large geographic areas. Emphasis is placed on evaluating water resources from a multidisciplinary perspective. Topics include: surface and groundwater hydrology; water quality; and the legal, political and environmental aspects of water use.

General Education Requirement Fulfillment: Writing centered

Prerequisite: Consent of instructor

  • Offering: Spring
  • Instructor: Arabas

ENVR 333 Biogeography (1)

This course provides an introduction to the study of plant and animal distributions, both past and present. This is a broad field which overlaps several other disciplines, including biology, geography and geology. The study of plant distributions will be emphasized and approached from historical, cultural and ecological perspectives. Applications of biogeographic knowledge and theory to conservation problems will also be discussed. The lab component will address quantitative aspects of biogeographic research.

Prerequisite: ERTH 112, BIOL 125, or consent of instructor

  • Offering: Fall
  • Instructor: Arabas

ENVR 445 Forest Ecology and Policy (1)

[Crosslisted with POLI 345]

A case study approach to forests integrating forest policy and ecology. Using class and field instruction, students will design research projects that will emphasize the science and social science issues related to forest management. It is open only to seniors in Environmental Science or juniors or seniors in Politics.

Prerequisite: POLI 210, BIOL 130 (or equivalent), and ERTH 112 or consent of instructor

  • Offering: Alternate falls
  • Instructor: Arabas, Bowersox

ENVR 494 Environmental Science Internship (1)

Student participation off-campus with an agency, group or individual working on some aspect of the environment. The purpose is for the student to gain practical knowledge through involvement and for the student to provide research and other work capabilities; 10-12 hours per week.

  • Offering: Fall
  • Instructor: Staff

ENVR 495 Environmental Science Integration Seminar (1)

This course is the first semester in a two-semester senior year experience. Students in the science and policy tracks of the Environmental Science major will collaborate on research projects emphasizing the science and social scientific aspects of a chosen environmental issue. Specific topics will vary from year to year, but might include global warming, acid rain, forests, energy, biological diversity, ozone depletion, and sustainability.

Prerequisite: Priority given to senior Environmental Science majors. Other students may be admitted by permission of instructor

  • Offering: Fall
  • Instructor: Staff

ENVR 496 (W) Senior Seminar in Environmental Science (1)

Individually or in small groups, students design and conduct a research project which includes: proposal formulation, development of research methodology, information analysis, draft and final report preparation and oral presentation. Seminar discussion, outside resource persons and examination of specific problems of the environment are used to advance research projects.

General Education Requirement Fulfillment: Writing centered

Prerequisite: Senior majoring in Environmental Science

  • Offering: Spring
  • Instructor: Arabas, Bowersox, Eilers, LaFreniere

ERTH 110 (NW) Physical Geology (1)

An introduction to internal and external earth processes within the framework of plate tectonic theory. Laboratory work emphasizes identification of common rocks and minerals and interpretation of topographic maps, aerial photographs and geologic maps. Prerequisite for Environmental Geology and Historical Geology.

Mode of Inquiry: Understanding the Natural World

  • Offering: Fall
  • Instructor: LaFreniere

ERTH 112 (NW) Physical Geography (1)

An integrated study of the major components of the physical environment - landforms, climate, natural vegetation and soils - in the light of their significance to mankind. Laboratory experience includes fieldwork and emphasizes identification, measurement, data analysis and presentation of results.

Mode of Inquiry: Understanding the Natural World

  • Offering: Spring
  • Instructor: Eilers

ERTH 230 World Geography (1)

Survey of major patterns of physical features, culture and human - land relations by region in today's world. Examples show present and impending resource, environmental, social and political problems and explore basic solutions. Methods include lectures, films, student discussions and presentations, and text and outside readings.

  • Offering: Fall
  • Instructor: Arabas, Eilers

ERTH 231 Historical Geology (1)

An introduction to the detailed geologic record, emphasizing the geology of the Western Cordillera. Topics include the history of geologic thought, a survey of geologic history from Precambrian to Holocene and the paleontological evidence for organic evolution. Lectures are complemented by geologic map interpretation in the laboratory and field trips to the Coast Range, Cascades and Siskiyous.

Prerequisite: ERTH 110

  • Offering: Alternate years
  • Instructor: LaFreniere

ERTH 331 Geography of Europe (1)

This course is designed to provide basic knowledge of the physical and cultural geography of Europe. The course begins with a survey of systematic themes, including historical, political, economic and social geography, physiography, climates, agriculture, resources, industry, settlement, demography and transportation. Study of the regions of Europe, including the nations of the former Soviet Union, follows. Important present-day issues are discussed in connection with relevant regions.

  • Offering: Alternate years
  • Instructor: Eilers

ERTH 332 Geography of the Pacific States (1)

A study of the physical and cultural elements of the Pacific States with special reference to Oregon. Topics for consideration include landforms, soils, vegetation, climate, resource development, land use, urbanization and current problems. Methods include lectures, discussions, readings, student presentations and field trips.

  • Offering: Alternate years
  • Instructor: Eilers

ERTH 333 (QA) Geographic Information Systems (1)

A comprehensive approach to cartography and spatial analysis, including the use of the global positioning system, computer-aided mapping and geographic information systems. Lecture, field and laboratory experience with an emphasis on class and individual projects.

General Education Requirement Fulfillment: Quantitative and Analytical Reasoning

Prerequisite: ERTH 112

  • Offering: Fall
  • Instructor: Eilers

ERTH 350 Environmental Geology (1)

This course applies principles and techniques learned in physical geology to such geologic hazards as vulcanism, seismicity, erosion, mass wasting and flooding and to mineral, fossil fuel and water resource development and their related environmental impacts. Laboratory required.

Prerequisite: ERTH 110

  • Offering: Alternate years
  • Instructor: LaFreniere

ERTH 490 Independent Study in Geography and Geology (.5 or 1)

Study of a specific aspect of geography or of a geographical problem, individually or in a group. May be taken for .5 or 1 credit

Prerequisite: Consent of instructor

  • Offering: On demand
  • Instructor: Eilers, LaFreniere