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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 these interdisciplinary objectives, the Environmental Science program has a two-tiered structure: a core set of courses, and upper level electives from which the student can choose to emphasize the natural or social sciences. At Willamette, the Environmental and Earth Science departmental 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 biological and physical features. Geology is the study of the Earth -- its chemical and mineralogical composition, the structure of its materials and the current and past processes that have acted upon it. Both disciplines are deeply concerned with the ties between the nature of our physical environment and the quality of human life. Four departments contribute additional faculty and courses to our program.

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.

Requirements for the Environmental Science Major (14 Credits)

Common Core (9 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)
  • ERTH 333 (QA) Geographic Information Systems (1)
  • POLI 210 (US) American Politics (1)*
  • POLI 304 (W; AR) Politics of 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 (1 credits)

  • ENVR 495 (W) Senior Seminar in Environmental Science: Part I (.5)
  • ENVR 496 (W) Senior Seminar in Environmental Science: Part II (.5)

Emphasis (4 credits)

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

Social Science Emphasis

Natural 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)
  • POLI 210 (US) American Politics (1)* or
  • ECON 122 (US) Principles of Microeconomics
  • POLI 304 (W; AR) Politics of Environmental Ethics (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, Associate Professor of Geography and Environmental Science, Chair
  • Monique Bourque, Director of Student Academic Grants and Awards
  • Joe Bowersox, Associate Professor of Politics
  • Kimberlee Chambers, Assistant Professor of Geography and Environmental Science 
  • David Craig, Assistant Professor of Biology
  • Peter Eilers, Professor of Geography and Environmental Science
  • David Goodney, Professor of Chemistry
  • Donald H. Negri, Professor of Economics
  • Scott Pike, Assistant Professor of Geology and Environmental Science
  • Nathan Sivers Boyce, Assistant Professor of 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, Pike

ENVR 326 (TH) Environmental History (1)

This course will give students a general introduction to environmental history, using a wide range of sources including history textbooks, popular writing about nature and the environment, nature documentaries, and the landscape. The course will challenge students to think critically about the study of history, how history articulates ongoing human efforts to understand and control nature, and how history investigates current debates about the environment. Topics include: deforestation and the development of the agrarian landscape in Western Europe; European colonization and the effect of European contact on native populations in North America; industrialization and the use and development of natural resources; the definitions, planning, and management of public spaces such as national parks, game lands and zoos; establishment of environmental standards; the emergence of conservation ecology; "green" politics and ecofeminism.

Mode of Inquiry: Thinking Historically; Environmental Cluster

Prerequisite: Closed to freshmen

  • Offering: Spring
  • Instructor: Bourque

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 345 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. Course includes a mandatory pre-semester field trip in mid-August.

Prerequisite: POLI 330 or POLI 341 and ENVR 333 or BIOL 255

  • Offering: Alternate Fall
  • 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 (W) Senior Seminar in Environmental Science: Part I (.5)

Senior seminar: Part I begins the capstone experience for ES majors. Students design and begin to conduct their senior thesis, an original piece of interdisciplinary research related to human impact on nature. The thesis will demonstrate a familiarity with the literature and methods of analysis both within and across the relevant disciplines. In Part I students focus on proposal formulation, research design, and data collection, refining their work through peer and instructor review. Seminar discussion of relevant texts may be used to consider the complexities of the discipline of environmental science.

Mode of Inquiry: Writing Centered

Prerequisite: Senior majoring in Environmental Science

  • Offering: Fall
  • Instructor: Staff

ENVR 496 (W) Senior Seminar in Environmental Science: Part II (.5)

Senior seminar: Part II completes the capstone experience for ES majors. Students continue work on their thesis, focusing on data collection, analysis, and interpretation, refining their work through peer and instructor review. The final products of the seminar are the written thesis and a pubic presentation. Seminar discussion of relevant texts may be used to consider the complexities of the discipline of environmental science.

General Education Requirement Fulfillment: Writing centered

Prerequisite: Senior majoring in Environmental Science; ENVR 495 (W)

  • Offering: Spring
  • Instructor: Staff

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: Pike

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: Eilers

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: Environmental Science major or consent of instructor.

  • Offering: Every semester
  • Instructor: Eilers

ERTH 350 (W) 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.

General Education Requirement Fulfillment: Writing Centered

Prerequisite: ERTH 110 

  • Offering: Spring
  • Instructor: Pike

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: Arabas, Eilers, Pike