The Environment and Sustainability Program focuses on the interactions of humans and the natural environment. Specifically, the Program studies the structure and function of natural systems, examines how social, political, and economic activity impacts those systems, and experiments with resilient solutions to unsustainable human impacts.
Goals of the Environment and Sustainability Program include:
- Applying the knowledge and methods of natural sciences to understand and analyze environmental problems and solutions.
- Implementing social science findings and frameworks to develop local, national, and global sustainable solutions.
- Using the insights of environmental history, literature, and ethics to inform current decision making.
- Developing interdisciplinary critical thinking, communication, and problem-solving skills to foster community and ecological resilience.
- Fostering leadership in sustainability, effective environmental citizenship, and career and advanced study opportunities in environmental fields.
Students have two options for a comprehensive major: a 62-credit Water Emphasis or the 57-credit Individualized Contract.
- Environment and Sustainability Comprehensive Major: Individualized Contract Emphasis
- Environment and Sustainability Comprehensive Major: Water Emphasis
- Environment and Sustainability Ecology Emphasis (with a 3+2 Master of Science in Ecology)
- Environment and Sustainability Major: Standard Program
- Environment and Sustainability Minor
- Environment and Sustainability Nature Writing Emphasis (with a 3+2 MFA in Creative Writing)
- Environmental Management Emphasis (with a 3+2 Master in Environmental Management)
Capstone Course Requirement
The following course in the Environment and Sustainability Major fulfills the capstone course requirement: Applied Sustainability.
Environment and Sustainability Courses
An interdisciplinary, historical analysis of the development of environmental problems, movements, and philosophies. Students apply historical lessons to critically examine sustainable solutions locally and globally. GT-SS2
Students develop communication skills through presentations and writing on a variety of environmental issues appropriate to a wide variety of audiences. Through environmental essays, writing for nonprofit websites, grant proposals, and other forms of environmental writing, students are introduced to a broad range of skills needed for effective communication. Focus throughout the course on the analysis of arguments and texts further develops students' analytical and communication skills. Prerequisite: ENVS 100; COM 202 is recommended.
A holistic inquiry into how humans might live the next chapter of our history, guided by the ecological principles of sustainability and resilience. Environmental problems and their possible solutions are analyzed critically and quantitatively; field experiences on campus and in the community involve students directly in the application of these principles. Themes include sustainable agriculture, green building, renewable energy, and conservation and restoration. Prerequisites: BIOL 130, BIOL 135, PHYS 125
An historical and contemporary investigation of U.S. environmental policies with an applied focus on the impact of national policy on the ecosystems and cultures of the American West. Reciprocally, this course traces how public lands agencies, social movements, historical land uses, and diverse cultures in the West shape U.S. environmental policy. Students combine analysis and discussion of major U.S. policies, prominent theories and issues, and student-led environmental service projects to better understand environmental challenges. Prerequisites: ENVS 100, ENVS 200 or COM 202, ECON 370.
A critical examination of key perspectives, economic and political processes, policy actors, and institutions involved in global environmental issues. Students analyze ecological, cultural, and social dimensions of international environmental concerns and governance as they have emerged in response to increased recognition of global environmental threats, globalization, and international contributions to understanding of these issues. The focus of the course encourages students to engage and evaluate texts within the broad policy discourse on globalization, justice, and the environment. Prerequisites: ENVS 100; ECON 201, ENVS 200 or SCI 202; junior standing or instructor approval.
Study of the history, politics and institutions related to water policy and administration with comparative reference to different regions of the United States and internationally. Attention is given to the industrial development of the East and the created water resources of the arid West as a way to understand changing social sentiments toward water and water policy. The course also examines water pollution laws and water management. Prerequisites: ENVS 100; ECON 201 or ENVS 200 or SCI 202; junior standing or instructor approval.
An advanced water science course specifically designed for students interested in water related environmental science and policy. Topics include the physical and chemical properties of natural fesh waters and the movement and reserviors of fresh water within the water cycle. The course includes several hands-on exercises and field experiences where students investigate and analyze natural waters in the Gunnison Basin. Prerequisites: GEOL 101; GEOL 105 and one of the following: CHEM 101 or CHEM 111
A three-day annual conference bringing students together with a variety of water users, managers, ranchers, environmentalists, regulators and others involved in water issues for presentations and discussion on matters ranging from specific municipal or water district projects to major basin-wide planning for the great rivers of the West to global issues of water use and protection. Topics vary from year to year. Prerequisite: ENVS 350 and ENVS 370, or instructor permission.
A field-work based study of local (Gunnison Basin) environmental problems. Numerous monitoring techniques are implemented based on principles of biology, chemistry, and geology. The emphasis is on collaborative and integrative group projects dealing directly with real-world environmental problems. Prerequisites: ENVS 301 and one of the following: ECON 216, MATH 213, or SOC 211.
A field-based, collaborative, problem-solving experience that addresses a current issue in environmental sustainability. Implementing frameworks such as resilient and systems thinking, students collect information, analyze results, write a report, publicly present their findings, and begin to implement solutions informed by their analysis. Students learn basic skills for transforming their ENVS education into compelling environmental professional career possibilities. Prerequisites: ENVS 350 and ENVS 390.
A seminar on the complexities of environmental issues from a philosophical perspective. The course also offers a survey of the evolution of environmental moral philosophy as well as in-depth analysis of major thinkers in the field. Students confront ethical concerns from both historical and personal perspectives, with an emphasis on the ability to critically evaluate and apply these perspectives to their work in environmental fields. Prerequisite: ENVS 301 and 350; or PHIL 335.
An overview of place-based natural history, current ecological research, and current environmental issues facing the region. Prerequisites: ENVS 100 and instructor permission.
This field course is designed to provide students with an introduction to important science and policy issues in selected watersheds throughout the world. Students receive an overview of place-based natural history, current ecological research, and current environmental issues and policy facing the region. Examples include the local and global effects of resource extraction, tourism, air and water pollution, land use changes, and global climate change. This is an expedition course (approximately 3 weeks) and is experiential in nature. Prerequisites: ENVS 100 and instructor permission.
An opportunity to apply skills and knowledge from course work to an employmentsetting. Prerequisite: approval from an Environmental Studies advisor and the Program Director.
An introduction to the MEM program, to bioregional and resilient approaches to environmental management, and to the environmental stakeholders, problems, solutions, and learning laboratories of the Gunnison Valley. Requires two-week residency in Gunnison during culmination of course.
Provides a rigorous and hands-on overview of the principles and methods of environmental science. Students gain practical experience with a range of laboratory, field, and analytical approaches, with a focus on current environmental research in the Gunnison Basin.Topics include water quality, riparian condition, rangeland monitoring, forest health, threatened and endangered species, air quality, conservation, and ecological restoration. Students develop skills in scientific literature searches, writing monitoring protocols, ensuring quality data collection, databasing, statistical analysis, interpretation of results, written and oral communication, and peer review. Prerequisites: ENVS 601.
Analysis of the key interactions between environmental policy and management, focusing on environmental decision-making within an array of policy contexts. Emphasis is on important federal policies such as the Clean Water Act and NEPA, with additional attention to relevant state and local policies. Prerequisites: ENVS 601
Course focuses on developing and managing environmental projects and organizations. Students develop a thorough understanding of integrative assessment, adaptive management, and triple bottom line strategies. Students apply these approaches to the development of professional skills such as organizational development, conflict management, and environmental communication. Prerequisites: ENVS 601
An overview of a range of quantitative analytical methods and statistical approaches essential to environmental management careers in both Integrative Land Management and Sustainable and Resilient Communities. Topics covered include descriptive and inferential statistics, databasing, geographic information systems, and graphic presentation of results. Course empowers students to organize, analyze, and graphically present environmental data. Prerequisite: ENVS 601.
An investigation of the science of climate change, with an emphasis on mitigation and adaptation strategies for careers in environmental management. Students will develop an understanding of the principles of atmospheric and earth sciences that form the scientific basis of climate change and survey the large body of evidence of anthropogenic warming. Topics include greenhouse gas emissions, climate forcings and feedbacks, observed and projected climate changes, effects on ecological and human systems, and the opportunities and challenges of a diverse suite of strategies for climate change mitigation and adaptation at the local, regional, and planetary scale. Prerequisite: ENVS 605.
An introduction to developing organizations at the nexus of economic, social, and natural systems, and to the key skills necessary to succeed in this complex and highly competitive environment. Course discusses competitively advantageous strategies and practices organizations adopt to grow revenues, cut costs, improve market share, enhance brands, and redesign products and processes toward positive environmental and social impacts. Course examples will include sustainable innovation, creativity, and entrepreneurship from around the world. Students learn to identify the best opportunities, generate innovative non-profit and for-profit business models, frame and reframe problems, produce creative solutions, and generate a culture of innovation, creativity, and entrepreneurship within an organization utilizing principles from a variety of thinking methods including systems, design, and group thinking. Prerequisites: ENVS 605; ENVS 608; ENVS 611
An exploration of how international governments, NGOs, and other entities join to move the world toward a more sustainable future. Addresses contemporary topics such as industrial ecology, international natural resource management, sustainable development, and other relevant areas of study. Students develop skills in accessing, assessing, and applying social, economic and environmental data and practices to global issues. Prerequisites: ENVS 605; ENVS 608; and ENVS 611.
An exploration of the current and traditional approaches to public land and resourcemanagement. A regional focus on the Western U.S. is integrated with comparativeexamples from other regions and countries to enhance and broaden student perspectives. Course examines the history and future management implications of public lands agencies and policies, such as the National Parks, National Forests, Bureau of Land Management, NEPA and multi-use mandates. Special focus will be given to the management skills necessary in leading public lands agencies on the regional level. Prerequisites: ENVS 605; ENVS 608; ENVS 611.
An examination of selected topics covering the content understanding, analytical skills, and management approaches vital to cultivating sustainable and resilient communities. Topics include subjects such as Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation, Sustainable Food Systems, Sustainable Energy Futures, Sustainable Economic Development, Movements in Community Resilience, and Frameworks in Sustainability. This course is repeatable, since students are required to take this course three times, as long as the topic changes. Prerequisites: ENVS 616 or ENVS 617.
An examination of selected topics covering the content understanding, analytical skills, and management approaches vital to environmental management. Topics will vary from semester to semester based on faculty interest and student need. This course is repeatable, as long as the topic changes. Prerequisites: ENVS 616 or ENVS 617 or ENVS 618.
An examination of selected topics covering the content understanding, analytical skills, and management approaches vital to cultivating sustainable and resilient communities. Topics include subjects such as Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation, Sustainable Food Systems, Sustainable Energy Futures, Sustainable Economic Development, Movements in Community Resilience, and Frameworks in Sustainability. This course is repeatable, since students are required to take this course three times, as long as the topic changes. Prerequisites: ENVS 617 or ENVS 618.
An introduction to the Master’s Project. Course examines environmental project design strategies, successful environmental solutions, and organizations/community stakeholder groups seeking environmental management assistance from MEM students in the Master’s Project. Students design, plan, and coordinate second year Master’s Project with faculty mentors and community stakeholders. Requires two-weeks residency in Gunnison during culmination of course. Prerequisites: MEM Core
Students design and apply a specific research and environmental management project to an active environmental organization, green business, land agency, or community stakeholder group. Requires students to develop a lens and goal for environmental management; identify a project that enables the student to manifest his/her environmental management goal; research global best practices for similar projects; complete the project over 10 months; write up, present, and defend the results for the faculty mentor and MEM community; and complete an environmental career portfolio. Course spans Fall (3 credits) and Spring (6 credits) of the second year, and requires 9 total hours. This is a repeatable course for variable credit. Prerequisites: ENVS 690.