The Bachelor of Arts in Environmental Studies is organized around a "spine" of three core courses designed to introduce students to the essential aspects of being effective environmental actors.

The sequence also serves to generate a self-aware cohort of environmental students in each class year. Detailed descriptions of the three core courses follow.


ENST 201: Environmental Problems/Sustainable Futures (usually a sophomore course)

General Course Objectives: Students critically examine complex environmental challenges in three ways: (1) as technical/scientific problems, (2) as social/political problems, and (3) in terms of ethical solutions/responses.

Description of Subject Matter: This is the first course within Environmental Studies' core curriculum. It combines a focus on critical thinking skills with an introduction to key concepts and issues within a multi-disciplinary field of study. The first part of the course focuses on understanding and defining complex environmental problems related to food/water, energy, and climate change. The second part of the course centers on the social/political dimensions of human efforts to address these three challenges. The third part of the course turns attention to how societies might construct ethical solutions/responses to environmental problems.

Method of Instruction and Study: Students will complete a series of core readings, applied exercises, and short analytical papers as a means of actively engaging in learning. These activities will be applied to in class discussions, small group projects, and related tasks.

ENST 302: Environmental Research Design (usually a junior course)

General Course Objectives: The course asks the question "Where does environmental knowledge come from?". toward the goal of enabling students to create their own environmental knowledge through research, and to understand the presentation of knowledge in the writing of others.

Description of Subject Matter: The course starts with the basic epistemological question of how we know what we know, it shifts to understanding what range of questions are asked within environmental research and applications, it discusses the design of research projects that properly address such questions, then it focuses on specific research tools like GIS, statistics, photography, description, ethnography,surveys, and database analysis.

Method of Instruction and Study: Student exercises dominate the course, focused each semester on specific environmental problems such as environmental health or land-use change. Instructional Materials and Sources: On-line and library sources will dominate; course relies on intensive computer use.

ENST 411: Environmental Community Projects (usually a senior course)

General Course Objectives: ENST 411 is designed as a 'clinic' course, focused on methods for solving real community problems. Such a course is based on several premises: 1. Student learning is strongest in applied situations. 2. Advanced-level student learning in environmental fields is properly team-based. 3. Environmental skills are interdisciplinary skills. 4. The local community provides abundant examples of environmental problems for such a class to address. 5. Student course work can reasonably return knowledge and perspectives to local decision-makers - that is, this is an excellent opportunity for service learning.

Description of Subject Matter: The class will work on a problem selected prior to the beginning of the semester. Such problems can include 1. a specific environmental issue - a siting controversy or a known pollution problem. 2. a landuse design issue - the Bucknell river access, an open-space plan for a local community, a landuse plan for a property being considered or acquired by the local conservancy group. 3. a recognized policy need - a comprehensive organic waste management plan for a community or university, or a proposed forest users' fee. 4. a recognized information need - background research for an eco-tourist grant, for a recreational brochure, or for an environmental education module. Solutions to these problems will be sought within the class, and reported to the stakeholders at the end of the semester.

Method of Instruction and Study: Group work on aspects of the project will be coordinated during one 3-hour class a week. That schedule also permits site visits and meetings with stakeholders from off campus.

Instructional Materials and Sources: Field and census data, GIS, surveys, archival research, theories from literature, etc., as appropriate to the topic. Local topics might include: a comprehensive shared-use plan for a section of the Bald Eagle State Forest, a plan for the renovation of Bucknell riverfront, an environmental impact statement for the new Lewisburg floodplain maps, a study of the amount and nature of sprawl in Union County, a community survey of the nature and impact of Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations in the local valley. See samples from recent projects.


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