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Environmental Studies Program

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Principal Course Distribution Requirement

Principal courses offer introductions to the breadth of disciplines in the College. They acquaint students with the subject matter in an area, with the types of questions that are asked about that subject matter, with the knowledge that has been developed and is now basic to the area, and with the methods and standards by which claims to truth are judged.

Students must complete courses in topical groups in three major divisions (humanities, natural sciences and mathematics, and social sciences). For the B.A., three courses are required from each division, with no more than one course from any topical group. The B.G.S. requires two courses from each division, with no more than one from any topical group. To fulfill the requirement, a course must be designated as a principal course according to the codes listed below.

These are the major divisions, their topical subgroups, and the codes that identify them:

Humanities

  • HT: Historical studies
  • HL: Literature and the arts
  • HR: Philosophy and religion

Natural Sciences and Mathematics

  • NB: Biological sciences
  • NE: Earth sciences
  • NM: Mathematical sciences
  • NP: Physical science

Social Sciences

  • SC: Culture and society
  • SI: Individual behavior
  • SF: Public affairs

No course may fulfill both a principal course distribution requirement and a non-Western culture or second-level mathematics course requirement. Laboratory science courses designated as principal courses may fulfill both the laboratory science requirement and one of the distribution requirements. No free-standing laboratory course may by itself fulfill either the laboratory science requirement or a principal course requirement. Students should begin taking principal courses early in their academic careers. An honors equivalent of a principal course may fulfill a principal course requirement.

View all approved principal course distribution courses »

Non-Western Culture Requirement

A non-Western culture course acquaints students with the culture, society, and values of a non-Western people, for example, from Asia, the Pacific Islands, the Middle East, or Africa. Students must complete one approved non-Western culture course.

One approved non-Western culture course is required. Occasionally courses with varying topics fulfill the non-Western culture course requirement. See the Schedule of Classes for details. These courses are coded NW.

View all approved non-Western culture courses »

Transfer and Earned Credit Course Codes

These codes are used to evaluate transfer credit and to determine which academic requirements a course meets.

  • H: Humanities
  • N: Natural Sciences and Mathematics
  • S: Social Sciences
  • W: World Civilization and Culture
  • U: Undesignated Elective Credit (course does not satisfy distribution requirement)

All Environmental Studies courses

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Nature is our oldest home and newest challenge. This course surveys the environmental history of the earth from the extinction of the dinosaurs to the present with a focus on the changing ecological role of humans. It analyzes cases of ecological stability, compares cultural attitudes toward nature, and asks why this ancient relationship seems so troubled. (Same as HIST 103.) LEC
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This interdisciplinary course and its laboratory (EVRN 141) survey the foundations of environmental understanding and the process of scientific discovery from perspectives that combine the principles and methodologies of the humanities, physical, life and social sciences. Key topics will include the history of environmental systems and life on earth, the discovery of biotic evolution, ecological change, and climate change. To be taken with EVRN 141. (Same as GEOG 140 and HIST 140.) LEC
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This laboratory applies the principles and methodologies of the humanities, physical, life and social sciences to earth systems and the development of environmental understanding using historical and present-day examples. To be taken with EVRN 140. (Same as GEOG 141 and HIST 141.) LAB
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This interdisciplinary course and its laboratory (EVRN 143) survey the history of humanity's relationship with the natural world over the long term from perspectives that combine the principles and methodologies of the humanities, physical, life and social sciences. Key topics will include the evolution of Homo sapiens and cultural systems; the development of hunter, gatherer, fisher, agricultural, and pastoral lifeways; the ecology of colonialism and industrial civilization, and the emergence of ideological and ethical perspectives on the relationship between nature and culture. To be taken with EVRN 143. (Same as GEOG 142 and HIST 142.) LEC
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This laboratory applies the principles and methodologies of the humanities, physical, life and social sciences to the humanity's engagement with the global environment using historical and present-day examples. To be taken with EVRN 142. (Same as GEOG 143 and HIST 143) LAB
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This course presents an overview of our understanding of environmental processes and issues. Topics include scientific principles, resource issues, pollution and global change, among others. This course gives students a rigorous understanding of interactions between humans and their environment and provides students with a scientific basis for making informed environmental decisions. (Same as GEOG 148.) LEC
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This course presents an overview of our understanding of environmental processes and issues. Topics include scientific principles, resource issues, pollution and global change, among others. This course gives students a rigorous understanding of interactions between humans and their environment and provides students with a scientific basis for making informed environmental decisions. An honors section of EVRN 148, designed for superior students. (Same as GEOG 149.) Prerequisite: Membership in the University Honors Program or approval of instructor required. LEC
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An introduction to geographic approaches to the study of the environment, emphasizing societal and cultural factors that influence human interaction with the biosphere, hydrosphere, lithosphere and atmosphere. The course involves analysis of a broad range of contemporary environmental issues from the local to global scales. (Same as GEOG 150.) LEC
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This course is designed for the study of special topics in Environmental Studies. Coursework must be arranged through the Office of Study Abroad. May be repeated for credit if content varies. LEC
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A survey of current methods of describing and modeling the function, structure, and productivity of natural and anthropogenically modified earth resource systems, along with a discussion of contemporary views of what constitutes a natural landscape. Fundamental natural science principles about the interplay among lithospheric, atmospheric, hydrospheric, and biospheric components of earth systems are emphasized. Uses of natural resources, including fossil fuels, minerals, and water, are described with attention to the earth's total energy budget. Human activities that affect preservation, conservation, and multiple uses of earth regions receive attention. Systems under stress through population and other contemporary forces serve as examples. (Same as GEOG 304.) LEC
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An historical and analytical study of the formulation, implementation, and consequences of environmental policy in the United States. Attention will be directed at relevant interest groups, issues specific to both rural and urban populations, relationships between national policies and international organizations concerned with environmental problems. Prerequisite: EVRN 148/GEOG 148; and EVRN 103/HIST 103, EVRN 347/HIST 347 or EVRN 150/GEOG 150. LEC
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An introduction to how the American legal process improves, transforms, and damages the natural environment. Emphasizes and compares shifting responsibilities of legal forces and institutions: judges and litigants, legislators and statutes, agencies and administrations, and citizens and regulated entities. Prerequisite: EVRN 148 and EVRN 103/HIST 103, EVRN 347/HIST347 or EVRN 150/GEOG 150. LEC
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This course focuses on the properties and processes of soils as they occur in their environment. The student is introduced to the nature of soil as it functions as a body; genesis of soils; properties of soil solids, especially colloids; soil chemical composition, properties, and reactions; interaction between solid, liquid, and gaseous components in soils; plant-soil-water relationships; biological interactions with soil; classification of soils; and the distribution of soils on the landscape. Not open to students who have taken EVRN 535 or GEOG 535. (Same as GEOG 335.) Prerequisite: GEOG 104 or GEOL 101 or consent of instructor; BIOL 100 and CHEM 184 or CHEM 185 recommended. LEC
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A survey of changes in the landscape and in people's perceptions of the natural world from 1500 to present. Topics include agroecology, water and energy, the impact of capitalism, industrialism, urbanization, and such technologies as the automobile and the origins of conservation. (Same as HIST 347.) LEC
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This course examines how human relationships with the biophysical world are politicized. Examines key contributions to debates surrounding environmental security, resource conflicts, and related issues, as well as geopolitical assumptions on which these debates build. (Same as GEOG 371.) LEC
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This course invites students to study society and its impact on the environment. Environmental problems are social problems. This course will address such items as social paradigms, theories, inequalities, movements, and research. (Same as SOC 385.) LEC
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Focuses on applications of geospatial technologies to environmental issues using case study examples and data, and provide students with a foundational skill-set in geographic information systems, remote sensing, and GPS techniques. Prerequisite: EVRN/GEOG 148/149; EVRN/HIST 103, EVRN/GEOG 150 or EVRN/HIST 347. LEC
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Courses on special topics in Environmental Science and/or Policy. These courses may be lecture, discussions, or readings. Students may enroll in more than one interest group but may enroll in a given interest group only once. LEC
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Though natural factors are introduced, this course focuses primarily on the human factors that contribute to global water scarcity. This course also discusses the consequences of water scarcity and its effects on society. Prerequisite: EVRN 148 or permission of instructor. LEC
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This course provides undergraduate students with practical experience in field data collection techniques and laboratory data analysis methods. During the first half of the semester, students work in the field using a variety of methods to measure such vegetation characteristics as: cover, density, biomass, leaf area, and canopy architecture. Students gain experience in the use of field instruments including a spectoradiometer, and techniques for quantifying biophysical attributes of vegetation. During the later part of the course, students learn to summarize their field data and examine relationships between the vegetation attributes and measurements made using remote sensing instruments. Recommended: GEOG 316 or an introductory statistics equivalent. (Same as GEOG 433.) FLD
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Provides practical experience in the characterization of a diversity of ecosystem types; lakes, streams, forests, and prairies. This course is writing intensive, and designed for Environmental Studies majors. Prerequisite: EVRN/GEOG 148/149; EVRN/HIST 103, EVRN/HIST 347 or EVRN/GEOG 150; Senior standing. Restricted to declared Environmental Studies majors. FLD
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Supervised practical experience in a specific environmental area of interest. The advisor will schedule regular meetings to evaluate progress and provide assistance. A written summary of the internship experience and evaluation will be prepared independently by the student, a representative of the cooperating agency, and the advisor. Total credit may not exceed 8 hours. Prerequisite: Junior standing and consent of program director. Restricted to declared Environmental Studies majors. Restricted to students with a 2.5 overall GPA or above. FLD
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This course focuses on applying advanced geospatial mapping and analysis techniques to "real-world" environmental issues. Course content may include lecture/lab time on advanced geospatial topics; a major class project, small-group projects, or individual projects; or half-semester internships with state agencies or campus entities that will culminate in an individual project. The specific nature of projects will be driven largely by student interest and ability, as well as agency/center needs. Prerequisite: EVRN 410 or equivalent course; or permission of the instructor. LEC
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Introduction to study of the environment through air photos and satellite imagery, including principles of remote sensing, interactions of electromagnetic energy with the atmosphere and earth's surface, aerial photography, satellite systems, and sensors (electro-optical, thermal, and radar). Emphasis in the latter part of the course is on such applications as global monitoring, land cover mapping, forestry, agriculture, and oceanography. Laboratory emphasizes visual interpretation of aerial photography and satellite imagery and an introduction to digital image processing in the department's NASA Earth Science Remote Sensing Laboratory. (Same as GEOG 526.) Prerequisite: MATH 101 or equivalent. GEOG 358 recommended. LEC
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This course provides an overview of environmental justice, both as a social movement and as a public policy initiative. Environmental justice examines the distribution of environmental externalities across different socio-economic and racial groups. We will discuss several different public policy areas that have been impacted by the environmental justice movement: hazardous waste facility siting, urban redevelopment and Brownfields, transportation policy, and Native American sovereignty. We will also touch upon international environmental policy in an environmental justice context. Throughout the course we will evaluate empirical issues in studying environmental justice. (Same as POLS 528.) Prerequisite: POLS 306, or a statistics class, or consent of instructor. LEC
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A broad study of the principles and properties of soils and their distribution on the landscape. Topics covered include: pedology, clay mineralogy, soil physics, soil chemistry, management of soils, soil biology, taxonomy, and soil geomorphology. Laboratory section and a field project are required. Not open to students who have taken EVRN 335 or GEOG 335. (Same as GEOG 535.) Prerequisite: GEOG 104 or GEOL 101 or consent of the instructor; BIOL 104 and CHEM 184 or CHEM 185 recommended. LEC
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This course examines the physical and chemical properties of soils and methods of evaluation. Physical topics include the movement of water, heat, gases, and solutes through soil. Chemistry topics include solid and solution speciation, mineral solubility, ion exchange, and oxidation reduction reactions in soils. (Same as GEOG 538.) Prerequisite: EVRN 335 or GEOG 335 or EVRN 535 or GEOG 535; CHEM 188 or CHEM 189, MATH 121, and PHSX 114, or consent of the instructor. LEC
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Course will involve lectures and discussion of Ethnobotany - the mutual relationship between plants and traditional people. Research from both the field of anthropology and botany will be incorporated in this course to study the cultural significance of plant materials. The course has 7 main areas of focus: 1) Methods in Ethnobotanical Study; 2) Traditional Botanical Knowledge - knowledge systems, ethnolinguistics; 3) Edible and Medicinal Plants of North America (focus on North American Indians); 4) Traditional Phytochemistry - how traditional people made use of chemical substances; 5) Understanding Traditional Plant Use and Management; 6) Applied Ethnobotany; 7) Ethnobotany in Sustainable Development (focus on medicinal plant exploration by pharmaceutical companies in Latin America). (Same as ANTH 582.) Prerequisite: ANTH 104, ANTH 108, EVRN 148, or consent of instructor. LEC
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This course provides an overview of the theory and empirical practice of economic analysis as it applies to environmental issues. Topics include externalities (a type of market failure), the valuation of nonmarket goods, the practice of benefit-cost analysis, and the efficiency and cost effectiveness of pollution control policies. Most importantly, the course permits students to perform economic field research, using state-of-the-art techniques in a manner accessible to undergraduate students. (Same as ECON 550.) Prerequisite: ECON 104, ECON 140, or ECON 142. LEC
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This course compares environmental politics and policies across a number of countries, including those in North America, Western Europe, East Asia, and Latin America. (Same as POLS 553.) LEC
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Americans dramatically changed the natural world between 1900 and 2000. This course asks how transformed environments shaped the American experience during a century of technological innovation, democratic renewal, economic expansion, global conflict, and cultural pluralism. Topics include food and markets, energy and transportation, law and politics, protest and resistance, suburbanization, and environmentalism's fate in a global information era. (Same as HIST 562.) LEC
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Explores both leading and dissident ideas that Americans have had about the natural world since 1900. Broad chronological periods are explored in some depth, including the Progressive Era, New Deal, Cold War, the Sixties, and the Reagan Eighties. The course uses articles and books, as well as visual and aural forms of communication. Commercial speech, as well as scholarly and literary works, are considered. (Same as HIST 563.) Prerequisite: EVRN 148 or HIST 129, or by permission of instructor. LEC
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Water quality issues are integrated with land use planning and the development of watershed management strategies. Interrelationships among the hydrologic cycle, atmospheric deposition, nutrient transformations and pesticide use are examined in regards to stream, lake, and groundwater quality. Prerequisite: CHEM 125 or CHEM 184 and BIOL 414, or consent of instructor. LEC
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The capstone project provides students with a broad-based, interdisciplinary educational experience and allows them to integrate and synthesize the knowledge they have gained in their environmental studies major. It rejoins the cohort that has separately pursued the BA/BGS and BS tracks and places them in situations in which they address real world environmental issues with a team approach and produce professionally meaningful analytical reports. Prerequisite: Junior standing; EVRN 320, EVRN 332, and EVRN 460. Restricted to declared Environmental Studies majors. LEC
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Analysis of environmental politics and the formulation and implementation of environmental policy. Examines the history and development of environmental politics as well as current trends. Themes include interest groups, business interests, political institutions, and specific environmental policy issues. (Same as POLS 624.) LEC
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A research course, in any of the fields of environmental studies, consisting of either experimental research, original policy analysis, or the preparation of an extensive paper based on library investigation. Project topic to be agreed upon in advance with supervising faculty member. Prerequisite: Consent of instructor. IND
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A course giving eligible majors the opportunity to earn Departmental Honors by engaging in an intensive program of study leading to an original piece of research. Prerequisite: Senior standing, approval of the Environmental Studies Program, the Honors Project Director, and an overall 3.25 cumulative grade point average during the semester of enrollment. Restricted to declared Environmental Studies majors. IND
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This course examines the social, institutional and political context of public health policy in the United States. We will examine factors that shape the nation's public health, explore the role of government in reducing risk and promoting well being, and analyze the major institutions responsible for monitoring, protecting and promoting general public health. Themes include the social determinants of health, health disparities, emerging infectious diseases, food safety, transportation, and environmental health. (Same as POLS 628.) Prerequisite: POLS 110 and POLS 306 are recommended. LEC
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An introduction to the patterns and processes that affect terrestrial ecosystems. Emphasis is placed on understanding nutrient cycles (e.g., carbon nitrogen phosphorous), hydrologic cycles, and patterns of net primary productivity. The role of both natural and anthropogenic disturbances in structuring terrestrial ecosystems is examined in the context of global land-use patterns. Discussion of current research literature will be expected. (Same as BIOL 656.) Prerequisite: BIOL 414 and CHEM 130. LEC
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Topics of current interest in environmental studies. May be repeated for credit for different topics. LEC
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This interdisciplinary graduate seminar examines the history of climate change from natural and physical science, social science, and humanities perspectives. The class explores the ways that different disciplines approach understanding climate change and its impact on natural and human systems and how these understandings have changed over time. The course is team-taught by faculty from the natural and physical sciences, social sciences, humanities, and professional schools, and will include faculty guest speakers from KU and off-campus. Students will write a research paper on a climate change topic of their choice that reflects the historical and interdisciplinary approaches of the seminar. A goal of the seminar is to assemble student papers for presentation and possible publication. Prerequisite: Consent of instructor. LEC
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This interdisciplinary graduate seminar examines the role of climate in shaping energy, ecology, and community in Kansas from natural and physical science, social science, and/or humanities perspectives. The class will combine lectures, group projects, and field research to understand the ways that climate change and energy production are reshaping the human and natural systems in Kansas and the Great Plains. The course is team-taught by faculty from the natural and physical science, social science, humanities and professional schools, and will include faculty guest speakers from KU and off-campus. Students will identify and design a service learning project that combines issues of climate, energy, and community, and will use a variety of interdisciplinary tools including modeling, remote sensing, and scaling to complete their project and present their findings to local stakeholders. Prerequisite: Consent of instructor. LEC
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Courses on special topics in Environmental Studies. These courses may be lecture, seminars, or readings. Students may enroll in more than one interest group but may enroll in a given interest group only once. LEC
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The goal of this research seminar is to discuss individual students' research, culminating in the completion of a paper in Environmental Studies for presentation at a professional meeting and/or publication in a professional journal. SEM
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