Environment, Society, and Culture, Minor

Liberal Arts (Code 489-401)

Advisors: J. Boulter, K Mumford, J. Phillips (Chemistry), C. Pierce, D. Soll.

The Environment, Society, and Culture minor enables students to probe the human dimensions of environmental issues through a variety of courses crossing many disciplines. Built around a core science requirement, the program is rounded out with courses in ethics, philosophy/religion, history, sociology, geography, and economics—courses that examine social conflict and the policies that engender and address conflict. This minor is open to all students; while perhaps best suited to students majoring in the humanities and social sciences, it is designed to be flexible so that students can tailor it to meet their particular needs and interests.

In this minor, students gain the ability to answer critical environmental challenges ranging from air quality, food production safety and distribution, loss of critical habitats, issues related to urban growth, climate change, water pollution, and the spread and prevalence of disease, while applying principles or environmental justice, civic engagement and strategic policy approaches. These solutions require students to integrate and apply concepts and tools of multiple disciplines from across the university and into the community.

Contemplation of the environment raises many questions, some of them clearly scientific in nature: “What chemical is polluting the river? What are that chemical’s toxicological properties, and how will they affect the ecosystem?” Some of the questions raised transcend the purely scientific perspective: “Who is dumping that chemical in the river? Why did they make that choice—was profit involved? Mere carelessness?” Or “Do any societal needs drive demands for this chemical? Can those needs be met in alternative ways?” And “Who lives by the river, what socio-economic conditions brought them there and how are they affected by this chemical’s presence?” Or again—“What laws pertain to the river? To whom does the river ‘belong’?” Such questions, equally important and as intellectually challenging as the purely scientific inquiries, in fact provide a larger context for the science. To ask this full range of questions is to think ecologically—that is, with an awareness of the entire mechanism—about environmental issues.

This minor requires a minimum of 24 credits, of which at least 12 credits must be from courses numbered 300 and higher.
Select at least one gateway course from the following:
Environmental Biology and Conservation
Chemistry and Climate
Conservation of the Environment
Introduction to Environmental Health
Global Environmental and Public Health
Select at least three of the following from the “Socio-cultural Perspectives” category:
Environmental Economics
Sustainable Cities
Waste & Society: Energy, Food, and Efficiency
U.S. Environmental and Sustainability Policy
Geography of Food
International Environmental Problems and Policy
Historical Geography
American Environmental History
Environmental Sociology
Principles of Demography
Environmental Ethics
Ecofeminism - Women's Studies and Environmental Justice
Natural Science Focus Area: A two-course sequence in a natural science chosen from the following options:
Conservation Biology 1
Chemical Principles
and Environmental Chemistry 2
Environmental Geology
and Earth Resources
Water Resources
The Physical Environment
and Introduction to Geomorphology
Environmental Hazards
Select additional courses selected from those listed above or from the options below to reach a total of 24 credits:
Biological Field Experiences and Service-Learning Capstone
Seminar in Science and Nature Writing
Water and Wastewater
Hazardous and Solid Waste Management
Land Use Issues and Problems
Soils and the Environment
Tourism Geographies
Geography Field Seminar
Native Geographies
Earth Algebra
Physics of Renewable Energy
Social Class and Inequality

Note 1: Credits from other courses may be applied as electives, pending advisor and college approval, when they focus specifically on environmental topics. Examples of such courses include: CHEM 100, Hnrs courses, IDIS 151-IDIS 155, IDIS 351-IDIS 355, NRSG 255, and WRIT 114, WRIT 116, WRIT 118, WRIT 120. Also, various departments may offer special topics courses, directed studies courses, independent study courses, and/or internships that may also apply.

Note 2: For students pursuing a standard major in Geography, a maximum of 12 credits from the major may be applied to this minor.