Because we are an interdisciplinary department, our courses range widely in content, from economics to earth science, from chemistry to ecological modeling. These courses reflect the expertise of our faculty, who are scholars producing original research as well as teaching. Because we also teach what we research, topics covered in classes represent current theory and techniques in that field. As new innovations happen, you will be right there learning about these changes with your professors. You spend time in the classroom, in the science labs, in the field, in the computer lab, working on projects, writing papers, giving talks and more. You will certainly be busy, but this will be the most intellectually stimulating time of your life.
Our classes are designed to teach practical skills, the kind that are fun and interesting to learn, and the kind for which employers are looking. Classes are small and we love to teach, so even if a topic sounds intimidating, you know that you will have the individual support to succeed. Small classes mean lots of interaction and in-depth discussion.
It is no coincidence that our faculty rank in the top 10 percent for accessibility and engagement in the National Survey of Student Engagement. When you study the environment at Sweet Briar College, you see this in every course we teach. At Sweet Briar, you can count on your professors -- as teachers, as mentors, and as councelors providing you with helpful professional career guidance. We care about your success.
So read through some of the course descriptions below and imagine taking these classes as you learn and grow as an environmental professional.
Courses Taught in the Department of Environmental Studies
ENVR 101 (3) - Introduction to Environmental Issues
An introduction to the multi-disciplinary field of environmental studies involving the integration of environmental science, policy, and planning. This course introduces various environmental problems, their causes, and potential solutions. The course examines overpopulation and current global environmental crises such as ozone depletion, loss of biodiversity, tropical deforestation, and contamination of water and air. V.4
ENVR 131 (3) - Physical Geography: Landscapes
A study of the geologic processes that shape the Earth's surface, including natural hazards such as volcanoes and earthquakes. Mountains, landslides, rivers, glaciers, deserts, coastlines, and soil-forming processes are investigated within the context of plate tectonics so that the pattern of landforms and soil types around the world can be better understood. V.8a
ENVR 133 (1) - Physical Geography Laboratory
Hands-on investigation of Earth surface processes, landforms, and soils. Activities include interpretation of topographic maps and aerial photographs, basic rock and mineral identification, soil sampling and description, experiments with water flow, and field exercises in geologic observation and interpretation. V.8b
ENVR 202 (1) - Environmental Sciences Laboratory
Pre or Corequisite: ENVR 208. An introduction to the field and laboratory aspects of environmental science including field trips to industrial, agricultural, and wastewater facilities. Students will achieve competency in the practice of wet chemistry, bioassays, habitat and stream assessment, wetlands delineation, and personal protective equipment use.
ENVR 208 (3) - Surface Waters
Prerequisite: ENVR 101. A study of freshwater and brackish water systems including streams, lakes, and estuaries. Physical, chemical, and biologic components of aquatic environments are examined with an emphasis on water quality, aquatic biology, watershed analysis, and water resource management. Hydrolic data analysis is stressed and performed using computers. V8a
ENVR 210 (3) - Humans and Wildlife
Prerequisite: ENVR 101. An historical and contemporary examination of human interaction with wildlife. Basic ecological principles are applied to the conservation and management of wildlife with particular emphasis on the role of humans in the environment. Students explore the development of human-wildlife relationships from prehistoric times through the agricultural revolution and European expansion to modern issues of wildlife conservation. Offered in alternate years. V.1
ENVR 215 (3) - Environmental Policy Analysis
Prerequisite: ENVR 101. An introduction to the principles of environmental policy planning and analysis. The development of environmental policy is explored and students and are introduced to the legal and regulatory institutions affecting environmental policy. Emphasis is placed on the processes by which interest groups compete for favorable policy and on the analysis of the social and economic results of specific environmental policies. Offered in alternate years. V.7
ENVR 220 (3) - Applied Environmental Analysis
Prerequisite: ENVR 208. An examination of the processes used to understand, analyze, and solve environmental problems. Students are introduced to experimental design and the use of statistics to analyze data. Problems involving stock, dimensional, and mass balance analysis are studied. The fundamentals of environmental toxicology and ecological risk assessment are applied to environmental issues.
ENVR 223 (3) - The Global Environment
Prerequisite: ENVR 101. An examination of the social, economic and ecological impacts of global environmental and natural resource problems, and the role of international institutions in their formation and mitigation. The course will explore the unique characteristics of global issues and examine our role and responsibilities in dealing with them. Topics may include global warming, limits to growth, population, economic development and sustainability. Offered in alternate years. V.5, V.7
ENVR 244 (3) - Environmental Chemistry
Prerequisites: CHEM 131 and ENVR 208. Corequisite: CHEM 226. Application of the fundamental principles of chemistry to understand the source, transport, and fate of inorganic and organic compounds in natural and polluted environments. Students will receive an introduction to the hydraulics, engineering, and chemistry of drinking water treatment, wastewater treatment, storm water management, and hazardous waste treatment. Methods of chemical analysis will also be stressed.
ENVR 309 (3) - Energy and Atmospheric Pollution
Prerequisites: ENVR 215. Dwindling, nonrenewable fossil fuel resources and air pollution issues, including climate change, ozone depletion, acid rain, and smog, are some of the most significant environmental problems of the 21st century. This course takes an in-depth look at both energy and atmospheric pollution, focusing on the science behind the issues and exploring their social, political, and economic aspects.
ENVR 316 (3) - Introduction to Geographic Information Systems
Prerequisites: Permission required for first-year students. An introduction to the nature, theory, and use of geographic information systems (GIS). Topics include map projections and coordinate systems as well as the sources, input, modeling, analysis, and output of spatial data. ArcView software is used to explore a variety of GIS applications, particularly those relevant to environmental science. Three hours lecture and three hours lab per week.
ENVR 322 (3) - Ecological Modeling
Prerequisites: BIOL 224, MATH 123. An application of modeling techniques to ecological systems and conservation problems. Students learn to examine ecological problems, determine the critical elements for analysis, develop quantitative models to perform the analysis, and generalize the results to address the original problem. The course begins with simple models, then progresses in complexity as students develop their modeling skills. Emphasis is placed on developing practical approaches solving real-world problems. Offered in alternate years.
ENVR 329 (3) - Global Biodiversity Conservation
Prerequisites: ENVR 210 or BIOL 224. An examination of the social, economic and ecological aspects of global biodiversity conservation. Students explore the roles of international institutions in biodiversity loss, the role of economic value in conservation and the causes of conflicts between humans and wilderness in developing countries. Major international conventions, such as the Convention on Biological Diversity and CITES, are analyzed for effectiveness in promoting biodiversity conservation. Offered in alternate years. V.4, V.7
ENVR 416 (3) - Advanced Geographic Information Systems
Prerequisite: ENVR 316. Hands-on exploration of advanced topics in geographic information systems (GIS), including database management, spatial data models, spatial analysis tools, and basic cartographic modeling. Involves application of ArcGIS software to a variety of geographic problems.
ENVR 433 (3) - Advanced Lab in Environmental Science
Prerequisite: BIOL 224, CHEM 226, ENVR 202, ENVR 208, ENVR 244 and ENVR 220. Senior environmental science students will work in teams to address local and regional environmental science problems, applying techniques and theories learned in previous science and environmental studies classes. Attendance on a one-day field trip during Reading Days is required. One two-hour lecture and one three-hour laboratory per week. III.W
ENVR 446 (3) - Evaluation of Environmental Issues
Prerequisite: ENVS or ENVR majors or minors with senior standing. A course designed to help students synthesize knowledge gained in previous courses with students' analytical abilities and facilities for oral and written persuasive argument. Students are provided with intractable environmental problems, about which they learn to perform independent research, develop clear positions, persuade others of their positions and defend those positions against competing views. III.O, III.W
ENVR 450 (3) - Senior Research in Environmental Studies
Prerequisite: ENVR 215 and ENVR 342. An independent field or computer research project selected and carried out in consultation with a faculty sponsor. A written report and an oral presentation are required. In addition to research time, a weekly one-hour meeting with the advisor and periodic meetings with other research students will be required.
ENVR 451 (3) - Senior Research in Environmental Science
Prerequisite: ENVR 353. An independent laboratory, field, or computer research project selected and carried out in consultation with a faculty sponsor. A written report and an oral presentation are required. In addition to research time, a weekly one-hour meeting with the advisor and periodic meetings with other research students is required.
Courses Taught by Environmental Faculty in Other Departments
CHEM 226 (1) - Environmental Analytical Chemistry Laboratory
Prerequisite: CHEM 131. Corequisite: CHEM 216 or ENVR 244. Students will gain hands-on experience analyzing samples using the methods discussed in CHEM 216. They will carry out analysis of samples from diverse matrices including sediment, aur, soil and water, and learn how to critically analyze data, conduct an error analysis, and recommend improvements in the experimental procedure. Students will gain experience designing their own experiments. Results will be presented in both oral and written formats. A nominal lab fee may be required for this course. One three-hour laboratory per week.
ECON 227 (3) - Methods of Economic Analysis
Prerequisites: ECON 101 and MATH 123. An introduction to the techniques of quantitative economic analysis, including the use of linear algebra, calculus and constrained optimization. The course is designed to introduce mathematics as a practical tool for economic analysis and to help students understand the foundations of economic thought. The focus of the course is on the application of mathematics to economics, not on mathematical theory. Offered alternate years. III.Q
ECON 342 (3) - Ecological Economics
Prerequisites: ENVR 101 or ECON 101. An application of economic theory to problems of environmental degradation, natural resource use and ecological disruption. Economic concepts, such as market failure, property rights and public goods, are combined with natural and physical science principles to explore the integration of economic and ecological systems. Emphasis is placed on the use of analytical economic tools such as benefit-cost analysis, economic policy instruments and non-market valuation. V.7