Academic Catalog 2020–2021

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Environmental Science Courses

ENV200 Introduction to Environmental Science

[3–0, 3 cr.]

This is an introduction to the environmental problems and challenges facing humankind. Global problems will be directly related to issues facing the regional and local environment. The course covers environmental problems and their causes, ecosystems and how they work, deforestation, loss of biodiversity, species extinction, air pollution, global warming, ozone depletion, solid waste disposal, renewable energy technologies, and applications to alleviate environmental problems. Case studies will be presented and potential solutions will be attempted. The course includes field trips.

ENV210 Climate Change Risks to Ecosystems and Biodiversity

[3–0, 3 cr.]

This course investigates climate change risks to ecosystems and biodiversity and explores methods and tools for assessing climate impacts to ecosystems, species and human livelihoods. Course topics include the climate system and greenhouse effect; changes in palaeoclimate and their impacts on ecosystems and species distributions; more recent climate changes and their observed impacts; mechanisms by which climate affects ecosystems; projections of future climate change and potential impacts on ecosystems, ecosystem goods and services, and human livelihoods; ecological niche modelling; biogeography models; dynamic vegetation models; and social science methods for assessing human consequences of ecosystem changes and biodiversity losses. At the end of the course, the students will work in teams to develop and present case studies of climate change threats to the biodiversity around the world.

ENV211 Conserving Biodiversity in a Changing Climate

[3–0, 3 cr.]

Students of the course will examine current conservation strategies in terms of their effectiveness in addressing changing risks under a changing climate and will learn to develop new and/or modified strategies where necessary to address these risks. Students will also learn to use methods and tools that can assess ecosystem responses to climate variability and change and thus guide the development of new/modified conservation strategies. Course topics include: The role of ecosystems and biodiversity in sustaining the planet and major stresses; traditional approaches to biodiversity conservation including legal and policy aspects as well as community scale strategies; effectiveness of traditional approaches; approaches to designing landscapes for protecting ecosystems and biodiversity under climate change; use of spatial analysis tools to guide landscape design; management strategies; policies and tools for protecting matrix areas; community participation; planning for long term monitoring and evaluation; and case study approaches to designing climate sensitive conservation strategies. Students will design a conservation plan that is sensitive to changing risks in a changing climate for a selected region.

ENV220 Renewable Energy for Sustainable Development

[3–0, 3 cr.]

We live in an era of ever-rising oil prices, where economic development is strongly correlated with increasing energy use and levels of electrification rates. Economies are restricted by fluctuating energy supplies and put under pressure due to the burdens energy security puts on their national policies and strategic planning.

The importance of utilization of smart renewable energy solutions helps economies and nations in achieving reliable energy supply at affordable costs and reduced negative environmental impact. The use of clean energy sources is on essential ingredient of sustainable economic development, enhancing the strength of the economy through providing green jobs, improving energy supply, and protecting eco-tourism.

This course looks at renewable energy solutions as key component to developing economies and strengthening the capabilities of developing nations. It is designed to introduce students to the issues of energy in the 21st century and their effects on the economy covering energy production and use from different perspectives including biology. Engineering, economics, climate science, and socio-economic science.

Note: This course has not been taught since Fall 2017 and will not be taught in the academic year 2020-2021.

ENV222 Social Aspects of Renewable Energy for Rural Development

[3–0, 3 cr.]

“Rich are getting richer while the poor are getting poorer”. This can be described as the most commonly used phrase in the 21st century. This situation gets worse with the increasing prices of basic human needs such as food, clothing, and energy supply. Energy has become a critical issue in both urban and rural areas. While the first appears to have enough resources to cover up their demand and avoid economic drops, rural regions remain poor at resources and potential, and mainly suffer from shortage in energy supply leading to a deterioration in their social and economic standing. The course offers students a deep understanding of the role renewable energy plays in sustainable rural development, cleaner technology incorporation and the potential for mitigating climate change impacts on the poor. It allows students to study the various renewable energy applications that can be utilized in rural regions at low cost for improved social standing. During the course, students will examine the energy demand and requirements in rural regions and how renewable energy can be utilized to cover this demand, reducing low productivity in sectors such as agriculture and industry due to insufficient and interpretable supply of power, water, and other main resources.

ENV223 Financing Renewable Energy

[3–0, 3 cr.]

With frequent increasing fluctuation of oil prices, the shift towards renewable energy is becoming more and more realistic. Nations are adopting renewable energy strategies to avoid remaining hand-tied and improve energy security, always with environmental concerns in mind. With the remarkable technical advancements and the growing target market, renewable energy has become an option that every community and every family discuss going for it and reducing fossil fuel consumption. But the major barrier remains, which is the financing requirements of renewable energy projects. There is no doubt that renewables do have less operating expenses compared to conventional energy, and less maintenance as well in so many conditions, but the capital investment is still too high to compare to a fuel oil or natural gas power plants. This requires a well-structured financing mechanism, a sustainable mechanism that would promote the use of clean energy and reduce the human impact on the environment. This will in turn reduce the greenhouse gas emissions causing climate change. This course presents the different financing methods being applied and discussed a couple of case studies from the developing world.

ENV224 World Ocean Solutions

[3–0, 3 cr.]

More than 70% of earth surface is water, leaving less than 30% for human utilization for various activities. Around 361,130,976 square kilometers is the total surface area of water on earth that has proven to be rich in resources and potential. Human have started benefiting from these resources mainly focusing on fishing and oil extraction, but there is more potential than just this. The terrifyingly growing population that is expected to exceed 9 billion in2050, and the depletion of resources, together put a lot of pressure on food, water, and energy supplies, thus threaten biodiversity and contribute to climate deterioration. This course explores untapped potential within the world ocean (oceans and seas) and studies its capacity in providing human basic needs to reduce food, water, and energy supply stress.

ENV225 Energy in Buildings

[3–0, 3 cr.]

Buildings are reported to share more than 40% of the global energy consumption, and emitting large amounts of greenhouse gases that are contributing to climate change and global warming. Buildings are the highest electricity consuming sector, especially residential buildings that are occupied 24/7, consuming electricity mainly for lighting, air conditioning, and water heating purposes. The course presents the concept of energy conservation in buildings and the role it plays in reducing greenhouse gas emissions. It illustrates the different green building design systems and shows the economic and environmental benefits behind efficient building design and operation.

ENV230 Sustainability in Practice

[3–0, 3 cr.]

Defined as “meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs”, sustainability has become one of the hottest topics in the 21st century. International agencies and organizations have clearly declared their commitment to establish more sustainable processes and operations in which a future for our kids and grandkids is guaranteed. This course tackles sustainability from its practical perspective, and studies human actions and capabilities to handle global change, climatic deterioration, ecosystem degradation, and resource depletion. It covers the millennium development goals and the factors directly linked to achieving them. Factors such as growing population, energy demand, water scarcity, climate change, and environmental economics will be discussed. 

ENV402 Environmental Policy and Management

[3–0, 3 cr.]

This course explores human made problems in the environment parallel with concepts in environmental ethics, management and policies so as solutions are provided concerning preservation of the environment. Topics covered include toxic and solid wastes; pollution of air, water, food and soil; and international and national environmental ethics, management and policies.

Prerequisite: Senior standing

ENV422 Environmental Impact Assessment

[3–0, 3 cr.]

This course is the study and evaluation of the impacts of large scale projects on the quality of the physical, biological, and socio-economic environment taking into account environmental laws and regulations, and EIA guidelines. The course also addresses the identification of impact, quantification methods, mitigation measures, and monitoring plans as well as a case study involving the preparation of an EIA REPORT.

Prerequisite: Consent of instructor or senior standing

ENV423 Environmental Microbiology

[2–3, 3 cr.]

This ecologically based course discusses the relationship of microorganisms with one another and with their environment. It stresses the three major domains of life – Eucaryota, Archaea and Bacteria and studies their diversity, interactions and physiology in their natural environments. Biodegradation of organic matter, bio-geo-cycling of minerals and waste bio-treatment are emphasized. The course also deals with metagenomic, metaproteomic techniques and applications as well as the use of microarrays in Microbial Ecology.

ENV426 Environmental Remediation

[3–0, 3 cr.]

This course deals with processes employing microorganisms, fungi, plants or their enzymes to return contaminated environments, such as polluted waters and soils, to their natural condition. The control, optimization and monitoring of bioremediation is discussed as well as the environmental factors and microbial populations involved. In-situ, ex-situ applications and genetic engineering approaches are emphasized.

Prerequisite: Senior standing

ENV427 Environmental Physics

[3–0, 3 cr.]

The course comprises aspects of atmospheric physics, soil physics and many aspects of applied physics.   It introduces the essentials in environmental physics, and describes the basics in environmental spectroscopy e.g. black body radiation and the solar UV and Life.  It also addresses the global climate, energy balance, energy available for human use, transport of pollutants, and noise pollution.  The course also discusses risk estimations, energy saving and nature and future thinking in the context of the global society.