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Environmental Science

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Departmental Mission Statement

Requirements for Major

Core Curriculum


Approved Field Intensive Courses

Requirements for Minor

Course Descriptions


Director, Chris Keil


In the Environmental Science Program at Wheaton College students learn the science and service of environmental stewardship, and the understanding and care of Godís physical creation. Through acts of scholarship and service, students and faculty protect environmental systems, inform the global church, and influence society and culture to make appropriate responses of stewardship that reflect creation care.

The Environmental Science curriculum consists of a core curriculum of 42 credit hours and 10 credit hours of approved environmental science electives. The core curriculum covers four broad areas of environmental science:

*       the interdisciplinary foundation and issues of environmental science in the core natural sciences,

*       the technical skills needed to assess environmental problems and develop and implement solutions

*       the environmental and social science connections inherent to environmental problems,

*       professional development through practical experiences in environmental study, management and research as expressions of service to God, other human beings, and creation.

These thematic areas are infused with a Biblical theology of creation care and stewardship.

Students select, in consultation with their academic advisor, elective environmental science courses that complement their individual interests. These electives provide more advanced expressions of theory and practice in lectures, discussions, laboratory, field experience, and environmental research. This curriculum prepares students not only to be an effective servant as an environmental professional, but to become an agent of transformation of the professional culture of environmental science in ways that increase Christian influence and expression in this field.

Field science experience is a key component of preparation for an environmental vocation. The Environmental Science Program is supported by the facilities and courses at the Wheaton College Science Station in the Black Hills of South Dakota. Study in the Black Hills completes two of the Core Requirements for the major as well as satisfying the field-intensive course requirement. Upon completion of a summer of study in the Black Hills Environmental Science students are eligible to apply for research positions at the Science Station. Participation in a HNGR internship or a semester abroad at the International Sustainable Development Studies Institute are other ways to meet the field requirement of the major and complete the major elective requirements. There are additional opportunities for off campus field studies including the Au Sable Institute (Michigan) and the Woods Hole Marine Biological Laboratory (Massachusetts).

An internship or research experience is a distinctive requirement for Environmental Science students at Wheaton College. Internships can be completed with private, governmental or non-profit organizations. With appropriate planning and coordination students may complete their internship through the Human Needs and Global Resources (HNGR) program, Urban Studies Program, or other approved experiential learning semester experience. Research experiences can be completed in collaboration with Wheaton faculty on campus or at field locations. While the Environmental Science program will provide assistance and direction, it is the studentís responsibility to arrange and obtain approval for their internship or research experience.

Students who complete an Environmental Science major are granted a Bachelor of Science degree unless they request a Bachelor of Arts degree.

Core Curriculum (Required of all students) 42 hours

BIOL 242 Diversity of Life

BIOL 243 Processes of Life

CHEM 231 General Chemistry

ENVR 221 Living in the Environment: An Introduction to Environmental Science

ENVR 341 Quantitative Methods for Environmental Analysis and Problem Solving

GEOL 201 or 211 Exploring the Dynamic Earth

GEOL 371 Introduction to Geographic Information Systems (2)

HNGR 114 Poverty, Justice and Transformation or URBN 114 Social Life of Cities

ENVR 381 Environmental Pollution and Toxicology

ENVR 495 Environmental Science Research (2-4) or ENVR 496 Internship (2-4)

ENVR 494 Environmental Science Capstone (2)


One approved field-intensive course (see list)


Select a minimum of 10 hours from the list below in consultation with the program director

ANTH 362 Globalization

BIOL 241 Organization of Life

BIOL 343 Plant Taxonomy (3)

BIOL 344 Economic Botany

BIOL 352 Parasitology (2)

BIOL 356 Genetics (prerequisite BIOL 241, 242 and 252 or ENVR 341 with dept. approval)

BIOL 365 Marine Biology

BIOL 368 Invertebrate Zoology

BIOL 372 Field Zoology (3)

BIOL 382 Field Natural History

ECON 365 Economic Development and Growth (prerequisite ECON 211)

ENVR 391 Environmental Modeling

ENVR 395 Independent Studies in Environmental Science

ENVR 421 Basic Applications in Agronomy

ENVR 431 Introduction to Environmental and Geotechnical Engineering

GEOL 332 Studies in Regional Geology

GEOL 336 Process Geomorphology

GEOL 342 Fundamentals of Geochemistry (2)

GEOL 343 Fundamentals of Mineral Science (2)

GEOL 344 General Petrology and Petrography

GEOL 355 Introduction to Soil Science

GEOL 365 Physics of the Earth (2)

GEOL 372 GIS Practicum (2)

GEOL 381 Global Warming (2)

GEOL 388 Appropriate Technology, Development, and the Environment (2)

GEOL 412 Field Geology (6)

GEOL 437 Hydrogeology

HNGR 381 Topics in Development (2 or 4)

IR 353 Comparative Public Policy (2)

IR 382 Global Warming Politics (2)

PHYS 315 Meteorology (2) - taught at the Wheaton College Science Station

PSCI 373 Environmental Politics (2)

PSCI 386 Congress and American Politics

URBN 233 Chicago

Approved Field Intensive Courses

Wheaton College Science Station

BIOL 242 Diversity of Life

BIOL 243 Processes of Life: Ecology and Evolution

BIOL 382 Field Natural History

Since BIOL 242 and BIOL 243 are also core requirements, if either is used to meet the field course core requirement, an additional four hours of elective coursework is needed to meet the 52 total credit hours required for the major.

International Sustainable Development Studies Institute

At this semester abroad program student will take Agroecology, Political Ecology of Forests, and Islands, Oceans and Sustainability which fulfill field intensive requirements as well as 12 credits hours of environmental science major electives.

Au Sable Institute of Environmental Studies

Varies by year. Check program website for course listing. Fulfills field-intensive requirement with approval by Director of Environmental Science based on studentís curricular goals.

Morton Arboretum

Varies by year. Check program website for current course listing. Fulfills field-intensive requirement with approval by Directory of Environmental Science based on studentís curricular goals.

Woods Hole Marine Biological Station

Varies by year. Check program website for course listing. Fulfills field-intensive requirement with approval by Director of Environmental Science based on studentís curricular goals.

Requirements for a minor in Environmental Science include 20 hours: ENVR 221, BIOL 242, BIOL 243, GEOL 211, GEOL 371 (2), and two additional hours as advised by the Director of the Environmental Science Program.

Environmental Science Courses (ENVR)

ENVR 221. Living in the Environment: An Introduction to Environmental Science. An introduction to the historical and contemporary problems and dilemmas faces as humans live in and interact with the environment. The scientific basis, cultural causes, social implications, ethical dimensions, and avenues for constructive response are addressed. Three lectures, three hours laboratory. Lab fee $25. Field trip ($15 trip fee). SP

ENVR 315. Nature, Environment, and Society. An exploration of contemporary environmental issues and problems. The understanding of the natural world will support the analysis of the role of society in creating, perpetuating and addressing these challenges. The role of personal and cultural responsibility for stewarding the natural environment will be emphasized. Field and classroom investigations will focus on the Black Hills context. Lab fee $50. SIP

ENVR 319. Environmental Ethics. A survey and analysis of major scientific problems and foundational philosophies underlying contemporary environmental ethics and the application of environmental ethics to the scientific and professional practice of conservation and environmental stewardship in scientific research, personal decision making, and professional environmental management. Prerequisite: Lab science course; counts as upper division science requirement under legacy gen ed only.

ENVR 325. The Global Commons: International Issues in Environmental Science. An examination of environmental issues and challenges around the globe. The scientific principles needed to understand and characterize the problems will be covered as well as the economic, political, historical and cultural factors that drive the development of the problems. Attention will be given to integrated and holistic approaches to addressing environmental challenges. Prerequisite: SP course. GP, SIP

ENVR 341. Quantitative Methods for Environmental Analysis and Problem Solving. Mathematical approaches to quantitatively describe, analyze, and understand environmental processes. Descriptive and inferential statistical techniques and numeric modeling are used to address environmental problems. Emphasis is on applications of the methods to practical problems and the use of computer resources. Three lectures, two hours laboratory. AAQR

ENVR 381. Environmental Pollution and Toxicology. A study of the sources, environmental and human health impacts, and regulatory and engineering control of environmental pollution. Air pollutants, surface and groundwater pollutants, solid waste and hazardous waste will be covered. Human health impacts will be studied from a toxicologic and epidemiology basis. Measurement techniques will be covered in lab sessions. Three lectures, three hours laboratory. Lab fee $25. Prerequisite: Laboratory science (SP) course.

ENVR 391. Environmental Modeling. Increasingly models are used to understand and solve environmental processes and systems and to aid in environmental management. The course will introduce students to a variety of modeling methods (e.g. physical/mathematical, discrete/continuous, finite difference/finite element, stochastic/deterministic) and give environmental examples from the geological, biological, climatological, and socio-politico-economic fields. Students will analyze a problem and determine which type of model is appropriate and then proceed to construct the model. They will evaluate existing models with respect to boundary conditions, input, resolution, numerical stability, and appropriateness of assumptions. Three lectures, three hours laboratory. Prerequisite: ENVR 341. Alternate years.

ENVR 395. Independent Studies in Environmental Science. Field, laboratory and literature research under faculty direction. Application of data gathering and analysis methods. Communication of results in multiple formats. Prerequisite: Instructor approval. (2-4)

ENVR 421. Basic Applications in Agronomy. A survey of concepts and methods in crop science. Subject matter is intended to provide background for domestic, as well as international interests. Topics in lecture and lab include agricultural ecology, forestry, food-crop production, and growth optimization in various environments. Three lectures, three hours laboratory. Prerequisites: introductory biology lab course, ENVR 221, or permission of the instructor.

ENVR 431. Introduction to Environmental and Geotechnical Engineering. A survey of concepts and problem solving involving the interaction of people and earth systems. Subject matter is intended to provide background for domestic, as well as international interests. Topics in lecture and lab include basic systems analysis, energy, pollution abatement, water systems, construction criteria, and testing/utilization of earth materials. Three lectures, three hours laboratory. Lab fee $50. Prerequisites: ENVR 221 and ENVR 341 or PHYS 221, PHYS 231 or permission of the instructor. Alternate years.

ENVR 494. Environmental Science Capstone. A culminating experience for environmental science students' college career. Topics from across the breadth of the curriculum are integrated with environmental issues. Students explore the role of their liberal arts education and the practice of environmental stewardship as part of a personal and professional vocation. Prerequisites: ENVR 495 or 496, or permission of instructor. (2)

ENVR 495. Environmental Science Research. Field, laboratory, or library research involving selection of a research problem, review of appropriate professional literature, completion of data collection and analysis, and preparation of one or more professional papers submitted for presentation or publication in an appropriate professional venue. Requires direct supervision and mentoring by the program director of Environmental Science or faculty approved by the director. (2-4)

ENVR 496. Environmental Science Internship. An extended and concentrated experience in research, management, or education in environmental science under approved professional supervision and college guidelines. Prerequisites: Sophomore standing or higher and approval by the program director of Environmental Science. (2-4)

ENVR 497. Environmental and Conservation Science Research Seminar. A weekly seminar featuring presentations of on-going primary research on problems of environmental and conservation studies in the natural and social sciences. Graded pass/fail. One hour per week. Prerequisites: Sophomore standing or higher. (1)

Revision Date: June 1, 2017



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