Environmental Science

Associate Professor Geiss (Physics), Director; Environmental Science Coordinating Committee: Professors Curran (Chemistry), Mertens (Engineering), Morrison∙∙ (Biology), and Myers∙∙ (Urban Studies and International Studies); Associate Professors Chambers∙∙ (Political Science), Fulco (Public Policy and Law), and Walden (Physics); Assistant Professor Wickman (History); Senior Lecturer and Laboratory Coordinator Gourley; Thomas McKenna Meredith ’48 Postdoctoral Fellow Douglass

Environmental science is an interdisciplinary major concerned with understanding the complex interactions between processes that shape our natural environment and human influences upon them. It draws upon the fields of biology, chemistry, physics, earth science, computer science, and engineering, and has bearings on areas such as public policy, medicine, economics, and law. This integration of several sciences fosters the exchange of information and ideas on the scientific problems and issues of the environment that range from local to regional to global. These issues have an impact on economic growth, food production, human health, and the overall quality of life for all living things. Solutions require practitioners trained to comprehend both the broad functioning of the biosphere and the way in which humans, especially through economics and public policy, both respond to and effect challenges and threats to the biosphere.

Trinity College’s location in the capital of Connecticut offers a wide range of opportunities for the study of a complex urban environment and direct contact with city, state, and federal regulatory agencies. Although many people equate environmental science with the natural world, most humans live in metropolitan areas. These areas have a tremendous impact on the environment: energy, water, food, housing, and transportation. A diversity of aquatic and terrestrial habitats at several local and regional sites, including Trinity-owned acreage in eastern Connecticut, also provides students with ideal field locations for comparative rural and urban environmental studies.

Goals—Study within the major can be structured to meet any of the following objectives:

Environmental science major (bachelor of science and bachelor of arts degrees)—Fourteen courses and an integrating experience are required for the major. Only courses with a grade of C- or better may be counted toward the major.

Bachelor of science in
environmental science

Bachelor of arts in
environmental science

requirement (5)

MATH 107 or 126 or 131a
PHYS 101L or 141L or one natural
science gateway courseb

MATH 107 or 126 or 131
PHYS 101 or 141L or one natural
science gatewayb or social sciencec course

requirement (4)

ENVS 401
Integrating experience

ENVS 401
Integrating experience

requirement (2)

Any two courses:

One course from the B.S.
concentration requirement list;
one course from the social
science/humanities course liste

Social sciences

Two courses from the social
science/humanities course liste

Two courses from the social
science/humanities course liste

electives (2)

A minimum of two credits from the
natural science electives course listd

A minimum of two credits in any
combination from the natural science or
social science/humanities course listsd,e

Total number
of courses



a Or any course in mathematics with a prerequisite of MATH 131.

b Natural science gateway courses:

c Students pursuing a bachelor of arts in environmental science can also fulfill one foundation course requirement through one of the following social sciences gateway courses:

d Natural sciences electives (list may change as new courses become available):

e Social science/humanities electives (list may change as new courses become available):

The Writing Intensive Part II requirement is fulfilled by ENVS 275L. Methods in Environmental Science and ENVS 401. Advanced Seminar in Environmental Science.

Advanced placement—Students who have received an Advanced Placement exam score of 4 or 5 in environmental science will be excused from ENVS 149L and receive one credit toward the major. However, it is highly recommended that students take ENVS 149L as the course covers many specific local environmental issues.

Teaching assistantship—Students may be asked by ENVS instructors to be a teaching assistant for various courses. Students who accept this offer must register for ENVS 466. College credit, but not major credit, is given for teaching assistants, and grading is on a pass/low pass/fail basis.

Courses at other institutions—Students who wish major credit for coursework at other institutions should: (1) receive approval from the registrar for college credit, and (2) submit to the director of the Environmental Science Program the name of the institution, the number, title, and catalog description of the course and, if possible, the syllabus. This information must be submitted in writing before the work is initiated and formal permission must be obtained before the course can be credited toward the major at Trinity. Some students may also wish to participate in semester programs that focus on serious study of environmental science. Among the suitable programs in which Trinity students pursuing an environmental science major participate regularly are:

Upon approval by the environmental science program director, up to three courses (plus a .5 credit research experience) taken away from Trinity may be counted toward the environmental science major. Under special circumstances, students may petition the program for permission to transfer additional courses; transfer students wishing to transfer more than three courses should petition at the time of admission.

Honors—Students seeking admission to the honors program in environmental science must submit a written application to the director before the sixth week of classes of their sixth semester. The Environmental Science Coordinating Committee will act on each application. Students seeking honors must have completed a minimum of five courses for the major by their fifth semester and their grade point average in these courses must be at least a B+ (3.3). Students not qualifying for the honors program after five semesters may be invited by the faculty to enter the program at a later time.

After acceptance into the honors program, students must maintain a GPA of B+ in their environmental science courses. In addition, they must perform research in environmental science (ENVS 419 or 425) for two semesters. The honors program culminates in an honors thesis (ENVS 497) and a public presentation. Upon completion of these requirements, the Environmental Science Coordinating Committee will vote to award honors to those candidates it deems qualified. Under exceptional circumstances, the coordinating committee may consider for honors research students who are not enrolled in the honors program but who produce particularly distinguished work.

Field studies in environmental science—Each year, environmental science faculty members conduct a 10- to 12-day field trip to a particular region of the U.S. or abroad. This trip introduces Trinity students to field methods in the environmental sciences. Students study the geology, ecology, and history of human impact on the region visited, which varies from year to year. Students also gain experience in basic field sampling techniques, observational skills, field note-taking, and methods for data analysis and interpretation. The trip occurs in either spring or late summer, depending on the destination; registration for ENVS 350 thus occurs in spring or fall semester, respectively.

The environmental science minor—The minor in environmental science is an option for students who do not wish to major in environmental science but wish to enhance their scientific background in conjunction with other interests in the environment. The minor provides the opportunity to apply the interdisciplinary study of environmental science across the curriculum. Specific issues addressed by courses in the minor include the conservation of biodiversity, government environmental policies, economic implications of public or private management of natural resources, ethical implications associated with human impacts on ecosystems, cultural responses to environmental change, and other environmental issues that face society in the new century. In order to declare a minor in environmental science, the student must meet with the environmental science program director.

The minor in environmental science consists of six courses requiring a C- or better: The six courses must be drawn from at least three different fields, with no more than three courses from any one field. No more than three courses may be double counted toward the student’s major and this minor. No more than one transfer (outside Trinity) credit may be applied to the minor. The requirements include:

*Although ENVS 286 is classified as a natural science elective for the purpose of this major and minor, the course does not satisfy the natural science distribution requirement of the College. ENVS 401 also does not satisfy the natural science distribution requirement.

Fall Term

Spring Term