Environmental Science

Professor Morrison (Biology), Acting Director (fall); Professor Geiss (Physics), Director (spring); Environmental Science Coordinating Committee: Professors T. 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 and American Studies); Senior Lecturer and Laboratory Coordinator Gourley; Thomas McKenna Meredith ’48 Postdoctoral Fellow Douglass; Visiting Professor Harmon

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



Foundational
requirement (5)

BIOL 182L
CHEM 111L
ENVS 112L
MATH 207 or 128 or 131a
PHYS 101L or 141L or one natural
science gateway courseb

BIOL 182L
CHEM 111L
ENVS 112L
MATH 207 or 128 or 131
PHYS 101 or 141L or one natural
science gatewayb or social sciencec course

Core
requirement (4)

ENVS 149L
ENVS 275L
ENVS 401
Integrating experience

ENVS 149L
ENVS 275L
ENVS 401
Integrating experience

Concentration
requirement (2)

Any two courses:
ENVS 204L
ENVS 230L
BIOL 333L

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

Social sciences
requirement(2)

Two courses from the social
science/humanities course liste

Two courses from the social
science/humanities course liste

Other
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

15

15

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 grade of 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

[110. The Earth’s Climate]— The course will introduce students to techniques that quantify past and present climates and present a history of the earth’s climate throughout geologic time. We will discuss past and future climate change, its potential causes and effects on society. (GLB3) (Enrollment limited)

112. Introduction to Earth Science— The course will introduce students to the basic principles of geology, such as rock and mineral identification, the interpretation of the geological record, and the theory of plate tectonics. These principles will allow us to reconstruct the Earth’s history, to interpret sedimentary records in terms of environmental change, and to assess the impact of human activity on the Earth system. Additional topics include volcanoes and igneous rocks, sedimentary environments, the Earth’s climatic history, the formation of mountain ranges and continents, and an introduction to the Earth’s interior. Two one-day field trips focus on the local geology and the various rock types found within the state. (1.25 course credits) (GLB3) (Enrollment limited) –Gourley

275. Methods in Environmental Science— A field-oriented, problem-based course covering data collection and analysis methods commonly used to conduct environmental assessments and to solve environmental problems. This course includes methods for risk assessment, land management and land use history determination, habitat analysis, bio-monitoring, soil composition analysis, soil and water chemistry analysis, and GIS mapping. A strong emphasis is placed upon research design, data manipulation, and statistical analysis. As a culminating exercise, students in the course prepare a final report that integrates all the topics and techniques learned throughout the course and that addresses the focal problem. This course is not open to first year students without permission of instructor. This course has a community learning component. Prerequisite: C- or better in Environmental Science 149L. (1.25 course credits) (NAT) (Enrollment limited) –Douglass, Morrison

286. Theory and Application of Geographic Information Systems— A lecture/lab course that focuses on the theory and application of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) using the ESRI ArcGIS software package. ArcGIS is a powerful mapping tool that facilitates the compilation, analysis and presentation of spatial data for a wide variety of disciplines including the natural and social sciences and any other field that uses spatial data. This course will provide students with the fundamental skills needed to design and manage digital databases and map sets so that they may integrate GIS into future courses, research, or careers. Topics include basic and advanced navigation and functionality within the ArcGIS workspace; database management and querying; and methods of data acquisition for GIS project building. Class projects on lab computers will be an integral component of the course and will be tailored to the specific interests and goals of individual students. This course does not meet the natural science distribution requirement. (Enrollment limited) –Harmon

[303. Advanced topics in Geographic Information Systems]— This course applies spatial analysis techniques to a variety of topics in Urban Studies and Environmental Science. Prerequisite: ENVS 286 or instructor permission. Prerequisite: C- or better in Environmental Science 286 or permission of instructor (Enrollment limited)

399. Independent Study— Submission of the special registration form, available in the Registrar’s Office, and the approval of the instructor and director are required for enrollment. (0.5 course credit) –Staff

405. Internship in Environmental Science— This course allows students to meet the integrating experience requirement for the environmental science major through an approved integrated internship. Students who wish to use an internship toward the major must have their integrated internship contract approved by the Environmental Science Program director before the internship is begun. All students undertaking approved internships will be required to keep a detailed log of their activities, prepare a final written report and make an oral presentation of their work to the Environmental Science Program staff and students in order to complete the internship credit. (0.5 course credit) –Staff

419. Research in Environmental Science Library— Students will conduct library research projects under the direction of an individual staff member. Students electing this type of independent study should plan on a full semester culminating with the completion of a final formal paper. Submission of the special registration form, available in the Registrar’s Office, and the approval of the instructor are required for enrollment. (0.5 course credit) –Staff

425. Research in Environmental Science Laboratory— Students will conduct original laboratory research projects under the direction of an individual staff member. Students electing to pursue independent study of this type should plan on initiating the work no later than the fall of the senior year, and should also plan on no less than two semesters of study with a final formal report to be submitted to the staff. Submission of the special registration form, available in the Registrar’s Office, and approval of the instructor are required for enrollment. (0.5 course credit) –Staff

466. Teaching Assistantship— Submission of the special registration form, available in the Registrar’s Office, and the approval of the instructor are required for enrollment. (0.5 course credit) –Staff

497. Honors Research— An extended paper on the subject of the student’s two-semester research project with a professor in environmental science, to be read by three or more members of the program. This course is open only to those environmental science majors who wish to qualify for honors (See paragraph on honors in environmental science in the description of the major). Simultaneous enrollment in Environmental Science 419 or 425 during the spring semester of senior year, submission of the special registration form available in the Registrar’s Office, and approval of the instructor and director are required for enrollment. (0.5 course credit) –Staff

Courses Originating in Other Departments

Biology 333. Ecology— View course description in department listing on p. 303. Prerequisite: C- or better in Biology 182L, or permission of instructor. –Smedley

[History 219. Planet Earth: Past, Present and Future]— View course description in department listing on p. 526.

Spring Term

149. Introduction to Environmental Science— An introduction to interrelationships among the natural environment, humans, and the human environment, including the biological, social, economic, technological, and political aspects of current environmental challenges. This course focuses on building the scientific framework necessary to understand environmental issues. It explores the structure, function, and dynamics of ecosystems, interactions between living and physical systems, and how human enterprise affects natural systems. It also examines current issues regarding human impacts on environmental quality, including global warming, air and water pollution, agriculture, overpopulation, energy, and urbanization. The laboratory section, which complements lecture material, incorporates laboratory and field exercises that include a focus on Hartford and a nearby rural area. This course has a community learning component. (1.25 course credits) (GLB3) (Enrollment limited) –Geiss, Gourley

[204. Earth Systems Science]— Over recent centuries humans have evolved as the major agent of environmental change and are altering the global environment at a rate unprecedented in the Earth’s history. This course provides the scientific background necessary for knowledgeable discussions on global change and the human impact on the environment. The major processes that affect the geo- and biosphere, as well as connections and feedback loops, will be discussed. The course also explores techniques that enable us to reconstruct short and long-term environmental changes from geological archives. Particular emphasis will be placed on climatic stability on Earth, the effects of global warming, the human threat to biodiversity, and the depletion of the ozone layer. Prerequisite: C- or better in Environmental Science 112 and Mathematics 107 or higher. (1.25 course credits) (GLB3) (Enrollment limited)

220. Biological Invasions— The spread of biological organisms around the globe has increased dramatically over the past two centuries with growing human exploration and settlement. A few of these introduced species have become invasive and caused major environmental, economic and public health problems. This course will explore several issues related to a variety of invasive organisms, including: historical and human perceptions; the ecological process of invasion; characteristics of successful invaders and vulnerable ecosystems; and, regulation, prevention and management. Prerequisite: C- or better in Environmental Science 149, Biology 140 or Biology 182, or permission of instructor. (1.25 course credits) (NAT) (Enrollment limited) –Douglass

230. Environmental Chemistry— This course will cover basic chemical concepts, such as polarity, volatility, and solubility, as they relate to chemical behavior in the environment. The ability to predict environmental behavior from chemical structure will be emphasized. Human and environmental toxicology will be discussed, and specific pollutants will be examined. Case studies will be used to illustrate concepts. The laboratory will emphasize techniques used for environmental analysis. Prerequisite: C- or better in Chemistry 111L and 112L, or permission of instructor. (NAT) (Enrollment limited) –Krisch

230L. Environmental Chemistry Lab— This course will cover basic chemical concepts, such as polarity, volatility and solubility, as they relate to chemical behavior in the environment. The ability to predict environmental behavior from chemical structure will be emphasized. Human and environmental toxicology will be discussed, and specific pollutants will be examined. Case studies will be used to illustrate concepts. The laboratory will emphasize techniques used for environmental analysis. Prerequisite: C- or better in Chemistry 111L and 112L, or permission of instructor. (0.25 course credit) (Enrollment limited) –Krisch

[286. Theory and Application of Geographic Information Systems]— A lecture/lab course that focuses on the theory and application of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) using the ESRI ArcGIS software package. ArcGIS is a powerful mapping tool that facilitates the compilation, analysis and presentation of spatial data for a wide variety of disciplines including the natural and social sciences and any other field that uses spatial data. This course will provide students with the fundamental skills needed to design and manage digital databases and map sets so that they may integrate GIS into future courses, research, or careers. Topics include basic and advanced navigation and functionality within the ArcGIS workspace; database management and querying; and methods of data acquisition for GIS project building. Class projects on lab computers will be an integral component of the course and will be tailored to the specific interests and goals of individual students. This course does not meet the natural science distribution requirement. (Enrollment limited)

[303. Advanced topics in Geographic Information Systems]— This course applies spatial analysis techniques to a variety of topics in Urban Studies and Environmental Science. Prerequisite: ENVS 286 or instructor permission. Prerequisite: C- or better in Environmental Science 286 or permission of instructor (Enrollment limited)

305. Soil Science— After a brief introduction to the soil profile, its nomenclature and classification, the course will concentrate on the processes and factors that influence weathering and soil development. Topics to be covered include: physical and chemical weathering of rocks; the influences of parent material, topography, climate, and time on soil formation; and the relationships between soils and the biosphere. The remainder of the course will be taken up with the application of soils to geological and environmental problems. Two half-day field trips will familiarize students with the various soil types found in Connecticut. Prerequisite: C- or better in Environmental Science 112L (NAT) (Enrollment limited) –Geiss

350. Field Study in Environmental Science— This 10-12 day field trip to a particular region of the U.S. introduces Trinity students to field methods in the environmental sciences. Students will study the geology, ecology, and history of human impact on the region visited, which varies from year to year. Students will also gain experience in basic field sampling techniques, observational skills, field note-taking, and methods for data analysis and interpretation. Pre-trip readings and an oral presentation given during the trip are required. Camping throughout. Permission of instructor required. Does not count toward science distribution.. (0.5 course credit) –Staff

399. Independent Study— Submission of the special registration form, available in the Registrar’s Office, and the approval of the instructor and director are required for enrollment. (0.5 course credit) –Staff

401. Advanced Seminar in Environmental Science— This capstone seminar will engage students in the interdisciplinary study of a local environmental issue. The course will include interaction with community groups and government agencies, library research, and the collection and analysis of data to explore the connections between science, public policy, and social issues. This course does not meet the natural science distribution requirement. This course is open to senior environmental science majors and minors, and others by permission of instructor. (WEB) (Enrollment limited) –Gourley

405. Internship in Environmental Science— This course allows students to meet the integrating experience requirement for the environmental science major through an approved integrated internship. Students who wish to use an internship toward the major must have their integrated internship contract approved by the Environmental Science Program director before the internship is begun. All students undertaking approved internships will be required to keep a detailed log of their activities, prepare a final written report and make an oral presentation of their work to the Environmental Science Program staff and students in order to complete the internship credit. (0.5 course credit) –Staff

419. Research in Environmental Science Library— Students will conduct library research projects under the direction of an individual staff member. Students electing this type of independent study should plan on a full semester culminating with the completion of a final formal paper. Submission of the special registration form, available in the Registrar’s Office, and the approval of the instructor are required for enrollment. (0.5 course credit) –Staff

425. Research in Environmental Science Laboratory— Students will conduct original laboratory research projects under the direction of an individual staff member. Students electing to pursue independent study of this type should plan on initiating the work no later than the fall of the senior year, and should also plan on no less than two semesters of study with a final formal report to be submitted to the staff. Submission of the special registration form, available in the Registrar’s Office, and approval of the instructor are required for enrollment. (0.5 course credit) –Staff

466. Teaching Assistantship— Submission of the special registration form, available in the Registrar’s Office, and the approval of the instructor are required for enrollment. (0.5 course credit) –Staff

497. Honors Research— An extended paper on the subject of the student’s two-semester research project with a professor in environmental science, to be read by three or more members of the program. This course is open only to those environmental science majors who wish to qualify for honors (See paragraph on honors in environmental science in the description of the major). Simultaneous enrollment in Environmental Science 419 or 425 during the spring semester of senior year, submission of the special registration form available in the Registrar’s Office, and approval of the instructor and director are required for enrollment. (0.5 course credit) –Staff

Courses Originating in Other Departments

[Biology 463. Ecological Concepts and Methods]— View course description in department listing on p. 309. Prerequisite: C- or better in Biology 333L or Biology 222L, or Permission of Instructor.

Chemistry 230. Environmental Chemistry— View course description in department listing on p. 320. Prerequisite: C- or better in Chemistry 111L and 112L, or permission of instructor. –Krisch

History 219. Planet Earth: Past, Present and Future— View course description in department listing on p. 536. –Cocco, Kete, Wickman