Rodney J. Dyer, Ph.D.
James R. Vonesh, Ph.D.
Stephen P. McIninch, Ph.D.
Director for graduate studies
The undergraduate and graduate programs in environmental studies are interdisciplinary in nature, exposing students to the critical links between the areas of environmental life sciences, technology and policy.
At the undergraduate level, students gain the necessary skills for entry-level field and research positions. Class lectures and guest speakers introduce the importance of policy-making and awareness in the environmental field, while laboratory and internship experiences provide a working knowledge of the latest in environmental technology and field practices.
The graduate programs provide two options for students to further their studies in the environmental life sciences. The Master of Science in Environmental Studies is a thesis-based program designed for those individuals interested pursuing research in the environmental field. The Master of Environmental Studies (the non-thesis program) is a terminal, two-year professional degree for individuals working in the private/public sector of the environmental field.
ENVS 103. Environmental Science. 4 Hours.
Hybrid semester course taught mostly online; 3 lecture and 2 laboratory hours. 4 credits. Online presentations, assignments, debates and exams require students to understand situations and ideas that involve scientific, social and economic concepts associated with Earth’s environment. Laboratory exercises reinforce major course concepts. Integrates aspects of biology, chemistry, geology, physics and sociology. Topics include ecology, evolution, natural resources, air and water resources, energy and recycling, population biology, and sustainable global societies. Not applicable as a prerequisite for any biology course at the 200 level or above, nor for credit toward the B.S. in Biology. Crosslisted as: BIOL 103.
ENVS 105. Physical Geology. 3 Hours.
Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. A descriptive approach to physical geology dealing with the history and structure of the earth, catastrophic events and geology as it relates to the contemporary environment. An optional laboratory, ENVZ 105, may be taken with this course.
ENVS 201. Earth System Science. 3 Hours.
Semester course; 2 lecture and 2 laboratory hours. 3 credits. An introduction to the processes of and linkages among the major systems that drive planet Earth. The biosphere, geosphere, hydrosphere, atmosphere and sociosphere are presented as dynamic and interdependent systems. Labs/discussion sections will include both computer modeling of integrated systems and lab activities/field trip(s) at the Rice Center for Environmental Life Sciences.
ENVS 300. Sustainable Societies: James River Basin. 3 Hours.
Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. This course explores the 25 most critical social, economic and environmental issues in the region in a global context. It examines how people are tackling the issues of sustainably and turning them into opportunities.
ENVS 301. Introduction to Meteorology. 3 Hours.
Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. An introductory course designed to provide the student with an overview of the structures and processes that cause weather. These include atmospheric circulations and the weather patterns that we observe. Emphasis will be placed upon the tracking and display of weather phenomena, as well as their forecast movement and impact.
ENVS 310. Introduction to Oceanography. 3 Hours.
Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. An introductory course designed to provide the student with an overview of the structures and processes of the world's oceans. These include the systems that impact the oceans: the hydrosphere, the atmosphere, the geosphere, the biosphere and the sociosphere. Emphasis will be placed upon hands-on techniques for understanding these systems, including online simulations and in-class activities.
ENVS 311. Politics of the Environment. 3 Hours.
Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. An exploration of the current controversy about environmental politics and the issues and crises it centers on. Special attention will be given to the constitutional, political and geographical factors in the development of environmental policy and the organized effort to deal with governmental actions and inaction and its impact on policy outcomes. Crosslisted as: POLI 311.
ENVS 314. Man and Environment. 3 Hours.
Semester course. 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. A comparative study of the ecology and natural history of human populations, including the environments as determining factors in the evolution of human institutions and technology, resources management, and population crises; cultural traditions as mechanisms of population control; basic theory of population biology. Crosslisted as: INTL 314.
ENVS 315. Energy and the Environment. 3 Hours.
Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. Enrollment restricted to non-physics majors with junior or senior standing; not applicable to the physics major. A study of society's demands for energy, how it is currently being met, the environmental consequences thereof and some discussion of alternatives. Crosslisted as: PHYS 315.
ENVS 330. Environmental Pollution. 3 Hours.
Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. Prerequisites: eight credits in biology. The study of pollution in the environment with emphasis on the procedures for detection and abatement. Crosslisted as: BIOL 332.
ENVS 332. Environmental Management. 3 Hours.
Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. Prerequisite: URSP 204. An interdisciplinary review of domestic and international environmental problems and their underlying causes, current management frameworks, alternative management approaches and strategies, and barriers to their implementation. Other topics include: environmental history and economics, population growth, natural resources use, biodiversity, pollution. Crosslisted as: URSP 332.
ENVS 335. Environmental Geology. 3 Hours.
Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. Prerequisite: ENVS 105 or URSP 204. The relationship between humankind and the physical environment, earth materials and processes, geological hazards, water, mineral and energy resources, land use, and environmental health and law.
ENVS 368. Nature Writing. 3 Hours.
Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. Prerequisite: ENGL 201, 202, 203, 204, 205, 206, 211, 215, 236, 291 or 295. A study of the literary genre of nature writing in English. Crosslisted as: ENGL 368.
ENVS 401. Meteorology and Climatology. 3 Hours.
Semester course; 3 lecture hours. Prerequisite: PHYS 201 or PHYS 207. A basic, semiquantitative course in the elements of weather and climate, their driving forces and their spatial and temporal distribution and variability. Atmospheric motions and circulation, weather forecasting, human impact on weather and climate.
ENVS 411. Oceanography. 3 Hours.
Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. Prerequisites: BIOL 151, BIOL 152 and CHEM 102. A basic course in the physical, chemical and geological properties of oceans and ocean basins. Origin and character of ocean basins, properties of oceanic waters, oceanic circulation, land-sea interactions, marine environments and ecology.
ENVS 421. Environmental Data Visualization. 3 Hours.
Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. Prerequisite: STAT 314. This is an introductory course in using databases and geospatial technology. The course will introduce students to computer technology, project development and management skills, database management skills, and geospatial technology. Students will use in-class applied environmental analyses to guide skill-set development. The course will introduce the students to working with data in various formats and using the ArcGIS software suite to visualize the data. Students will be introduced to Microsoft Excel, Microsoft Access, ESRI ArcGIS software suite and ESRI ArcGIS Online.
ENVS 490. Research Seminar in Environmental Studies. 3 Hours.
Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. Prerequisites: senior standing and at least 12 hours of approved environmental studies course work. An interdisciplinary examination of problems and issues central to environmental studies. Environmental research of VCU faculty will be reviewed, and selected local environmental problems will be studied. Each student will complete a research project focusing on a specific environmental question.
ENVS 491. Topics in Environmental Studies. 1-4 Hours.
Semester course; 1-4 lecture hours. 1-4 credits. May be repeated with different topics for a maximum of 12 credits. An in-depth study of a selected environmental topic. See the Schedule of Classes for specific topics to be offered each semester and prerequisites.
ENVS 492. Independent Study. 1-3 Hours.
Semester course; variable hours. Variable credit. Maximum of 3 credits per semester; maximum total of 6 credits for all topics courses. Prerequisite: junior or senior standing, and permission of instructor.
ENVS 493. Environmental Studies Internship. 1-3 Hours.
Semester course; variable hours. 1-3 credits per semester. Maximum total of 6 credits. Prerequisite: junior or senior standing, and permission of instructor. Graded as pass/fail.
ENVS 499. Environmental Studies Capstone Experience. 0 Hours.
Semester course; variable hours. 0 credits. Corequisite: ENVS 490, ENVS 491 (when topics implement core competencies required for a capstone experience and are approved by the director of the Center for Environmental Studies), ENVS 492 or ENVS 493. Enrollment restricted to students who have completed 90 hours of undergraduate course work. Any of the corequisite courses qualify as a capstone experience if taken with this course. Graded as pass/fail.
LFSC 101. Academic and Career Options in Life Sciences. 1 Hour.
Semester course; 1 lecture hour. 1 credit. Students interested in the life sciences at VCU are faced with an enormous variety of academic options from bioinformatics and biomedical engineering to exercise science and nursing. Students outside of these programs have post-graduate opportunities in the life sciences, such as health care administration and government policy. This course will introduce students to an overview of all of the academic programs in life sciences available at VCU and their associated potential career options. Graded as pass/fail.
LFSC 251. Phage Discovery I. 2 Hours.
Semester course; 4 laboratory hours. 2 credits. Corequisite: BIOL 151 or 152. An exploratory laboratory where students will purify phage from soil, visualize phage using electron microscopy and isolate genomic material for nucleic acid sequencing. Registration by override only. Crosslisted as: BNFO 251.
LFSC 252. Phage Discovery II. 2 Hours.
Semester course; 4 laboratory hours. 2 credits. Corequisite: BIOL 151 or 152. An exploratory laboratory where students will learn about the genomes of viruses infecting bacteria. Students will be given the genome sequence of a novel virus, which will be the basis for a series of computer-based analyses to understand the biology of the virus and to compare it with other viruses that infect the same host. Registration by override only. Crosslisted as: BNFO 252.
LFSC 301. Integrative Life Sciences Research. 3 Hours.
Semester course; 2 lecture and 1 recitation hours. 3 credits. Pre- or corequisite: UNIV 200 or HONR 200. Students will leave this course knowing enough about science and the process of science to feel confident in critically evaluating scientific information and/or embarking on their own process of discovery with a faculty mentor. They will gain an appreciation of the interdisciplinary and complex nature of life sciences and will hone their critical thinking about how science interacts with and informs society.
LFSC 307. Community Solutions: Multiple Perspectives. 3 Hours.
Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. Prerequisite: PSYC 101. Explores possibilities for addressing social concerns of the Richmond community by understanding the complex nature of social issues as essential to their successful amelioration via perspectives of life and social sciences. Toward this end, expertise from the social sciences, the life sciences and the community are integrated. Includes a service-learning experience (a 20-hour volunteer requirement). Crosslisted as: PSYC 307.
LFSC 401. Faith and Life Sciences. 3 Hours.
Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. Prerequisite: UNIV 200 or HONR 200. Open to students of any school or program. Explores the complex relationships between faith traditions and the life sciences. Topics include epistemology, impact of life sciences on ideas of fate and responsibility, limits of science and technology, and scientific and religious perspectives on human origins, consciousness, aggression, forgiveness, health, illness and death. Crosslisted as: RELS 401.