ENVS Topics Courses for Spring 2021

Environmental Studies Topics Courses*
Spring 2021


*Please note that ENVS 291, 391, and 491 options are open to undergraduate students only, while ENVS 591 options are open to both undergrads (mostly geared towards junior/senior level students) and grad students.

View your spring 2021 registration date


ENVS 291 Options:


ENVS 291 Topic: Hydroponics Lab
Instructor: Dr. John Jones, jonesj39@vcu.edu
Credits: 1
Section 002 CRN 41183
Wednesdays 9:00-9:50am

Important Note: This lab follows a non-traditional structure in order to function during the COVID-19 pandemic.  Please read more about the course and request an override here.

Course Modality: Blended-asynchronous instruction

Course Description: In this lab, students will grow and harvest nutritionally dense vegetables using microgreen and hydroponic growing techniques. Harvested vegetables support the VCU Ram Pantry and other near-campus food pantries. Students will learn a combination of practical agronomic and project management skills, while deepening their understanding of nutrition and emergency food systems.

Recommended Prerequisites: none


ENVS 291 Topic: Healthy Food & Nutrition
Instructor: Dr. John Jones, jonesj39@vcu.edu
Credits: 1
Section 003 CRN 41184
Thursdays 9:30-10:45am

Course Modality: Face-to-face instruction

Course Description: This course helps students develop healthy personal food behaviors as they transition into their college experiences. Students will learn the basics of balanced diets, how to read nutritional labels, basic cooking techniques, and making healthy choices while on campus.

Recommended Prerequisites: None.  Although this course could benefit anyone, it is designed for first and second year students.


ENVS 391 Options:


ENVS 391 Story Mapping for Environmental Science
Instructor: Jennifer Ciminelli, s2jmcimi@vcu.edu
Credits: 1
Section 001 CRN 41630

Course Modality: Online-asynchronous instruction

Course Description: In this course, students will learn techniques to take traditional environmental scientific communication and weave interactive and engaging narratives aimed at providing more holistic and deeper experiences for the information consumer.  Students will learn how to think through this communication style and then leverage ArcGIS Online story mapping, web application and web mapping applications to deliver content to their audience.

Recommended Prerequisites: None, but students taking this course need to have working knowledge of computer basics.  Please email Ms. Ciminelli with questions about the course.


ENVS 391 Energy Policy: The transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy
Instructor: Dr. Brian Toibin, toibinbt@vcu.edu
Credits: 3

Section 002 CRN 42230

Course Modality: Online-asynchronous instruction

Course Description:  This course will survey the national and international policy decisions that are driving the current and future energy landscape. The course will examine policy decisions concerning the development of the major sources of energy; examine the environmental, social, and political implications of those decisions; and explore the policy factors moving the world towards a cleaner more renewable energy future.  Purchase of a textbook may be required.

Recommended Prerequisites: None.  This course is geared towards ENVS students who want a deeper dive into policy decisions driving much of the environmental debates.  It may also interest political science or sociology students who want to understand the drivers of this critical area of policy debate.


ENVS 491 Options:


ENVS 491 Topic: Avian Ecology & Conservation lecture & lab (CAPSTONE OPTION*)
Students interested in taking Avian Ecology & Conservation MUST register for the lecture (ENVS 491 Section 001) AND lab (ENVS 491 Section 002).
If you would like to take this lecture + lab, please register for ENVS Section 001 (lecture) on your assigned registration date and then email Lindsay Freeman at envsadvising@vcu.edu to request an override into ENVS 491 Section 002 (lab).
Instructor: Dr. Lesley Buluck, lpbulluck@vcu.edu
Credits: 4 (2 credit lecture + 2 credit lab)
Section 001 CRN 41181 and Section 002 CRN 41187
Wednesdays 10:00-11:50am (lecture) and Fridays 7:00-11:00am (lab)

Course Modality: Face-to-face instruction.  Meet in the Trani Life Sciences Building room 235 for the lecture and lab.

Course Description (for Section 001 lecture & Section 002 lab) This 4-credit course combines both lecture (ENVS 491 Section 001, 2 credits) and lab (ENVS 491 Section 002, 2 credits) material; students must enroll in both courses. The content of this course builds on a framework of ecological theory and conservation practice within the context of birds. We will use birds as examples, but the concepts covered are broadly applicable, and many of the skills gained in the lab will be transferable to other species of wildlife. Through lectures and discussions, we will cover topics such as population dynamics, dispersal/migration, effects of habitat alteration (e.g., fire, timber harvest, and fragmentation), climate change impacts, urban ecology, and species interactions. Lab sessions will focus on building skills in bird identification in the field as well as data analysis and interpretation (including citizen science data). We will meet in person on Wednesdays from 10-11:50am and on Fridays from 7-11am. We will often spend these early Friday mornings in the field.

Recommended Prerequisites (for lecture and lab sections): BIOL 317 and STAT 210 (or by instructor permission).

*This lecture/ lab combination can count as capstone if completed while you have senior standing.  If you are not a senior or have already completed an ENVS capstone course, it will count towards electives for the ENVS major/minor and towards VCU’s upper level credit requirement.

If you are on the 2018-2019 bulletin (or an earlier bulletin year) and want this class to count as your capstone, Lindsay can sub in this course for your ENVS 490 requirement on DegreeWorks.

If you are on the 2019-2020 or 2020-2021 bulletin and want this class to count as your capstone, you will also need to register for ENVS 499 capstone experience.   The credits for ENVS 491 will slot in towards your required ENVS electives, while registering for ENVS 499 indicates that you’ve fulfilled the capstone requirement.  An override will be required for ENVS 499- please email envsadvising@vcu.edu for an override into this course.


ENVS 491 Topic: Urban Ecology (CAPSTONE OPTION*)
Instructor: Dr. Cathy Viverette, cbvivere@vcu.edu
Credits: 3
Section 003 CRN 41253
Wednesdays 2:00-4:40pm

Course Modality: Hybrid-asynchronous instruction

Course Description: An interdisciplinary examination of problems and issues central to environmental studies. Each student will participate in a group research project focusing on urban forests and the ecosystem services urban trees provide. Students will collect data on existing urban forest cover by conducting tree inventories, mapping distribution, and estimating the economic value provided by trees on public land. In spring 2021, tree inventory work will occur primarily on the VCU campus. Additional inventory activities,and possible opportunities for tree planting, may occur in Richmond neighborhoods near campus and on the Southside of Richmond. Final project results and analysis will be provided to our community partners in the VCU Community Forest Program.  The course is scheduled from 2–4:40 on Wednesdays. Class lectures and group work will be conducted remotely via zoom or other remote platforms. Field activities will occur regularly at on campus locations throughout the semester, during the class period, and students should be prepared to work outside in a variety of weather conditions. Groups may have to meet and conduct additional field data collection outside of class in order to complete project deliverables. Field work opportunities mayalso occur at off campus locations. Students that participate in activities at off campus locations will have to arrange their own transportation.

Recommended Prerequisites: This course is primarily meant for students with junior or senior standing.

Students who completed ENVS 490 Research Seminar in Environmental Studies (taught by Dr. Viverette) during the spring 2019 semester should not take this course (ENVS 491 Urban Ecology is the same class). 

*This course can count as capstone if completed while you have senior standing.  If you are not a senior or have already completed an ENVS capstone course, it will count towards electives for the ENVS major/minor and towards VCU’s upper level credit requirement.

If you are on the 2018-2019 bulletin (or an earlier bulletin year) and want this class to count as your capstone, Lindsay can sub in this course for your ENVS 490 requirement on DegreeWorks.

If you are on the 2019-2020 or 2020-2021 bulletin and want this class to count as your capstone, you will also need to register for ENVS 499 capstone experience.   The credits for ENVS 491 will slot in towards your required ENVS electives, while registering for ENVS 499 indicates that you’ve fulfilled the capstone requirement.  An override will be required for ENVS 499- please email envsadvising@vcu.edu for an override into this course.


ENVS 491 Invasive Species Management in Urban Parks (CAPSTONE OPTION*)
Instructor: Dr. Ed Crawford, ercrawford@vcu.edu
C
redits: 3
Section 004 CRN 38362
Fridays 1:00-3:40pm

Course Modality: Face-to-face instruction

The James River Park System is an urban ‘wilderness’ park that is often described as the City of Richmond’s premier asset. It threads along a spectacular section of the James River rapids and encompasses a rich assortment of habitats and natural resources. But the 600+acre Park is in trouble. Long overlooked infestations of invasive vines, shrubs, and trees threaten the health and structure of the park’s forests and natural plant communities.

This course will introduce you to the innovative James River Park System Habitat Restoration Plan, a long-term plan to manage non-native invasive plants and restore natural areas within the park. In this course, you will work with the environmental professionals, park personnel, and community partners who established the Plan and developed the JRPS Invasive Plant Task Force tasked with implementing it. In this course, you will gain experience in: 1. identification and management of non-native invasive plant species and native species for re-introduction, 2. documentation and quantification of ongoing ecological restoration projects within the park, 3. identification and mapping of high quality habitats or species of special concern in the park, 4. collaborative work with park personnel and community partners to develop practices that balance land use, land management, and land maintenance, 5. developing and delivering surveys and outreach materials on invasives for homeowners, professional resource managers, and commercial nursery and landscape businesses. The ideas and experience you gain will be applicable to an emergent problem that is not just local but regional, national, and worldwide in scope.

Recommended Prerequisites: BIOL 152 is helpful, but not required for this course.   This course is meant for students with junior and senior standing.

*This course can count as capstone if completed while you have senior standing.  If you are not a senior or have already completed an ENVS capstone course, it will count towards electives for the ENVS major/minor and towards VCU’s upper level credit requirement.

If you are on the 2018-2019 bulletin (or an earlier bulletin year) and want this class to count as your capstone, Lindsay can sub in this course for your ENVS 490 requirement on DegreeWorks.

If you are on the 2019-2020 or 2020-2021 bulletin and want this class to count as your capstone, you will also need to register for ENVS 499 capstone experience.   The credits for ENVS 491 will slot in towards your required ENVS electives, while registering for ENVS 499 indicates that you’ve fulfilled the capstone requirement.  An override will be required for ENVS 499- please email envsadvising@vcu.edu for an override into this course.


ENVS 491 Food & Environment
Instructor: Dr. Steve McIninch, spmcinin@vcu.edu
Credits: 3
Section 005 CRN 38270
Monday/ Wednesdays 12:30-1:45pm

Course Modality: Online-synchronous instruction

Course Description: We all must eat. Growing, processing, cooking, and eating our food links us to our ecosystem more than any other act. . Global agriculture sustains us (and the other 7 billion people out there) but is also a major cause of many types of environmental degradation. Food and the Environment is a course directed at understanding the linkages between agricultural production and the environment. How is a degrading environment influencing the food supply and how does the food supply affect the environment.

Recommended Prerequisites: None


ENVS 491 Topic: Chesapeake Bay Restoration
Instructor: Joe Wood, woodjd@vcu.edu
Credits: 3
Section 902 CRN 41423
Fridays 4:00-6:40pm

Course Modality: Online-synchronous instruction

Course Description: This course will cover policy initiatives and restoration efforts directed towards protecting the Chesapeake Bay, particularly those focused in Virginia.  The course will cover the clean water act and how it has influenced these efforts, modeling tools, access datasets and will generally cover various professional careers that focus directly on these initiatives.  Students will be expected to use Excel but to manage data and develop conclusions.

Recommended Prerequisites: None


ENVS 591 Options:


ENVS 591 Topic: Environments & Policies of Urban Food Systems
Instructor: Dr. John Jones, jonesj39@vcu.edu
Credits: 3
Section 901 CRN 39524
Wednesdays 7:00-9:40pm

Course Modality: Face-to-face instruction

Course Description: This course examines how environments and public policies shape American urban food systems. Broadly defined, the elements of the urban food system include the production/cultivation, distribution, preparation, consumption, and waste management of food products utilized by humans in urban spaces for nourishment and/or pleasure. Entrenched environmental, social, economic, political, and bureaucratic factors underpin this system. To explore these factors, this course employs a variety of interdisciplinary lenses, including: environmental studies; public administration; public health and nutrition; urban planning; political science; and sociology. This course will include field-based service-learning opportunities in the greater Richmond region through several off-campus site visits.

Recommended Prerequisites: None


ENVS 591 Topic: Environmental Regulation
Instructor: Bud Watson, jmwatson2@vcu.edu
Credits: 3
Section 902 CRN 34893
Thursdays 7:00-9:40pm

Course Modality: Face-to-face instruction

Course Description: This course is designed to complement ENVS 660, Environmental Law, for graduate students to provide an extensive introduction to environmental regulation, the working element of most environmental agency activity. It also functions as a stand-alone introductory course on the use of environmental regulations for environmental management for both undergraduate and graduate students. The course takes advantage of the presence of federal, state, and local environmental agencies in the Richmond area to provide interaction between agency professionals and students for both educational and work opportunities. Thus, the course is also designed to prepare graduates for professional work in environmental compliance and permitting.

Recommended Prerequisites: none


ENVS 591 Topic: Geospatial Data in R
Instructor: Dr. Rodney Dyer, rjdyer@vcu.edu
Credits: 3
Section 903 CRN 41188
Wednesdays 4:00-6:40pm

Course Modality: Online-synchronous instruction

Course Description: This is an introduction to creating, using, and manipulating geographically references data for environmental data analysis and planning using the R statistical language.  Topics include data maintenance, global positioning systems, vector and raster operations, spatial analysis, advanced visualization, and geographic data standards.

Recommended Prerequisites: Participants must have their own laptop.  Open to graduate students as well as undersgraduates who have successfully completed ENVS 343 Data Literacy or ENVS 543 Environmental Data Literacy (or by instructor permission).


ENVS 591 Topic: Air Pollution Control & Modeling
Instructor: Dr. Timothy Kelly, tmkelly2@vcu.edu
Credits: 3
Section 906 CRN 38797
Wednesdays 7:00-9:40pm

Course Modality: Online-synchronous instruction

Course Description:
Considering local and global air pollution problems and national requirements as well as international agreements on pollution control, students will be able to determine necessary emission reductions to prevent harm to occur to human health, welfare, and climate. By the end of the course through lectures, problem solving in supervised class meetings, readings, presentations, and exams, the students will have demonstrated skills to formulate and solve often complex air pollution problems. Students will be able to develop and apply simple mathematical models to predict the atmospheric chemical transformation of pollutants as well as horizontal and vertical transport throughout the troposphere and stratosphere and exchange between the hemispheres. Students will become proficient to process, analyze, and interpret air pollution and meteorological data and to apply scientific methods and environmental engineering strategies that help to promote a more sustainable and healthy environment. Further, they will be able to discuss knowledge gaps that require more advanced studying and possibly future research. Their communication skills will improve through discussions and individual project presentations; and, they will obtain an appreciation for the complexity and importance of environmental engineering.

Recommended Prerequisites: None


ENVS 591 Section CO1 Swiftwater Safety
Instructor: Joey Parent, parentaj@vcu.edu
Credits: 1
Section CO1 CRN 40115
Saturday, April 24th and Sunday, April 25th, 2020, 8:00am-6:00pm

Students should be able to assist in maneuvering a guided paddle raft. Participants should be in good health and overall fitness, possess solid swimming ability, and be comfortable swimming in moving current during river drills. Participants should dress appropriately for weather and temperature and expect to be in the water for extended periods of time.

Course Modality: Hybrid-flexible synchronous instruction

Course Description: The River Safety and Rescue class teaches recognition and avoidance of common river hazards, execution of self-rescue techniques, and simple rescues of recreational paddlers in distress. Emphasis is placed both on personal safety and on simple, commonly used skills. Fundamental techniques for dealing with hazards that carry greater risks for both victim and rescuer, such as entrapments, and pins, also are also taught. This course is aimed at whitewater boaters interested in learning fundamental river rescue skills.

Important Note: This class will only meet on Saturday, April 24th and Sunday, April 25th.  Attendance to both days of the course is mandatory.  Failure to attend either day will result in a failing grade.

Essential Eligibility Criteria

This Course is open to all individuals who acknowledge the ability to perform the following essential eligibility criteria:

  • Breathe independently (i.e., not require medical devices to sustain breathing)
  • Independently maintain sealed airway passages while under water
  • Independently hold head upright without neck / head support
  • Manage personal care independently or with assistance of a companion
  • Manage personal mobility independently or with a reasonable amount of assistance
  • Follow instructions and effectively communicate independently or with assistance of a companion
  • Independently turn from face-down to face-up and remain floating face up while wearing a properly fitted life jacket
  • Get on / off or in / out of a paddlecraft independently or with a reasonable amount of assistance
  • Independently get out and from under a capsized paddlecraft
  • Remount or reenter the paddlecraft following deep water capsize independently or with a reasonable amount of assistance
  • Maintain a safe body position while attempting skills, activities and rescues listed in the appropriate Course Outline, and have the ability to recognize and identify to others when such efforts would be unsafe given your personal situation

ENVS 591 Topics: Teaching Practicum (for Teaching Assistants!)
Instructor: Dr. Rodney Dyer, rjdyer@vcu.edu
C
redits: 1, 2, or 3 (depending on what class you are a teaching assistant for)
There are three sections of this course.  If you are interested in TAing for ENVS 300, you need to request an override into ENVS 591 section 001 CRN 42180

Course Modality: Blended-asynchronous instruction

Recommended Prerequisites: For the three credit section of this course (undergrads TAing for ENVS 300), the prerequisite is ENVS 300 (strictly enforced- overrides will only be given to students who meet this requirement).

Course Description: The three credit section of Teaching Practicum (formally known as the Seminar in Sustainability Academics, or SemSA) is for students who desire a deeper understanding of sustainability issues and strategies and who feel the need to be able to communicate more convincingly about sustainability issues, challenges and practices. SemSA builds on sustainability issue literacy and activities introduced in the Sustainable Societies-James River Basin (SS-JRB) course (ENVS 300). SemSA students put their issue literacy and communication skills to work mentoring students in a SS-JRB class. By practicing varying methods of delivering and sharing information and types of learning activities in the lab-like environment of the SS-JRB classroom, SemSA students deepen their own issue knowledge and have the opportunity to practice management, mentoring and leadership skills. The goal of the SemSA course is to help equip motivated students to be knowledgeable, confident, effective sustainability leaders.

Important Note: Students in this course will be teaching assistants for Dr. Toibin’s ENVS 300 course.   If you completed ENVS 300 with a grade of A or B and are interested in being a teaching assistant for this course, please email Dr. Toibin for more information.  After he gives you permission to enroll in this section of ENVS 591, please contact Lindsay Freeman at envsadvising@vcu.edu to request an override.


Additional Course Information for Spring 2021:

To view additional ENVS course descriptions and prerequisite requirements (for non-topics courses), please click here.

ENVS 335 Environmental Geology (a major requirement for environmental studies students who entered VCU prior to fall 2020) has been discontinued.  Current ENVS majors can substitute in any upper level ENVS or approved/related elective for this requirement (Lindsay Freeman will submit the substitution waiver before you graduate).

ENVZ 335 Environmental Geology Lab (a major requirement for environmental studies students who entered VCU prior to fall 2020) has been discontinued.  It will be waived for all current students who haven’t yet completed it (Lindsay Freeman will submit the waiver before you graduate).

ENVS 411 Oceanography (a major requirement for environmental studies students who entered VCU prior to fall 2020) has been discontinued.  Current ENVS majors can substitute in any upper level ENVS or approved/related elective for this requirement (Lindsay Freeman will submit the substitution waiver before you graduate).  Our suggested oceanography substitution is ENVS 355 WATER, which is being taught during spring 2021.

Do you want to take multiple topics courses that share a course number (for instance, two different sections of ENVS 591)?  Please email Lindsay Freeman at envsadvising@vcu.edu to ask for a duplicate course override for that course number!

Are you a senior ENVS major looking for a capstone course for Spring 2021?  Here are your capstone options!

  • ENVS 314 Man & Environment- online/ synchronous option
  • ENVS 491 Invasive Species Management in Urban Parks- in person option
  • ENVS 491 Urban Ecology- hybrid/ asynchronous (partially in person) option
  • ENVS 491 Avian Ecology & Conservation (lecture + lab)- in person option
  • ENVS 492 Independent Study (this requires you to line up an ENVS-related independent study with a faculty member and talk to Lindsay ahead of time about paperwork and approval!)
  • ENVS 493 Internship (this requires you to line up an ENVS-related internship and talk to Lindsay ahead of time about paperwork and approval!)

After you register for a capstone course, please contact Lindsay Freeman at envsadvising@vcu.edu to request an override into ENVS 499 Capstone Experience (0 credits- this simply checks the “capstone box” on DegreeWorks if you are on the 2019-2020 or 2020-2021 bulletin for the ENVS major).  If you are on an older ENVS major bulletin (2018-2019 or earlier), you most likely don’t need to register for ENVS 499 (your capstone course will sub in for ENVS 490 on DegreeWorks instead), but check on this with Lindsay just in case!


VCU Updates on COVID-19

VCU COVID-19 Updates

Thank you for your patience and understanding as we figure out what the rest of the semester will look like for students.  As you probably know, changes are happening quickly and continuously.  I will do my best to update you on the changes that impact ENVS students the most. 

It is important for you to try to read all incoming emails from the university, but for extensive updates for Environmental Studies students I urge you to check this Google document each day.

Graduating in Spring 2020?

If you plan to graduate this spring, you must do the following:

 

  1. The graduation application will be available on eservices starting January 13th, 2020. You must apply to graduate by Friday, January 24th, 2019.
    If you have already discussed waivers/ substitutions for ENVS major requirements with Lindsay (for example, subbing in an ENVS elective for the discontinued ENVS 411) but they still need to be processed, she will take care of this by late January/ early February after seeing that you have applied to graduate. If you are waiting on transfer courses to come to VCU or still need to submit the HS foreign language waiver, please follow the instructions included below. You should apply to graduate on time even if you are waiting on issues like these to be resolved!
  2. If you are not 100% sure you are on track for graduation this spring, please email Lindsay Freeman (envsadvising@vcu.edu),  schedule an advising appointment, and/or come to ENVS walk in advising hours by January 17th (the last business day before the add/drop deadline for spring 2020) to make sure you are all set.  Remember, you must earn at least 120 total credits to graduate with any bachelor’s degree at VCU. At least 45 of these credits must be upper level.
    Regarding capstone:
    If you did not already complete a course that qualifies to count as a capstone during your senior year, you must do so this spring!  For those of you on 2018-2019 (or earlier) bulletin, I will sub in your capstone course for ENVS 490 on your DegreeWorks if you are taking a course other than ENVS 490 as your capstone.  Those of you who have switched to the 2019-2020 bulletin must take ENVS 499 Capstone Experience (0 credit placeholder “course”) in addition to your capstone elective in order for things to slot in correctly on your DegreeWorks.  Please email me ASAP if you need an override into ENVS 499!

To access the application to graduate:
Log into your MyVCU Portal.  Click on eServices–> Student–> Student Records–> Apply to Graduate.  If you are graduating with a double major, dual degree, or certificate (like the Certificate in Sustainable Innovation), please complete an application for each major.

Regarding transfer credits that haven’t been sent to VCU:
If you need to transfer any credits from other institutions to VCU (if you took a summer course at a community college, for example), please take care of this as soon as possible.  Transcripts should be sent to: VCU Transfer Center, 900 Park Avenue Box 842532, Richmond, VA 23284-2532. 

Regarding the VCU Life Sciences Foreign Language Requirement:
If you successfully completed three levels of one foreign language in high school, you qualify to have the VCU Life Sciences foreign language requirement waived.  Please go to this page and follow all instructions under the “High School Foreign Language Waiver Information” heading if you qualify for this waiver but your foreign language requirement has not yet been waived on DegreeWorks.


COVID-19 Update 3/23/20:

VCU Life Sciences will no longer be holding a departmental commencement ceremony for spring 2020 graduates. We will be inviting all spring and summer graduates to participate in our fall ceremony. Please see below for updated information from the VCU Commencement office:

“Because of the COVID-19 pandemic and based on guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other public health officials, the university’s Commencement exercises will no longer be held as planned on May 8-9. All 2020 graduates and their guests are now invited to participate in the university’s Commencement ceremony on Dec. 12, 2020. The university is planning additional opportunities to recognize May graduates and the individuals who supported our graduates through the years. More information is forthcoming.” 

For the latest information, graduating students and their guests are encouraged to visit the university’s COVID-19 website and VCU Health’s COVID-19 website, both available from the vcu.edu and vcuhealth.org homepages. For questions, please email UNIVevents@vcu.edu.

Q: Will the spread of the COVID-19 virus impact the university’s commencement exercises?

A: Because of the COVID-19 pandemic and based on guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other public health officials, the university’s Commencement exercises will no longer be held as planned on May 8-9. 

Q: Are the spring college and school ceremonies also cancelled?

A: Yes. This decision includes all school, college and special ceremonies. If there are any alternative plans to recognize graduates, they will be shared by the sponsoring school or office.

Q: How will the university celebrate May 2020 graduates?

A: All 2020 graduates and their guests are now invited to participate in the university’s Commencement ceremony on Dec. 12, 2020. The university is planning additional opportunities to recognize May graduates and the individuals who supported our graduates through the years. More information is forthcoming. 

Q: What details can be shared about the December Commencement ceremony?

A: Planned for Dec. 12, 2020, VCU Commencement will bring graduates from all schools and colleges together to celebrate their academic achievements. The biannual ceremony will feature the president of the university and a keynote speaker. More details about VCU Commencement and other school and college ceremonies will be forthcoming.

Q: Does the cancellation of Commencement exercises affect my degree conferral or diploma?

A: No. The cancellation of Commencement exercises will not affect degree conferral or diploma for graduating students. The official conferral date for May 2020 degrees is May 16. Degrees will post to your record on Tuesday, May 26. Degrees will not appear on academic transcripts until this date. Degrees will only show for those students who have satisfied all degree requirements and receive final approval. Students should check their academic transcript via eServices to ensure your degree has been posted before requesting official transcripts. 

Diplomas will be mailed beginning June 22, to the address provided during graduation checkout. To receive your diploma, you must meet all financial obligations to the university. Diplomas will not be released for those students who have not met their financial obligations. Please contact the Office of Records and Registration at (804) 827-1673 or graduation@vcu.edu once those obligations have been met.

Q: Will students have the opportunity to order academic regalia (caps, gowns, hoods, cords, tassels, etc.)?

A: Students will be able to purchase their academic regalia and other Commencement items. The university is working with its partners to finalize details. More information is forthcoming. 



Spring 2020 Commencement is the weekend of Saturday, May 9th, 2020. 
Graduates have the opportunity to celebrate their achievement at two ceremonies: the university-wide ceremony and their school or department’s ceremony.  At departmental ceremonies, graduates will be recognized individually and will walk across the stage.  At the university-wide ceremony, graduates are recognized collectively by school, with the exception of Ph.D. and Ed.D. candidates, who will be recognized individually.

University-wide ceremony (please RSVP here by early May)
Saturday, May 9th, 2020 at 10:00 am
Greater Richmond Convention Center

VCU’s university-wide Commencement ceremony brings graduates from all schools and colleges together to celebrate their academic achievements. The annual ceremony features the president of the university. This event is open to the public. Tickets are not required and seating for guests is available on a first-come, first-served basis. Doors open at [TBD].

VCU Life Sciences Ceremony
Friday, May 8th, 2020 at 6:00pm (graduates must arrive by 5:30pm)
VCU W.E. Singleton Center for the Performing Arts, Concert Hall
922 Park Ave., Richmond, Va. 23284

Tickets may be required for guests.  If tickets are required, Amie Knapp (aknapp2@vcu.edu) will contact all pending graduates via email with more information about ticketing in April.

Please refer to the VCU Commencement Website for additional information (the website should be up to date by sometime in March). You may also contact the Graduation/ Degree Audits Office with questions at (804) 828-1917 from 8 am to 4:30 pm, Monday through Friday.

Spring 2020 Advising Updates


ENVS majors/minors: Please schedule advising meetings by clicking here.  Prospective ENVS majors/ minors should email envsadvising@vcu.edu to set up an appointment with Lindsay Freeman.

Walk in advising will begin on Tuesday, January 7th  Walk ins are first come, first served and are meant for quick advising check ins (10-15 mins).  If you need to meet for longer than 10 minutes, it is best to schedule a full advising appointment.  Walk in advising as well as advising appointments for ENVS majors are held in room 107 of the Trani Life Sciences Building.  The walk in schedule is posted below.

Spring classes start on January 13th, 2020

The last day to add or drop spring 2020 courses is Sunday, January 19th.

The last day to withdraw from spring 2020 courses is Friday, March 20th.  Read about withdrawals at VCU (including information about tuition refunds) here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Questions? Please email undergraduate academic advisor Lindsay Freeman at envsadvising@vcu.edu.

New class for spring 2018: ENVS 491 Landscape Ecology

The Center for Environmental Studies will be offering a new ENVS 491 topics course during the spring 2018 semester- Landscape Ecology.  This course is open to ENVS majors and minors and has no prerequisites.

  • For ENVS minors, this course will count towards your 12 required credits of ENVS electives.
  • For ENVS majors, this course can count as your ENVS elective, sub in for LFSC 301, or sub in for POLI/SOCY 320.  If you have already me these major requirements, this course will slot in as an extra ENVS elective and count towards your overall and upper level credit requirement for the bachelor’s degree.
  • For those of you who don’t know, ENVS 491 and ENVS 591 are “topics courses”.  Each section of the course is a completely different class and topic.  If you’d like to take this class, you should look for ENVS 491 section 002.

The class will be taught by Dr. Simon Bird, who comes to us from Columbia University, and will meet on Tuesdays/Thursdays from 12:30- 1:45pm.  The class has no prerequisites and the course outline can be found here.

Spring 2018 registration info

The Spring 2018 schedule of classes will be available to view on eservices on Monday, October 16th. Your registration date is based on your earned credit amount (unless you have early registration for any reason).

Your registration date can be found here, or you can refer to this Spring 2018 advance registration document.  Registration always begins at 8:00 am.  Please mark your calendar with your registration date and schedule an advising appointment before then to plan your spring 2018 schedule!  It is especially vital to meet with me (or at least email me) prior to registration if you are planning to graduate sometime in 2018 so we can go over your remaining course requirements in detail.

Very important: If possible, please register for classes on your registration date.  If you procrastinate on this, there is a good chance that the classes you originally planned to take will fill up before you’re able to register for them.  Depending on your remaining degree requirements, failing to register on time could postpone your graduation date.

Thinking about changing your major or adding a minor? I am happy to meet with you to discuss your decision and offer suggestions, but please let me know of your new major/minor plans ASAP so I can connect you with an advisor from the department you’re interested in switching to.

Do you have a hold on your record?  If you currently have a hold and it is not removed from your account prior to your registration date, you will not be able to register for classes on time.  To check for holds: log onto your MyVCU Portal.  Go to eservices–>student–> student records–>view holds.  To get a hold removed, contact the department who placed the hold on your account and take the necessary steps to have it removed.  Please note that I do not personally have the authority to put a hold on your record or to remove a hold from your account.

Some additional tips about registration & advising appointments:

  • If you have transfer or AP credits that have not been sent to VCU, I recommend that you get this done ASAP.  Email me if you have questions about this.  The more earned credits you have on your VCU transcript, the earlier your registration date will be.
  • It’s best to meet with me just a few days before your registration date so we can get a realistic idea of which classes will be available to you on the day you register.  You don’t want to count on adding a particular class only to have it fill up before your registration date.  If you also need to meet to discuss a fall course withdrawal (deadline is Friday, Nov. 3rd), you may want to schedule two separate appointments!
  • Try to schedule an appointment well in advance (approximately 2-3 weeks before you plan to meet with me), as my schedule fills up quickly during registration periods and around the withdrawal deadline.
    For example, if your registration date is November 13th, you should plan to meet with me by November 10th and should aim to reserve the appointment by mid/late October.
  • If your registration date arrives and you haven’t yet met with me, make an educated guess about what classes you should take next semester and register for them immediately.  Try to email me, schedule an appointment, or come to walk in hours soon after that so I can check to see if any changes need to be made to your schedule.  It’s best to register for as many classes as possible (maximum= 19 credits) at first and edit later.  You have until Monday, January 22nd, 2018 to make changes to your spring schedule.  Please note that if you are on academic probation you will only be able to register for 13 credits and if you are on academic warning you will be able to register for a maximum of 14 credits.  
  • Please make an appointment using this link.  Do not email me for an appointment unless you aren’t able to schedule an appointment online or need to meet with me during a time when I am normally not available.
  • You can make appointments for 15, 30, 45, or 60 minutes depending on your needs.  Please try to be realistic about how much time is needed (if you make a 15 min appointment, I cannot meet with you for 25 minutes).
  • Do your best to show up for your scheduled appointment on time and with prepared questions.  I completely understand that “no shows” and late cancellations are sometimes unavoidable, but please realize that failing to show up for an appointment during a busy time of year means that another student missed out on meeting with me during that time.  If you know ahead of time that you won’t be able to come to your appointment or will be late, a phone call (804-827-4218) or email is appreciated.
  • You are always welcome to come to my walk in hours (Wednesdays 1-3pm and Thursdays 2-4pm), but be aware that walk ins are meant for quick, 5-10 minute check ins.  If you need to meet with me for more than 15 minutes, schedule a full appointment.
  • If you don’t remember how to register for classes, please let me know before your registration date so we can go over this in person.

Withdrawal Information & Deadline- Fall 2017

The last day to withdraw from fall 2017 classes is Friday, November 3rd.

If you are not doing well in one or more of your courses but would like to avoid a withdrawal, I recommend that you visit the Campus Learning Center as soon as possible for academic coachingtutoring, and SI sessions if you aren’t already doing so- especially for math, chemistry, and biology courses.  The Writing Center is another helpful VCU resource.

Please follow the instructions below if you are thinking about withdrawing from a class:

1. Before withdrawing from a class you are doing poorly in, you should read your course syllabus carefully and talk to your instructor about the situation- maybe there’s still a chance you can pull up your grade.  You should also read more about VCU’s withdrawal policy on this page.

If withdrawing from a course will drop you down to “part time” status (below 12 credits) and you have financial aid concerns related to the withdrawal, please speak to a representative in the Student Services Center about this (go in person rather than emailing/calling if possible).  I do not have access to your Financial Aid information.

2. Check to see if there is a hold on your record.
To check for holds on your account, log on to eservices.  Go to Student→ Student Account→ View holds.  Look under the “processes affected” column on that page.  If “registration” will be affected, follow the “if you do have a hold on your record” instructions below to withdraw from a class.

  • If you do not have a hold on your record, you can withdraw from classes through eservices until 11:59pm on Friday, November 3rd.To web withdraw from a class, go to Student→ Registration→ Add or drop classes.  Select Fall 2017→ find the course(s) and select “Web Withdraw” on the drop down menu next to the course(s) you want to withdraw from.  Scroll down on the page and click “submit changes”.  Remember to double check your schedule afterwards and make 100% sure that you successfully withdrew from the course!
  • If you do have a hold on your record, you must go to the Student Services Desk in Harris Hall and ask someone at the desk to withdraw you from the class(es) of your choice. This must be taken care of before 4:30pm on November 3rd (sooner is better!).

3. If for some reason you miss the withdrawal deadline, email me immediately.  I may or may not be able to help, but the sooner you let me know about the mistake, the better.

Finally, please come meet with me to discuss a potential withdrawal, especially if it will affect your progress within the environmental studies major.  You can make an appointment here or come to my walk in hours, which are held on Wednesdays from 1-3pm and Thursdays from 2-4pm.   I will also be holding special walk in hours for withdrawal concerns on Friday, Nov. 3rd from 10am-noon and 1-3:30pm.  I am located in room 107 of the Trani Life Sciences Building.

Student Orgs for ENVS Majors & Minors

This page is under construction- Please stay tuned for updated student orgs and links


Please consider joining one or more of the following VCU Student Organizations this year!

Society for Ecological Restoration (SER) at VCU

Green Unity at VCU

Environmental Coalition at VCU

Epsilon Eta (NEW for fall 2020! A professional and honor fraternity at VCU that is specifically environmentally focused)

0-Waste RVA

109 World at VCU

The Wildlife Journal Club

ECO Fashion

USGBC-GV, VCU Chapter

ETC: Environmental Technology and Collaboration

Sustainability, Accessibility, and Partnership (SAP)

Non-VCU Organizations in Richmond:

Environment Virginia

James River Association

Richmond Audubon Society

Sierra Club- Falls of the James Group

Virginia League of Conservation Voters

Virginia Outdoors Foundation