ENVS Topics Courses for Spring 2020

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 2020 registration date


ENVS 291 Options:


ENVS 291 Topic: E-Portfolio
Instructor: Dr. Rodney Dyer, rjdyer@vcu.edu
Credits: 1
Online course
Section 001 CRN 39514

Course Description: Digital, or Electronic, Portfolios (hereafter ePortfolio) are a collection of content curated by you, the student, to provide evidence of academic and professional excellence.  Every student at VCU has the ability to design and deploy a portfolio using Rampages, which runs on WordPress.

The purpose of this class is to provide the overall basics of ePortfolio development as early in your academic career as possible so that when it comes time to develop your Resume for an internship or job opportunity, you have a wealth of content at your disposal.  Overall, ePortfolios for Environmental Studies serve the following three purposes.

  • Demonstrating the development of your skillset: As an Environmental Studies student, you will be developing skills in several domains including environmental policy, field and sampling techniques, applied environmental analyses, quantitative data analysis, data visualization, Geographic Information Systems (GIS), etc.  The portfolio serves to provide digital evidence of your skill development as you proceed through the degree program.
  • Assessment and self-reflection on your learning.
  • Showcase specific features of your expertise.

During the semester, this online-only course will help you develop your own digital academic portfolio.

Recommended Prerequisites: None.


ENVS 391 Options:


ENVS 391 Applications of Conservation Science
Instructor: Dr. Lesley Bulluck, lpbulluck@vcu.edu
Credits: 3
Section 001 CRN 39682
Tuesday/ Thursday 2:00-3:15pm New time! 12:30-1:45pm

Course Description:  Through readings, lectures, discussions, and analysis of ecological data, students will learn about current applications of conservation science and the importance of data/evidence in motivating effective conservation policy.  Students will gain an understanding of conservation priorities at a variety of different scales/perspectives from species and communities to landscapes and ecosystems as well as the importance of including the human dimension in effective conservation efforts.

Recommended Prerequisites: ENVS 311, BIOL 152, and a statistics course


ENVS 491 Options:


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

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 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 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: Urban Ecology (CAPSTONE OPTION*)
Instructor: Dr. Cathy Viverette, cbvivere@vcu.edu
Credits: 3
Section 901 CRN 39686
Wednesdays 4-6:40pm

Course Description: Coming soon!

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 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: Conservation Social Science
Instructor: Dr. Rene Valdez
Credits: 3
Section 902 CRN 39513
Monday/ Wednesdays 7-8:15pm

Course Description: Conservation social sciences include a diverse set of disciplines, ranging from environmental sociology, economics, and psychology to conservation education, communication, and marketing. These disciplines are united in the recognition that people are the drivers of both conservation problems and conservation solutions. Readings, discussions, and assignments in this course will focus on how conservation social science is implemented to better understand and develop solutions for conservation issues. We will focus on two of our greatest contemporary conservation issues, climate change and the biodiversity crisis. The class will co-produce research questions and be involved in a conservation social science research project to be conducted in the Richmond area.

Recommended Prerequisites: None


ENVS 591 Options:


ENVS 591 Topic: Advanced Spatial Analysis
Instructor: Jennifer Ciminelli, s2jmcimi@vcu.edu
Credits: 3
Section 002 CRN 39553
Wednesdays 9:00-11:30am

Course Description: This course will focus on the use of spatial tools to develop hydrologic models.  Students will use ArcGIS Pro, ArcGIS, and other software, to determine stream flow and basin morphology characteristics.  Students will learn to derive watersheds and conduct landscape assessments using the ArcGIS environment.  Students will learn about selection of proper input datasets and processing needed for data preparation, and the use of a variety of the Spatial Analyst toolset.  Students will finish the semester learning project management techniques to scope an analytical spatial project, then conduct a hydrologic modeling exercise based on a real world project.

Recommended Prerequisites: A graduate level GIS course (ENVS 521 or URSP 521)

View Course Syllabus: ENVS 591 Adv Spatial Analysis Syllabus


ENVS 591 Topic: Urban Food Systems
Instructor: Dr. John Jones
Credits: 3
Section 004 CRN 39524
Tuesday/ Thursdays 12:30-1:45pm

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: Completion of a GIS course (ENVS 421, ENVS 521, URSP 360, or URSP 521), as well as a research methods course is helpful, but not required for this course. This course is recommended for advanced undergraduate and graduate students.


ENVS 591 Topic: Water Pollution
Instructor: Dr. Paul Bukaveckas, pabukaveckas@vcu.edu
Credits: 3
Section 901 CRN 39731
Monday/ Wednesdays 4:00-5:15pm

Course description: The purpose of this course is to provide foundational knowledge in the area of water pollution and to develop skills in data analyses and scientific writing.  The course is designed to complement curricula in Biology and Environmental Studies and is specifically geared toward students with an interest in the water resources profession.  Students in the course will gain discipline-specific knowledge through lectures and readings while building skills in quantitative analyses, critical thinking and communication.

Recommended Prerequisite: For undergraduates, an advanced course in ecology or environmental studies (i.e. BIOL 317, ENVS 330/BIOL 332, ENVS 411, and/or ENVS 391 Water).


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

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: Seminar in Sustainability Academics
Instructor: William Godfrey, wrgodfrey@vcu.edu
Credits: 3
Section 904 CRN 29846
Tuesday/ Thursdays 6:15-7:30pm
Registration by override only!

Course Description:  The Seminar in Sustainability Academics (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 TA for Mr. Godfrey’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 Mr. Godfrey for more information.  After he gives you permission to enroll in his section of ENVS 591, please contact Lindsay Freeman for an override.

Recommended Prerequisites: ENVS 300 (strictly enforced- overrides will only be given to students who meet this requirement).


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 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 25th and Sunday, April 26th, 2020, 8:00am-5:00pm

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 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 25th and Sunday April 26th.  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

Additional Course Information for Spring 2020:

View your spring 2020 registration date.

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

ENVS 411 Oceanography (a major requirement for environmental studies) has been discontinued.  Current ENVS majors must substitute in any upper level ENVS or approved/related elective for this requirement (Lindsay Freeman will submit the substitution waiver before you graduate).

ENVS 335 Environmental Geology (a major requirement for environmental studies) has been discontinued.  Current ENVS majors must 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 will continue to be offered until at least Spring 2020.  If you are graduating in May 2020 and have have not yet taken this course, you must take it during the spring 2020 semester.

ENVS 490 Research Seminar in Environmental Studies (Capstone) will not be offered this spring.  If you need to take a capstone course this spring in order to graduate, please complete one of the following: ENVS 461 Wilderness Policy & Practice (winter break study abroad trip. course), ENVS 491 section 004, ENVS 491 section 901, ENVS 515 Tropical Avian Ecology (spring break study abroad trip/ course), ENVS 492 Independent Study, or ENVS 493 Internship.  If you have been switched to the 2019-2020 bulletin (or plan to switch), you will also need to be overridden into ENVS 499 Capstone Experience in order to get capstone credit- please contact Lindsay at envsadvising@vcu.edu if you need an override for this reason.