ENVS Topics Courses for Fall 2019

Environmental Studies Topics Courses*
Fall 2019


*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.


ENVS 291 Options:


ENVS 291 Topic: E-Portfolio
Instructor: Dr. Rodney Dyer, rjdyer@vcu.edu
Credits: 1
Online course
Section 001 CRN 39024

Recommended Prerequisites: None.

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.  More information coming soon!


ENVS 291 Earth Systems Modeling
Instructor: Dr. Vickie Connors, vsconnors@vcu.edu
Credits: 1

Option 1
Section 002 39106
Fridays 9-9:50am

Option 2
Section 003 CRN 39133
Tuesdays 9-9:50pm

Option 3
Section 004 CRN 39135
Wednesdays 9-9:50pm

Course Description: An introduction to the modeling of dynamical processes of major systems that drive planet Earth. The geosphere, hydrosphere, atmosphere, and changing climate are examined as dynamic and interdependent systems by computer modeling. A field trip to the VCU Rice Rivers Center will provide a range of field activities to explore a few components of the earth system.

Recommended co-requisite: ENVS 201.  However, this course can also function as a stand alone lab.

Important Note: Those of you who completed ENVS 201 before 2019 should not take this lab (the lab was included as part of the ENVS 201 class at that time- this is changing for fall 2019).


ENVS 391 Options:


ENVS 391 Applications of Conservation Science
Instructor: Dr. Lesley Bulluck, lpbulluck@vcu.edu
Credits: 3
Section 001 CRN 39139
Monday/ Wednesday 2:00-3:15pm

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 and BIOL 317


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

Section 004 CRN 39442
Monday/ Wednesday/ Friday 11:00-11:50am

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 391 Topic: Vector and Pest Management for Environmental and Health Professional

Instructor: Charles Wesley Robertson, rob106@henrico.us
Credits: 3
Section 901 CRN 39032
Tuesday/ Thursday 5:00-6:15pm

Course Description: Growing human populations have resulted in significant increases in exposure to arthropod-borne pathogens. As contact increases and arthropod vectors become more adaptive to human environments researchers, abatement professionals, policy makers, and public health professionals need a firm understanding of arthropod vector biology, ecology and control. This course will begin with an introduction to arthropod biology and diversity. The focus will then shift to pathogen recognition and how the environment influences hosts, vectors, transmission and control. The course concludes with a review of current arthropod-vector control methodologies and how their application varies geographically.

Some of the questions which will be addressed include: What are the major arthropod vectors globally, regionally, and locally? Why do epidemics occur where and when they do? Why some pathogens, such as Zika re-emerge? What are some of the control strategies currently being used by professionals to manage major vector, pest, and pathogen populations? What is the likelihood of new approaches being developed to solve human-vector-pathogen relationships?

Learning Objectives:

  • Define, identify, and compare arthropod vectors

  • Recognize major vectors and pathogens involved in environmentally relevant transmission cycles

  • Discuss the presence, transmission, ecology, and impact of arthropod borne pathogens

  • Explain why outbreaks of major disease continue to occur in the modern world

  • Introduce insecticides and control methods

  • Compare control methods and how they relate to the reduction of vector-borne disease

  • Explain, develop, and analyze Integrated Pest Management Plans

Textbook: Pest and Vector Control by H.F. Van Emden, 1st edition
Note: Text is recommended as a reference but not required

Recommended Prerequisites: None, but students will find introductory biology and/or entomology useful.


ENVS 391 Water
Instructor: Dr. Paul Bukaveckas, pabukaveckas@vcu.edu
Credits: 3
Section 902 CRN 39228
Monday/Wednesday 4:00-5:15pm

Course description: Water provides an in depth view of biogeochemical processes occurring in inland (streams, lakes, rivers) and marine (estuaries, ocean) waters.  Topics to be covered include hydrology, hydrodynamics, underwater optics, aquatic chemistry and water pollution.

Recommended Prerequisites: BIOL 317


ENVS 491 Options:


ENVS 491 Topic: Applied Raptor Ecology*
Instructor: Dr. Cathy Viverette, cbvivere@vcu.edu
Credits: 3
Section 002 CRN 37652
Monday/Wednesday 9:30-10:45 am

Course Description: Raptors–such as eagles, ospreys, kites, hawks, harriers, vultures, and falcons–are recognizable to most people even if not familiar with birds otherwise.  Derived from the Latin ‘raptus’ meaning to seize or carry off, the term raptor refers to a suite of relatively large, long-lived avian species with similar biological characteristics–such as sharp beaks and powerful talons–but diverse evolutionary histories.  ‘Raptus’ is also the origin of the adjective ‘rapt’, to be engrossed or spellbound, which is appropriate since fascination with raptors has given rise to a rich body of art, literature, and scientific research.  Historically often misunderstood and persecuted due to their predatory nature, raptor populations have more recently been subject to a range of anthropomorphic pressures from biocides to habitat loss.  Population declines in a number of iconic species (e.g. Bald Eagle and Peregrine Falcon) during the mid-twentieth century led to active management of raptors in North America spurring research and conservation programs resulting in copious datasets on abundance, distribution, and habitat associations.

In this course we will explore raptor biology, ecology, and conservation concentrating on diurnal birds of prey commonly seen the Mid-Atlantic region.  Through lectures, readings of the technical literature, field trips, and individual or group projects, students will learn field techniques and quantitative analyses commonly used in raptor research.  Participation in two weekend field trips are required.

Recommended Prerequisites: BIOL 317 and an upper level statistics course (STAT 314, ENVS 491 Environmental Applications of Statistics, STAT 543, ENVS 543, BIOS 543, or ENVS 591 Applied Environmental Statistics)

*This course can count as capstone (can sub in for ENVS 490 requirement for major) 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.


ENVS 491 Invasive Species Management in Urban Parks*
Instructor: Anne Wright, abwright@vcu.edu
C
redits: 3
Section 003 CRN 37757
Fridays 2:00-4:40pm

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: none

*This course can count as capstone (can sub in for ENVS 490 requirement for major) 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.


ENVS 491 Water Permitting & Policy
Instructor: Jonet Prevost-White, jprevostwhite@vcu.edu
Credits: 3
Section 901 CRN 37663
Tuesday/ Thursday 7:00-8:30pm

Course Description: LID, BMP, CSO, VSMP, NPDES…Stormwater has a language all its own and navigating a new project can be confusing. This class is an intro to stormwater permitting and the basic understanding of how water quality is an integral part of urban development. The course will explore the basic concepts of water quality, stormwater and Chesapeake Bay regulations, floodplain areas, zoning and planning requirements, and the permitting process. Discussions will include understanding the impacts of human habits, the built environment, industry and government on water quality. Through focused study on existing case studies and site visits to projects, students will learn what it takes to move conceptual water quality ideas through regulations, permitting to a finished built structure. Students will be required to choose an appropriate site location, create a conceptual water quality project, determine an appropriate water quality practice, and a compile a plan package for permit review.

Recommended Prerequisites: none


ENVS 591 Options:


ENVS 591 Topic: Stella Models for Earth System Science
Instructor: Dr. Vickie Connors, vsconnors@vcu.edu
Credits: 3
Section 001 CRN 22061
Wednesdays 1:00-1:50pm

Course Description: Students in this course will TA for Dr. Connors’ ENVS 291 course. Enrollment will be done by override.  This is only a course option for graduate students only.


ENVS 591 Topic: Applied Landscape Ecology*
Instructor: Dr. Lesley Bulluck, lpbulluck@vcu.edu
Credits: 3
Section 002 CRN 39566
Monday/ Wednesday 11:00am-12:15pm

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: A GIS course (ENVS 421, ENVS 521, or URSP 521) and BIOL 317

*This course can count as capstone (can sub in for ENVS 490 requirement for major) 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.


ENVS 591 Topic: Applied Wetlands Ecology*
Instructor: Dr. Ed Crawford, ercrawford@vcu.edu
Credits: 4
Section 004 CRN 39086
Monday/ Wednesday 11:30am-12:45pm & Wednesday 1:00-3:45pm

Course description:  Wetlands can be described as transitional ecosystems that represent continua between aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems and that have unique attributes not adequately covered by current ecological paradigms or by disciplines such as terrestrial or aquatic ecology.  This course will focus on the physical factors affecting wetlands (hydrogeomorphology, physiochemical environment) and examine how the microbes, plants and animals adapted to wetland habitats exert cybernetic control of ecosystem structure and function.  Wetland functions will be investigated at local, landscape and global scales.  Students will acquire skill with analytical techniques used in the “lab” and in “field-based applications” for purposes of identifying and delineating wetland ecosystems.

Recommended Prerequisite: BIOL 317

*This course can count as capstone (can sub in for ENVS 490 requirement for major) 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


ENVS 591 Topic: Environmental Engineering
Instructor: Dr. Timothy Kelly, tmkelly2@vcu.edu
Credits: 3
Section 901 CRN 33310
Mondays 7:00-9:40pm

Course Description: This course has been developed as an introductory course to address environmental engineering topics such as legal issues, hydrology, water/wastewater treatment, air pollution, and solid and hazardous waste management. We will introduce the background scientific principles, analytical tools, and engineering operations applied in the field. Mass/material balances, environmental chemistry, waste management techniques and other scientific approaches will be studied. These concepts and analysis tools along with engineering principles will be applied to the study of hydrology, water, wastewater, solid waste, hazardous waste and air quality pollution and control. After taking the course, the students will be able to define and identify the environmental issues and legal aspects of the profession; understand the concept of hydrology and hydrologic cycle; concepts of water and wastewater quality assessment, monitoring, and treatment; concepts and principles of design and operations of water supply and wastewater drainage systems; air pollution and process of water quality management and pollutant transport; define and characterize solid and hazardous wastes (and their regulations); and, understand the concept of solid and hazardous waste management, processing, minimizing, separation at the source, recycling, reuse, universal waste management and recycling, and their environmental impacts.

Recommended Prerequisites: This course is recommended for graduate students as well as undergrads who have completed MATH 151 and CHEM 102.


NEW!  ENVS 591 Topic: Hydrogeology
Instructor: Dr. Timothy Kelly, tmkelly2@vcu.edu
Credits: 3
Section 903 CRN 39949
Wednesdays 7:00-9:40pm

Course Description: Focuses on the fundamental concepts of groundwater flow and contaminant transport with an emphasis toward environmental issues such as waste disposal, surface water hydrology, groundwater hydrology and wells, environmental impacts and hydrogeological systems. Allows students to understand and interpret the basic environmental hydrogeologic characteristics of a site and to use that knowledge to provide an informed opinion on protection and remediation.

Recommended Prerequisites: This course is recommended for graduate students as well as undergrads who have completed MATH 151 and CHEM 102.


ENVS 591 Topic: Seminar in Sustainability Academics
Instructor: William Godfrey, wrgodfrey@vcu.edu
Credits: 3
Section 904 CRN 31158
Tuesday/ Thursday 5:30-6:30pm

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.  Please do not register for this course if you have not already completed ENVS 300 with a grade of A or B.  If you meet those qualifications, I recommend that you email Mr. Godfrey for more information prior to registering for the course.

Recommended Prerequisites: ENVS 300 (strictly enforced- you will be asked to drop this course if you do not meet this prerequisite requirement)


ENVS 591 Section CO1 Swiftwater Safety
Instructor: Joey Parent, parentaj@vcu.edu
Credits: 1
Section CO1 CRN 39446
Saturday, September 7th and Sunday, September 8th 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 September 7th and Sunday September 8th. 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 Fall 2019:

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

If you’d like to take POLI 386 Environmental Security in the fall, it is approved to count towards ENVS elective credits for the environmental studies major and minor.  SOCY 420 Environmental Racism is also approved, but has a SOCY 202 prerequisite that is strictly enforced.

ENVS 411 Oceanography (a major requirement for environmental studies) has been discontinued.  Current ENVS majors can substitute in an ENVS or approved/related elective for this requirement (Lindsay Freeman will submit the substitution waiver before you graduate).  Our suggested oceanography substitution is ENVS 391 Section 902 WATER.