Courses & Schedules

This capstone course focuses on the ideas and theories behind environmental restoration work and asks some critical questions about the field: where did the idea of restoration come from? What are the goals of environmental restorations, and how do you know if a project is meeting those goals? What do we mean by the terms "wilderness", "native", "diversity", and so forth? Do environmental mitigation projects really work? We will also look at several specific case studies through the semester.

A survey of great American environmental books, including H. D. Thoreau's Walden, John Muir's Mountains of California, and works by other environmental authors. The course considers the natural, political, cultural, and historical environment of the writers. Prerequisites: Junior- or senior-level standing.

This class starts with the idea that institutions of government are not a fixed inheritance but choices that are constantly being revised. The goal of the course is to sort out that assertion while providing a basic introduction to both American political institutions and major environmental issues. We will look at choices shaping the structure of governance and tools of environmental policy. Where are we heading in terms of democratic decision-making, responsibility, and accountability? How does the realm of international policy dovetail with national-level governance?

Review of environmental law and regulation in the United States generally and California in particular. Overview of federal and California legal systems with emphasis on their role in environmental protection. Evolution of environmental law in the United States, including property rights and environmental justice.

Use of and interactions with natural resources have transformed the American West over time, and greatly affected the western environment as we know it today. This seminar takes a historical look at the settlement, development, and management of the western landscape, both in terms of natural resources (timber, water, grazing, parks etc.) but also in terms of cultural settlement and use - and considers landscape as a tool for understanding the cultural/social/political history of a place. Students can expect to do some serious reading, writing, and thinking about how and why the West has become such a distinctive natural and cultural landscape. Open to juniors, seniors, and graduate students only or consent of instructor. Cross-listed as HIST 467.

Intensive study of selected topics related to Society, Environment, and Development. Topics vary from semester to semester. May be repeated for credit with consent of instructor.

This course explores major concepts of ecology and examines current environmental issues in light of these concepts. Topics include: relationship between organisms and the physical environment, community-level ecological processes, the structure and function of ecosystems and their distribution on the planet, evolutionary processes, and population ecology. Environmental issues include loss of biodiversity, global climate change, invasive species, and others. Development of speaking and writing skills is a significant element of the course. Field trip required.

Interdisciplinary investigation into biological, management, economic, and ethical issues associated with the current extinction of species. Course will cover principles and applications of ecology, population biology and genetics, biogeography, and social sciences for protection and management of biodiversity in the face of current widespread alteration of the environment. At least one field trip required.

Biogeography is the study of plant and animals distributions at local to global spatial scales, and seeks to understand the physical, biological and human processes that determine these patterns through time. This is a highly integrative field of inquiry, pulling on concepts, theories and data from general ecology, evolutionary biology, geology, physical and human geography, and geospatial science. With its perspective on broad spatial and temporal scales, Biogeography is particularly relevant for designing viable long-term strategies for nature conservation in the face of modern human-induced changes, such as global warming and habitat conversion. This course uses lectures, reading assignments and an individual student project to explore past and present biota at regional to global scales, and a field trip to understand our local northern California ecosystems.

Lecture, 3 hours; laboratory, 3 hours. Explores the relationships between surface processes such as weathering, mass movements, running water, wind, waves, and glacial ice, and the landforms these processes create. The course looks at geomorphic systems and the role of tectonics and climate in changing the balance of these systems. Actual research projects are presented to demonstrate geomorphic approaches to environmental questions. Students are exposed to research methods in the field and lab. Field trips and field reports, use of maps, and hands-on labs are included. A fee will be charged for this course.