Learning Pathways


Four students plant a tree on the KU Campus

Environmental systems, and our understanding of the problems and issues associated with them, are ever changing. The faculty members of our program change over time as well, in terms of their research interests and expertise. This affects what classes are offered, especially at the 300-500 level, which is the level at which you need to choose your electives for the major.
 

It is important to develop some level of specialization in interdisciplinary programs like ours, and that’s what your electives are for. Some programs require you to choose among a list of tracks in which you are forced to take a particular set of classes. We feel this does not allow enough exploration of emerging areas of environmental studies at KU. Students still need guidance, though, to find those areas and related classes, which is why we developed pathways in our major.
 

Pathways are thematic areas of environmental expertise of our faculty at KU, with a list of accompanying courses. If that area of environmental research sounds interesting to you, then look at the faculty associated with the pathway and arrange to meet them in their office hours to:

  1. Talk about the courses that are listed in the pathway, when they are offered, in what sequence you should take them, what prerequisites you may need.
  2. Talk about research opportunities for undergraduates in that pathway. If you have some aptitude for research, consider discussing with the faculty member   applying for an undergraduate research scholarship, completing independent study, or completing honors in the major by doing a senior thesis.
  3. Talk about potential career opportunities and internship possibilities the faculty member might know.

Description

This pathway is concentrated on understanding the biophysical nature of the climate system, and the biological and physical ramifications of climate change. This is done by focusing on the exchanges of energy and mass through the atmosphere, geosphere, cryosphere and biosphere. An appreciation is developed for the disparate temporal and spatial scales of these interactions as well as feedbacks within and between different components of the Earth system

Faculty

Nate Brunsell, Geography and Atmospheric Science - Lead Faculty Member, Climate Change Science
Dave Braaten, Geography and Atmospheric Science
Greg Cushman, History
David Fowle, Geology
David Mechem, Geography and Atmospheric Science
David Rahn, Geography and Atmospheric Science
Leigh Stearns, Geology
Cornelius van der Veen, Geography and Atmospheric Science

Suggested Courses

Typically Offered Every Year

  • EVRN 140 Global Environment I: The Discovery of Environmental Change
  • EVRN 142 Global Environment II: The Ecology of Human Civilization
  • ATMO 105 Introductory Meteorology
  • ATMO 321 Climate and Climate Change
  • GEOG 104 Introduction to Physical Geography
  • GEOG 335 Introduction to Soil Geography
  • GEOG 535 Soil Geography

Typically Offered Every Two Years

  • ATMO 521 Microclimatology
  • GEOG 538 Soil Chemistry

Typically Offered Less Than Every Two Years

  • GEOG 332 Glaciers and Landscape
  • GEOG 556 Geography of the Energy Crisis

Description

Students who wish to pursue careers in conservation, habitat restoration, wildlife and land management, environmental education, or field biology research should consider this pathway. Potential employers include local, state, and federal government agencies, environmental consulting firms, non-profit environmental organizations, and educational institutions.

For Environmental Studies majors, the B.S. degree program is the most appropriate choice for students interested in this pathway. (The Environmental Studies B.G.S. and B.A. degree program requirements don’t include introductory biology and chemistry, which are pre-requisites for the advanced classes in biology and ecology.) Students interested in this pathway should also take one or more courses in GIS (for example, EVRN 410: Geospatial Analysis).

There are many possibilities for additional elective courses that would be relevant to this pathway. The courses listed below are grouped by subject, and emphasize biological sciences. Some of them are cross-listed with EVRN numbers (not shown). Be aware that some of those listed below are not offered every year—so you must be prepared to be flexible in planning your schedule.

In addition to an undergraduate degree, work or volunteer experience is essential to compete effectively for jobs in these fields. An internship can be an excellent way to get that experience. Relevant work experience also can be used as a substitute for academic coursework in some job applications. For example, KU doesn’t offer courses specifically in wildlife management. In that case, internship experience (or taking a course from another university) would be essential.

Faculty

Robert Hagen, Environmental Studies - Lead Faculty Member, Conservation Science
Helen Alexander, Ecology & Evolutionary Biology
Kelly Kindscher, Environmental Studies
Town Peterson, Ecology & Evolutionary Biology
Ray Pierotti, Ecology & Evolutionary Biology
Jorge Soberón, Ecology & Evolutionary Biology

Suggested Courses

Typically Offered Every Year

  • BIOL 350 Principles of Genetics
  • BIOL 412 Evolutionary Biology
  • BIOL 413 History and Diversity of Organisms
  • BIOL 414 Principles of Ecology
  • BIOL 428 Introduction to Systematics
  • BIOL 477 Ecology and Global Change
  • BIOL 481 Parasitology Laboratory
  • BIOL 500 Biology of Insects
  • BIOL 502 Laboratory in Insect Biology and Diversity
  • BIOL 509 Biology of Spiders
  • BIOL 511 Biology of Spiders Laboratory
  • EVRN 414 Principles of Ecology
  • GEOG 335 Introduction to Soil Geography

Typically Offered Every Two Years

  • BIOL 582 Principles of Biogeography
  • BIOL 480 Biology and Diversity of Parasites
  • BIOL 583 Herpetology
  • BIOL 592 Ichthyology
  • BIOL 630 Conservation and Wildlife Biology

Typically Offered Less Than Every Two Years

  • BIOL 533 Biology of Fungi
  • BIOL 540 General Invertebrate Zoology
  • BIOL 593 Ornithology
  • BIOL 594 Forest Ecosystems
  • BIOL 602 Plant Ecology
  • BIOL 661 Ecology of Rivers and Lakes

Study Abroad - Costa Rica/India (Typically offered in the summer)

  • BIOL 786 Fundamentals of Tropical Biology

Description

This pathway encourages students to engage with humanity’s lived experience with the natural world by taking courses in history, literature, and philosophy. The environmental humanities emphasize human perceptions, representations, and valuations of nature; our historical interactions with the environment; ethical attitudes toward the earth and its creatures; the study of environmental science and technology as human activities; and many other dimensions of nature-culture relations.

Faculty

Gregory T. Cushman, History — Lead Faculty Member, Environmental Humanities
Santa Arias, Spanish & Portuguese
Byron Caminero-Santangelo, English
Phil Drake, English
Sara Gregg, History
Megan Kaminski, English
Paul Outka, English
Edmund Russell, History 

Suggested Courses

Typically Offered Every Year

  • ENGL 306 Global Environmental Literature
  • EVRN 336 Ethics, Ideas and Nature
  • HIST 336 Ethics, Ideas, and Nature

Typically Offered Every Two Years

  • ENGL 568 American Literary Environmentalism
  • HIST 103 Environment and History
  • HIST 347 Environmental History of North America

Typically Offered Less Than Every Two Years

  • HIST 636 Agriculture in World History

Description

The Environmental Justice pathway emphasizes the causes and consequences of the distribution of environmental problems. In other words, this pathway allows students to focus on why some poor and minority communities are more likely to experience a host of environmental burdens, as well as exploring the impact of that disproportionate environmental exposure. Understanding why some neighborhoods, communities, regions and countries benefit from environmental protection, while others do not, provides students with a concrete skill set and a critical perspective on environmental problems, community organizing and public participation, good governance, and research methods. Students who pursue this pathway will be well situated for careers in public policy, international relations, environmental advocacy, and environmental research.

Faculty

Byron Santangelo, English - Co-Lead Faculty Member, Environmental Justice
Dorothy Daley, Public Affairs & Administration - Co-Lead Faculty Member, Environmental Justice
Dietrich Earnhart, Economics
Joane Nagel, Sociology
Jay T Johnson, Geography
Ray Pierotti, Ecology & Evolutionary Biology
Stacey White, Urban Planning

Suggested Courses

Typically Offered Every Year

  • ECON 550 Environmental Economics
  • EVRN 336 Ethics, Ideas and Nature
  • EVRN 385 Environmental Sociology
  • EVRN 410 Environmental Applications of Geographic Information Systems
  • GEOG 102 People, Place, and Society
  • POLS 320 Introduction to Public Policy
  • UBPL 522 History of the American City I
  • UBPL 565 Introduction to Sustainable Land Use Planning

Typically Offered Every Two Years

  • EVRN 528 Environmental Justice and Public Policy

Typically Offered Less Than Every Two Years

  • EVRN 620 Environmental Politics and Policy
  • EVRN 628 The Politics of Public Health

Typically Offered in the Summer

  • EVRN 150 Environment, Culture and Society
  • GEOG 150 Environment, Culture and Society

Description

This pathway aims to explore multiple ways in which environmental features play a role in security concerns. A key objective for students interested in this pathway is to recognize different ways that security can be conceptualized and operationalized. Although national security is a dominant approach to security, it is also important to understand concerns of human security and security from diverse perspectives based on gender, geography, or other parameters. Security implies both peace and conflict, and is relevant at local, regional, and international spatial scales. Another key objective for students pursuing this pathway is to develop an appreciation of environmental features and resources (e.g., water, food supplies) and how they are measured, assessed, and valued by cultural and political systems.

Faculty

Shannon O’Lear, Geography - Lead Faculty Member, Environmental Security
Alan Arwine, Political Science
Hannah Britton, Political Science; Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies
Nate Brunsell, Geography (Atmospheric Science)
Marike Janzen, Humanities and Western Civilization
Ebenezer Obadare, Sociology
Mariya Omelicheva, Political Science
Randy Stotler, Geology
Kees Vanderveen, Geography

Suggested Courses

Typically Offered Every Year

  • EVRN 140 Global Environment I: The Discovery of Environmental Change
  • EVRN 142 Global Environment II: The Ecology of Human Civilization
  • EVRN 371 Environmental Geopolitics
  • GEOG 100 World Regional Geography
  • GEOG 102 People, Place, and Society
  • GEOG 371 Environmental Geopolitics
  • PCS 120 Introduction to Peace and Conflict Studies

Typically Offered Every Two Years

  • WGSS 662 Gender and Politics in Africa

Typically Offered Less Than Every Two Years

  • GEOG 556 Geography of the Energy Crisis

Description

There is lots of interest in and debates about food and agriculture in our contemporary culture. This is evidenced by recent food crises, the evolution of foodie-dom, the popularity of cooking shows, growing alternative agricultural production and consumer movements, and the popularity of documentaries like Food Inc. This pathway is designed to engage students in these timely and important issues and to guide them toward finding food and agriculture-related courses from especially the humanities and social sciences.

Faculty

Kelly Kindscher, Environmental Studies - Co-Lead Faculty Member, Food & Agriculture
Paul Stock, Sociology - Co-Lead Faculty Member, Food & Agriculture
Chris Brown, Geography
Joseph Brewer, Environmental Studies
Shannon Criss, Architecture
Greg Cushman, History
Christopher Forth, History
Jane Gibson, Anthropology
Sara Gregg, History
Kate Meyer, Spencer Art Museum
Devon Mihesuah, History
Ivana Radovanovic, Anthropology (Archaeology)
Eric Rath, History
Ric G. Steele, Clinical Psychology
Donald D. Stull, Anthropology
Stacey Swearingen White, Urban Planning

Suggested Courses

Typically Offered Every Year

  • EVRN 542 Ethnobotany

Typically Offered Less Than Every Two Years

  • ANTH 545 Contemporary Health Issues in Africa

Description

An emphasis in geospatial analysis and remote sensing is outstanding preparation for careers in private engineering and environmental companies, government agencies, and universities.  Geographic information systems have become the key means by which spatial data are organized, queried, analyzed, and displayed, and are becoming increasingly part of everyday life through such portals as Google Maps/Earth, online mapping, and digital navigation.  Students pursuing this pathway should endeavor to undertake coursework and experience in a wide spectrum of geospatial technologies.

Faculty

Mark Jakubauskas, Environmental Studies -  Lead Faculty Member, Geospatial Analysis
Xingong Li, Geography & Atmospheric Science
Stephen Egbert, Geography & Atmospheric Science
Kathleen Nuckolls, Environmental Studies
Ting Lei, Geography & Atmospheric Science

Suggested Courses

Typically Offered Every Year

  • EVRN 410 Environmental Applications of Geographic Information Systems
  • EVRN 510 Advanced Environmental Applications in Geospatial Techniques
  • GEOG 358 Introduction to Geographic Information Systems
  • GEOG 458 Geographical Information Systems: _____
  • GEOG 558 Intermediate Geographical Information Systems
  • GEOG 560 GIS Application Programming

Description

This pathway is focused on exploring and understanding Indigenous environmental regimes and systems of knowledge. Understanding Indigenous peoples' environmental knowledge aids academic study by resituating the human in ecological terms and the non-human in ethical terms. Both Western and Indigenous environmental studies share an interest in sustaining resilient landscapes and this pathway will aid students in exploring the best practices of both systems of thought toward reaching this common goal.

Faculty

Jay T Johnson, Geography and Indigenous Studies - Lead Faculty Member, Indigenous Studies
Byron Caminero-Santangelo, English
Dorothy Daley, Political Science
Joseph Brewer,  Indigenous Studies - video link
Kelly Kindscher, Environmental Studies
Joane Nagel, Sociology
Ray Pierotti, Ecology & Evolutionary Biology

Suggested Courses

Typically Offered Every Year

  • EVRN 420 Topics in Environmental Studies: _____
  • EVRN 542 Ethnobotany
  • HIST 353 Indigenous Peoples of North America
  • LA&S 204 Contemporary Issues of the American Indian
  • Typically Offered Every Two Years
  • ISP 101 Introduction to Indigenous Nations Studies
  • ISP 601 Indigenous Peoples of the World

Typically Offered Less Than Every Two Years

  • EVRN 528 Environmental Justice and Public Policy
  • GEOG 570 Geography of American Indians
  • HIST 120 Colonial Latin America
  • LA&S 414 Ethnobiology

Haskell Environmental Science Courses

  • ENVS 310: Geologic History: A Sense of Place
  • ENVS 410: Ecological History of North America and Its People

Description

This pathway concentrates your attention on understanding the many influences that decisions about the use of land have on social, environmental, and economic sustainability.  It focuses on the intersections between the built and natural environments and the social and political systems that shape decisions by individuals, organizations and society about land use. Students who pursue this pathway will be well suited for careers in urban planning, environmental policy, environmental management, environmental advocacy, and environmental research.

Faculty

Stacey Swearingen White, Urban Planning - Co-lead Faculty Member, Land Use & Planning
Sara Gregg, History - Co-lead Faculty Member, Land Use & Planning
Bonnie Johnson, Urban Planning
Ward Lyles, Urban Planning 
Chris Brown, Environmental Studies and Geography & Atmospheric Science

Dorothy Daley, Political Science and Environmental Studies

Suggested Courses

Typically Offered Every Year

  • EVRN 405 Kansas Power
  • EVRN 410 Environmental Applications of Geographic Information Systems
  • EVRN 510 Advanced Environmental Applications in Geospatial Techniques
  • EVRN 550 Environmental Economics
  • UBPL 200 Sustainability and Society
  • UBPL 300 Planning the Sustainable City
  • UBPL 522 History of the American City I
  • UBPL 538 Environmental Planning Techniques
  • UBPL 565 Introduction to Sustainable Land Use Planning

Typically Offered Every Two Years

  • EVRN 347 Environmental History of North America

Typically Offered Less Than Every Two Years

  • EVRN 528 Environmental Justice and Public Policy

Description

The Water and Soil Resources pathway focuses on the complex interplay between water and soil and the effect global change is having on their sustainable use.  Water and soil resources are rapidly becoming the environmental issues of the next century as they both respond to multiple stressors on their use that include climate change, population growth, land use changes and environmental pollution.  To be leaders in this field one must have baseline of skills that include a knowledge base in the physical, chemical and biological processes at play in these environments and the policies that govern their sustainable use and development.

Faculty

David Fowle, Geology - Lead Faculty Member, Water & Soil Resources
Ford Ballantyne, Ecology & Evolutionary Biology
Sharon Billings, Ecology & Evolutionary Biology
Nate Brunsell, Geography
Amy Burgin, Environmental Studies
Greg Cushman, History
Dorothy Daley, Political Science
Rick Devlin, Geology
Sarah Gregg, History
Robert Hagen, Environmental Studies
Dan Hirmas, Geography
Mark Jakubauskas, Environmental Studies
Kelly Kindscher, Environmental Studies
Edward Martinko, Ecology & Evolutionary Biology
David Mechem, Geography
Shannon O’Lear, Geography
Gene Rankey, Geology
Paul Stock, Sociology
Belinda Sturm, Environmental Engineering

 

Suggested Courses

Typically Offered Every Year

  • BIOL 100 Principles of Biology
  • BIOL 414 Principles of Ecology
  • BIOL 477 Ecology and Global Change
  • EVRN 320 Environmental Policy Analysis
  • EVRN 335 Introduction to Soil Geography
  • EVRN 410 Environmental Applications of Geographic Information Systems
  • EVRN 460 Field Ecology
  • EVRN 510 Advanced Environmental Applications in Geospatial Techniques
  • EVRN 535 Soil Geography
  • GEOG 335 Introduction to Soil Geography
  • GEOG 535 Soil Geography
  • GEOG 104 Introduction to Physical Geography
  • GEOG 105 Introductory Laboratory in Physical Geography
  • GEOG 321 Climate and Climate Change
  • GEOL 302 Oceanography
  • GEOL 351 Environmental Geology
  • GEOL 552 Introduction to Hydrogeology

Typically Offered Every Two Years

  • EVRN 347 Environmental History of North America
  • EVRN 371 Environmental Geopolitics
  • EVRN 538 Soil Chemistry
  • GEOL 541 Geomorphology

Typically Offered Less Than Every Two Years

  • GEOG 635 Soil Physics