Photovoltaic power generation is proving to be a viable renewable alternative to fossil fuels, and Kenyon College is embarking on a multi-year plan to install PV systems on several buildings across campus. This course is uniquely situated to take advantage of this endeavor. We discuss the role energy serves in society and examine the basic physics of energy in general before discussing and comparing traditional fossil fuels versus alternatives. Focusing our attention on PV electrical energy, a series of hands-on lab exercises explores the science of electricity, PV power generation and linking such systems to the grid. Determining potential locations for installing Kenyon's growing network of solar power systems is addressed via a combination of spatial analysis exercises and visits to past and future installation sites. Additional field trips to local residential and commercial agricultural PV systems and conversations with their owners augment these efforts. Through conversations with leaders of Kenyon's campus efforts and online virtual meetings with leaders in the industry at the state, regional and national levels, we learn the ins and outs of designing, planning, installing and financing PV systems from the perspectives of buyers, sellers and investors. During semesters when an installation is in process, we are directly involved in site evaluations and closely follow along with the design and construction of the system. During these times, students help plan and host a public flip-the-switch event at system sites when these new systems are commissioned and officially energized and connected to the grid. This counts toward the additional skills requirement for the major. This interdisciplinary course does not count toward the completion of any diversification requirement. No prerequisite. Offered every year.
Kenyon’s campus sits on glacial sediments marking the farthest extent of the Laurentide Ice Sheet, with glaciated till plains to our west and unglaciated Appalachian foothills to our east. Below these glacial sediments lies the Black Hand Sandstone, formed 350 million years ago from the erosion of the young and massive Appalachian Mountains. Through literary readings, local field trips and hands-on activities, this course explores the geologic forces that have shaped Ohio’s landscape. Students develop a connection to place through repeated field observations – including sketching, photography, and writing – of a location on Kenyon property. In addition, we discuss topics such as the intersection between science and Indigenous knowledge, diversity and representation in outdoor spaces, and science communication. This counts toward the cultures, societies and environments requirement for the major. This interdisciplinary course does not count toward the completion of any diversification requirement. No prerequisite. Offered every other fall.
This course examines contemporary environmental problems, introducing the major concepts pertaining to human interactions with the biosphere. We explore this interaction on both local and global scales. Course topics include basic principles of ecology (flows of energy, cycling of matter and the role of feedback), the impacts of human technology, the roots of our perceptions about and reactions to nature, the social and legal framework for responding to problems, and economic issues surrounding environmental issues. We discuss methods for answering questions regarding the consequences of our actions and, using a systems approach, focus on methods for organizing information to evaluate complex issues. The course is three-quarters discussion and lecture and one-quarter workshop. The workshops include field trips, experience with collecting data, and application of systems thinking. This course taken at Kenyon, paired with any biology course, counts toward the natural science diversification requirement. This course is required for the major. No prerequisite. Offered every year.
This course is an introduction to the field and laboratory techniques used in environmental science. Students receive an overview of scientific and research methods, data handling and field techniques to assess water quality, soil characteristics and ecosystem composition and health. This is a community-engaged learning course: Students will travel to a local farm (transportation provided by instructor) to assess the long-term environmental effects of switching from conventional to sustainable agricultural practices. This course counts toward the lab skills major requirement. This interdisciplinary course does not count toward the completion of any diversification requirement. Prerequisite: ENVS 112. Offered every fall semester.
This course examines the processes used to understand, analyze and solve environmental problems. Students are introduced to the use of mathematics and statistics to analyze environmental data. Problems involving stock, dimensions, mass balance, energy and population analysis are studied. Applied static and dynamical modeling of environmental problems is emphasized. This counts toward the quantitative skills requirement for the major. This interdisciplinary course does not count toward the completion of any diversification requirement. Prerequisite: ENVS 112 and declared environmental studies major. Offered every fall.
Earth systems science is an integrated approach to studying the world in which we live. At the highest level, the four most basic interacting subsystems are air (atmosphere), water (hydrosphere), land (geosphere) and life (biosphere). This course introduces students to the physical, chemical and biological processes of these major subsystems (and the interactions among them) by examining past and present states of the Earth system. Humans, as relatively late-coming members of the biosphere, are part of the overall Earth system, and we examine our interactions within and among the subsystems at the level of the individual and of society. Lectures and laboratories on these broad topics are supplemented by field trips to witness Earth's systems in context and by conversations with community members whose work is at the forefront of human interactions within the system. This course is required for the major. This interdisciplinary course does not count toward the completion of any diversification requirement. Prerequisite: ENVS 112. Offered every spring semester.
This course intends to explore the principles of permaculture that link ecology, sustainability and community to farming. It is a holistic alternative to the destructive patterns and chemical abuse of agriculture. Our world is facing a long future of food insecurity as human population rises rapidly and land is turned over to housing and infrastructure. We need to bring ourselves back into balance with nature. In this course, students learn to apply some of the principles of permaculture to extending a developing academic-year winter-harvest plan on the homestead Kenyon Farm and to year-round prospects. Students enrolling in this spring course are asked to assist with planting in the late fall, with harvest occurring in winter months of the spring semester when the course is in session. The course is interdisciplinary, linking biology, sociology and sustainable farming strategies. This interdisciplinary course does not count toward the completion of any diversification requirement. Prerequisite: ENVS 112 or BIOL115.
In this course, students examine special topics in environmental science, gaining subject knowledge so that they can lead educational experiences for elementary school classes visiting the Brown Family Environmental Center. Students participate in two workshops at the beginning of the semester and then participate in at least four programs for visitors. Participants keep a journal and submit a final report on their experiences along with evaluations of the effectiveness of the programs. This interdisciplinary course does not count toward the completion of any diversification requirement. Prerequisite: ENVS 112 or equivalent. Offered every semester.
The purpose of this limited enrollment course is to introduce students to the principles of sustainable agriculture through hands-on experience on local farms and through readings of current literature. The course thus combines fieldwork and seminar-style discussion. Work on the farm is varied, determined by the seasons and farm projects under-way. In addition, students may be taken to the local Producers Livestock Auction and other off-farm sites as the time and season allow. Students can expect to handle and feed animals, clean barns, harvest and plant crops, prepare farm products for market, build and repair fences, bale hay and work with, repair or clean equipment and buildings. Readings are drawn from relevant books, current environmental literature and the news media. Discussions are student-led and combine readings and their experiences in the field. Students must have available in their academic schedule four continuous hours (plus travel time) one day per week to spend working at a local organic farm. In addition, students participate in a weekly seminar discussion of assigned readings, lasting from an hour and a half to two hours. Preference is given to juniors and seniors. Completion of ENVS 112 is highly recommended. This interdisciplinary course does not count toward the completion of any diversification requirement. Permission of instructor required. Offered every fall.
This course is for all students interested in improving their spatial literacy, or the ability to use spatial information to communicate, reason and solve problems — in this case environmental problems, nearly all of which have a spatial component. Following a review of maps (coordinate and projection systems, cartographic principles, etc.) we survey a number of online mapping applications (e.g., Google Earth) and use these to produce informative maps. We also explore the nature of the Global Positioning System (GPS) and how data can be collected in the field for future analysis and presentation. The focus of the course eventually settles onto the nature of computer-based geographic information systems (GIS) and the ways in which this powerful suite of tools can be used to analyze geographic data, model spatial processes and make informed decisions. Lectures introduce fundamental concepts such as scale and resolution, the nature and structure of spatial data models, and the construction of GIS queries. A series of laboratory case studies presents real-world applications of GIS while offering students opportunities to apply the fundamental concepts discussed in lectures. This counts toward the additional skills requirement for the major. This interdisciplinary course does not count toward the completion of any diversification requirement. No prerequisite. Sophomore standing.
Climate change is the defining environmental issue for our time, permeating conversations about economics, human rights and international relations. In order to engage in these conversations, it is critical to have a solid understanding of Earth’s climate system and how humans are altering it. We begin by examining the natural state of Earth’s climate system and the factors that have caused past climate variability. We investigate how humans have altered the climate system as well as some of the most significant impacts of anthropogenic warming. We end with a discussion of some proposed science-based approaches to mitigating climate change. This interdisciplinary course does not count toward the completion of any diversification requirement. This counts toward the living systems requirement for the major. Prerequisite: ENVS 112 and either ENVS 220 or MATH 258. Offered every other year.
Hosts, pathogens and vectors are parts of complex ecosystems. To understand the impacts of disease, this course examines the effects of disease on ecosystems (including humans) and explores the ecological and evolutionary processes that drive disease dynamics. Diseases do not follow national boundaries, but disease incidence and mitigation approaches differ dramatically by country and continent. Thus, exploring ecological systems and disease dynamics requires a global approach. This course includes case studies, problem-based learning and discussions that focus on the global aspects of disease. Also emphasized are global change (climate change; urbanization and development; movement of people, animals and pathogens; and habitat loss and alteration) and impacts on emerging and re-emerging diseases. This counts toward the upper-level environmental biology requirement in the biology major and as an additional living systems elective in the environmental studies major. This interdisciplinary course does not count toward the completion of any diversification requirement. Prerequisite: BIOL 115 or ENVS 112 and sophomore standing.
This course is intended to reward students with academic credit for their research activities, provide opportunities to develop skills related to communicating science, and encourage students to gain exposure to ongoing environmental science research. Students select their own research problems in consultation with an ENVS faculty member and/or a mentor at one of the Green Centers. Instead of frequent class meetings, students are expected to spend 6-10 hours per week working on their research project in close collaboration with their mentor. To develop communication skills, students present their work to their colleagues and compose a final manuscript that describes their research progress during the semester. This interdisciplinary course does not count toward the completion of any diversification requirement. This course is repeatable for credit. Prerequisite: BIOL 109Y-110Y or ENVS 210.
The intention of this capstone seminar is to draw together and apply the concepts learned in earlier courses in the Environmental Studies Concentration. The focus of the course is on case studies of natural-resource management, with specific topic areas to be determined. In this strongly interdisciplinary effort, we explore ecological, economic, social and legal issues that influence how people exploit natural resources, and whether that exploitation is sustainable. Students are expected to develop and communicate their understanding of the complex and inseparable relationships of human well-being, ecosystem services and environmental management. This course is required for the major. This interdisciplinary course does not count toward the completion of any diversification requirement. Prerequisite: senior standing and declared environmental studies major or concentrator. Offered every spring.
Because environmental studies is a broad interdisciplinary field, the nature of an individual study necessarily varies depending on the home discipline of the faculty member guiding the course. Details regarding the expected number of contact hours per week, workload and assessment are left to the discretion of the faculty member guiding the individual study. There are no formal restrictions on who can pursue an individual study in environmental studies. Individual studies may, upon consultation with an environmental studies co-chair, serve as an elective course in fulfilling the requirements for environmental studies, up to 0.5 units. To enroll in an individual study, a student must identify a member of the ENVS faculty willing to mentor the project and, in consultation with him or her, draft a syllabus, including readings, schedule and assignments, which must be approved by a co-chair of the program. At a minimum, it is expected that the student meet regularly with his or her instructor, at least once per week or the equivalent, at the discretion of the instructor. At a minimum, the amount of work submitted for a grade in an IS should approximate that required, on average, for courses of equivalent units in the home department of the faculty mentor. In the case of a group individual study, a single course syllabus may be submitted, assuming that all group members will follow the same syllabus. Because students must enroll for individual studies by the end of the seventh class day of each semester, they should begin discussion of the proposed individual study by the semester before, so that there is time to devise the proposal and seek departmental approval. This interdisciplinary course does not count toward the completion of any diversification requirement.
Courses that meet the requirement for this concentration:
|ANTH 111||Introduction to Biological Anthropology|
|ANTH 256||Habitat and Humanity|
|ANTH 320||Anthropology of Food|
|ANTH 324||Human Ecology: Biocultural Adaptations|
|BIOL 106||Conservation Biology|
|BIOL 115||Energy in Living Systems|
|BIOL 229||Ecology Laboratory|
|BIOL 328||Global Ecology and Biogeography|
|BIOL 352||Aquatic Systems Biology|
|BIOL 353||Aquatic Systems Lab|
|CHEM 110||Environmental Chemistry|
|CHEM 121||Introductory Chemistry|
|CHEM 122||Chemical Principles|
|CHEM 231||Organic Chemistry I|
|CHEM 232||Organic Chemistry II|
|CHEM 341||Instrumental Analysis|
|ECON 101||Principles of Microeconomics|
|ECON 336||Environmental Economics|
|ECON 342||Economics of Regulation|
|ECON 347||Economics of the Public Sector|
|PHIL 110||Introduction to Ethics|
|PHIL 115||Practical Issues in Ethics|
|PHIL 190||The Anthropocene as a Philosophical Problem|
|PSCI 310||Public Policy|
|PSCI 342||Politics of Development|
|PSCI 363||Global Environmental Politics|
|PSCI 463||American Environmental Politics and Policy|
|PSCI 480||Science and Politics|
|RLST 350||Religion and Nature|
|SOCY 101||Powers, Energies and Peoples|