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 will 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 will explore 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 will be addressed via a combination of spatial analysis exercises and on-site visits to past and future installation sites. Additional field trips to local residential and commercial agricultural PV systems and conversations with their owners will 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 will 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 will be directly involved in site evaluations and will closely follow along with the design and construction of the system. During these times, students will help plan and will host a public flip-the-switch event at system sites when these new systems are commissioned and are 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.

This course examines contemporary environmental problems, introducing the major concepts pertaining to human interactions with the biosphere. We will explore this interaction at 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 will 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 format of the course will be three-quarters discussion and lecture and one-quarter workshop. The workshops will 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 will 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.

An examination of 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. 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 will examine our interactions within and among the subsystems at the level of the individual and of society. Lectures and laboratories on these broad topics will be 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 will 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 will be asked to assist with planting in the late fall with harvesting 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 or permission of the instructor.

In this course, students will 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 will participate in two workshops at the beginning of the semester and then participate in at least four programs for visitors. Participants will 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 or permission of instructor. Offered every semester.

The purpose of the 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 will be 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 will be drawn from relevant books, current environmental literature and the news media. Discussions will be student-led and combine readings and their experiences in the field. Also, students must have available in their academic schedule four continuous hours one day per week to spend working at a local organic farm (travel time will be in addition to these four hours). In addition, students will participate in a weekly seminar discussion of assigned readings, lasting from an hour and a half to two hours. Participation is limited to eight to 10 students and permission of instructor is required. Preference will be 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. No prerequisite. 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 will survey a number of online mapping applications (e.g., Google Earth) and use these to produce informative maps. We also will 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 will eventually settle 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 will 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 will present real-world applications of GIS while offering students opportunities to apply the fundamental concepts discussed in lectures. This interdisciplinary course does not count toward the completion of any diversification requirement. 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 will begin by examining the natural state of Earth’s climate system and the factors that have caused past climate variability. We will investigate how humans have altered the climate system as well as some of the most significant impacts of anthropogenic warming. We will end with a discussion of some proposed science-based approaches to mitigating climate change. Prerequisite: ENVS 112 and 220 or MATH 258, or permission of the instructor. Offered every other year.

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 will be on case studies of natural-resource management, with specific topic areas to be determined. In this strongly interdisciplinary effort, we will explore ecological, economic, social and legal issues that influence how people exploit natural resources, and whether that exploitation is sustainable. Students will be 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 environmental studies major or concentrator. Offered every spring.

Because environmental studies is a broad interdisciplinary field, the nature of an individual study will necessarily vary 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 will be 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, the student must 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 preferably the semester before, so that there is time to devise the proposal and seek departmental approval before the registrar’s deadline. This interdisciplinary course does not count toward the completion of any diversification requirement.


Courses that meet the requirement for this concentration:

ANTH 111Introduction to Biological Anthropology
ANTH 320Anthropology of Food
ANTH 324Human Ecology: Biocultural Adaptations
BIOL 106Conservation Biology
BIOL 115Energy in Living Systems
BIOL 228Ecology
BIOL 229Ecology Laboratory
BIOL 328Global Ecology and Biogeography
BIOL 352Aquatic Systems Biology
BIOL 353Aquatic Systems Lab
CHEM 110Environmental Chemistry
CHEM 121Introductory Chemistry
CHEM 122Chemical Principles
CHEM 231Organic Chemistry I
CHEM 232Organic Chemistry II
CHEM 341Instrumental Analysis
ECON 101Principles of Microeconomics
ECON 336Environmental Economics
ECON 342Economics of Regulation
ECON 347Economics of the Public Sector
PHIL 110Introduction to Ethics
PHIL 115Practical Issues in Ethics
PHYS 108Geology
PSCI 361Globalization
PSCI 363Global Environmental Politics
PSCI 364American Environmental Politics and Policy
PSCI 480Science and Politics
RLST 481Religion and Nature
SOCY 233Sociology of Food