Teach the Earth > Introductory Courses > Course Descriptions > Intro to Environmental Pollution

Intro to Environmental Pollution

Tait Chirenje
, The Richard Stockton College of New Jersey


This is an Environmental Science course designed to meet the environmental or earth science requirement for non-majors from specific disciplines.

Course Type:
Entry Level Environmental Geology

Course Size:

Course Format:
Lecture only

Institution Type:
Public four-year institution, primarily undergraduate

Course Context:

This is a general education course with no college prerequisites. Most of the students take the course as a general education course to meet the General Natural Science and Mathematics requirements. Students who switch to Environmental Science and Geology still have to take Physical Geology. Students who switch to Environmental Science are exempt from the Intro to Environmental Science course, but they must take an extra science cognate.

In your department, do majors and non-majors take separate introductory courses? Yes, the topics are different - introductory courses for non majors are taught as general education courses
If students take a "non-majors" course, and then decide to become a major, do they have to go back and take an additional introductory course? yes

Course Content:

This course focuses on environmental quality. It is divided into sections that include three environmental media (air, water and soil). The common pollutants, their sources and transformations and ecosystem and human health impacts are discussed for each specific medium. Lastly, we discuss environmental regulations and remediation technologies. A late addition to this course is the section on population and risk and toxicology.

Course Goals:

1. Introduce students to the most common environmental pollutants in the US
2. Engage students in at least one community based civic engagement project that involves environmental pollution.
3. Challenge students to explore and understand the environmental threats they face in their own neighborhoods

Course Features:

The format of the course (hybrid, with lots of readings and weekly responses) allows students to read and reflect on issues before attending a weekly lecture. The assignments also challenge them to closely examine environmental pollution in their hometowns.

Course Philosophy:

This particular style works best for my students because it gives them enough time to read and respond to specific readings before the weekly lecture (which is used to discuss pertinent issues from the readings).


Each part of assessment tools of the course, assignments, weekly response papers, quizzes, project and final exam


Syllabus (Acrobat (PDF) 28kB May7 08)

Teaching Materials:

References and Notes:

Course text: Our Global Environment, 6th Edition. A. Nadakavukaren, Waveland Press.
The text approaches the topics from an environmental health perspective, which complements my chemistry and earth science bias/perspective. The students get an alternate viewpoint from the books and assigned readings.

I also assign:
1. Weekly readings from the New York Times and BBC NewsOnline
2. NJDEP Daily News (deals with environmental issues in the state)
3. Select publications from various journals

Pedagogic references:
1. What the best college teachers do (Ken Bain)
2. Getting the most out of college (Peter Feaver et al)
3. Design for success, why we love or hate everyday things (Donald Norman)