Teach the Earth > Course Design > Course Goals/Syllabus Database > Introduction to Environmental Sciences

Introduction to Environmental Sciences

Christopher Kim

Chapman University
Private four-year institution, primarily undergraduate


Environmental science is an applied interdisciplinary science focused on understanding environmental problems and proposing viable solutions. The course is designed to develop skills to analyze causes of environmental problems and develop strategies for potential solutions from a natural science and social science perspective. Scientific framework of environmental problems is emphasized. The course presents an overview of major environmental problems and scientific principles and principles of environmental management.

Course URL:
Subject: Environmental Science, Geoscience
Resource Type: Course Information:Goals/Syllabi, Course Information
Grade Level: College Lower (13-14)
Ready for Use: Course Goals Only
Course Type: Entry Level:Earth System Science
Theme: Teach the Earth:Course Topics:Environmental Science
Course Size:


Course Context:

This is an introductory course with no pre-requisites and does not serve as a prerequisite for other courses. It will serve as a lab course for non-science majors and as the beginning of the environmental sciences minor curriculum (and hopefully for a forthcoming major in environmental sciences).

Course Goals:

1. Students will be able to search for and synthesize both recent and historical data on global warming in order to provide a current assessment of the future impact of global warming on our society.

2. Students will be able to competently represent any side of the debate on natural resource use and exploration, providing arguments that support their side and critique opposing sides.

3. Students will be able to evaluate the science behind a recent environmental study (e.g. coastal contamination, solar power, species endangerment) and identify additional experiments/data needed to further support or challenge the conclusions found in the study.

How course activities and course structure help students achieve these goals:

Students will work in pairs or groups on moderate-term projects and activities (i.e. a few weeks in duration) to explore more deeply and in a more active-learning format the selected subjects listed in the discipline-related goals. For example, students will participate in a jigsaw activity to learn about different forms of energy use followed by an in-class debate discussing the merits of different forms of energy.

Skills Goals

Interpretation of scientific data
Critical analysis of scientific studies

How course activities and course structure help students achieve these goals:

Students will have repeated opportunities to view, discuss, interpret, and challenge scientific data in the form of plots, tables, figures, and full scientific articles.

Attitudinal Goals

Increasing students' interest in and connection to the (environmental) sciences, understanding the relevance to their own lives and current issues of local/national/global importance.

How course activities and course structure help students achieve these goals:

Students will be actively involved in choosing topics to research for goal #3. Instructor efforts in course design, topic choices, and case studies will be largely directed towards identifying relevant examples and studies that connect to local issues or other current environmental concerns.


Assessment will be conducted through One-Minute Papers, weekly quizzes, midterms, mid-semester evaluation forms, graded homework and in-class activities.