Curriculum

To earn the Master of Arts in Environmental Studies, students will complete a minimum of 45 credits of required and elective courses. The required courses make up roughly half of the degree and include a three-credit capstone project in the field. The additional course credits are drawn from program electives.

Courses are conducted primarily online, reaching a national audience and allowing you to work and pursue the degree regardless of your location. In addition, a low-residency and workshop components will provide face-to-face interaction and fieldwork with faculty and other students in the program.

 

Environmental Studies Required Courses

ENV 605 – Climate Change: Science and Society (3 credits)

This course offers an integrative approach to climate change, providing an overview of the complex and multidisciplinary sciences underpinning climate science and it challenges to social and political accommodation.  As social and political implications of climate change have become increasingly apparent and communities across the globe struggle with impacts that include extreme weather and denial of causes, this course is designed to teach students to sort through the scientific, social, and political commitments of climate change and assess competing theories of change.

ENV 624B – Systems Thinking & Evaluation (3 credits)

This course provides students the tools and critical thinking skills to interpret, evaluate, communicate, and use scientific-research findings. Systems thinking and modeling introduces students to the concept of design thinking, nonlinear dynamics, thresholds, uncertainty and surprise, ecosystem feedback loops, built-environment impacts, and human ecology. Students will develop quantitative literacy for understanding scientific models (mathematical, population dynamic, and dimensional) and their underlying principles and notational conventions as tools that organize data, define parameters, clarify processes, and enable predictions.

ENV 624C – Sustainability Perspective & Practice (3 credits)

This course instructs students in formulating research questions and designing methods to measure, sample, or model them.  This course, in particular, examines the development and implementation of strategies that promote sustainability by surveying methods, tools, and processes that are currently used in environmental management.  This examination provides students with a cross-disciplinary lens to prepare them to become strategic managers that promote sustainable practices in organizations and/or communities.  Case studies will illustrate the successful integration of strategic management decisions into systems that comprise organizations, communities, and ecosystems; an integration that have led to positive sustainability outcomes.

ENV 633 – Environmental Sustainability & Resilience (3 credits)    

Sustainability and resilience are the environmental watchwords of our time and key, integrative frameworks for environmental studies.  Sustainability appeals to conservation, preservation, and mitigation efforts, while resilience prepares for change.  This course is solutions oriented and designed for students to examine and critically assess alternative approaches to environmental challenges and social change.  Topics in this course will include scales of sustainability, adaptation, and mitigation (e.g., climate change); consumption and production; quality-of-life indicators (Genuine Progress Indicators) as alternatives to gross domestic product (GDP); the precautionary principle; and developing solutions focused on survival, security, and equity.

ENV 634 – Cost-Benefit Analysis (3 credits)

This course examines how natural resources intersect with social and economic-development initiatives, focusing on the valuation of sustainable options to minimize environmental threats.  This course provides students with a thorough understanding of the use of social benefits and social costs in traditional economic models to take into account the effects of production and consumption on sustainability. Through the use of benefit-cost analysis as a decision-making tool, students will be able to assess policy options intended to decrease or eliminate environmental threats while improving sustainable development, taking into account equity of environmental services.

ENV 637 – Environmental Change: Causes & Impacts (3 credits)

This course examines the driving forces and impacts of a variety of environmental challenges, and geophysical and geopolitical ties that bind communities together around the world.  Students will better understand the social, economic, and biological landscape that we face globally today.  They will also understand how these forces of environmental change also fuel conflicts, public health issues, poverty, and vulnerability in communities.  Case studies of successful mitigation and resilience will be provided and discussed to provide students with awareness and appreciation for what is being done in response to these issues. 

ENV 675 – Capstone (3 credits)

Capstones are culminating educational experiences that provide students an opportunity for synthesis and demonstration of their capacity to effectively work in the field of environmental management. Under the mentorship of a faculty committee, students will develop a project or thesis. Students present and defend to the committee a portfolio of work accomplished at the end of the capstone experience.

ENV 6xx – Environmental Management (3 credits)

This course explores the management practices and tools that are used to improve the health of organizations, communities, and ecosystems. Emphasis is placed on the importance of sound, scientific information in decision making, a process that is also rooted in complex political, cultural, and socioeconomic systems. In particular, students evaluate the application of conventional and alternative environmental management practices that address complex environmental problems associated with air and water quality, energy, climate change, biodiversity, agriculture, and solid waste.  After considering the experiences of professionals working in environmental management in these settings, students are expected to use critical thought, innovation, and creativity to formulate an adaptive management plan for an environmental issue.

 

Electives

ENV 610 – Cultural Geography & Land Management (3 credits)

This course introduces students to the importance of spatial dimensions and relations in social organization, incorporating social and cultural meanings of space and place and political and economic implications into land management practice and policy.  The course surveys basic concepts in geography, including cultural-settlement patterns, land-use patterns, sense of place, populations and demographics, regionalization, agriculture and rural development, urbanization and industrialization, the political economy of natural resources, and the social production of space.  The course explores these topics in the framework of land-use policy and management and illustrates the use of legal instruments such as conservation easements, political structures such as protected areas and bio reserves, economic incentives in ecotourism, and digital technologies such as geographic information systems (GIS).

ENV 612 – Energy, Natural Resource Management, & the Environment (3 credits)

This course covers a wide spectrum of topics on energy and natural resource management from a public-policy and environmental-affairs approach.  In the course students will investigate the politics, economics, and impacts of renewable and fossil-fuel energy sources, energy policy, energy efficiency, waste, restoration, environmental technology, public finance and investment, and environmental law and regulations.

ENV 615 – Environmental Communication & Media (3 credits)

This course introduces students to the role of the media and communications in articulating environmental claims, issues, and challenges. It explores techniques for communicating across social and political differences, expressing complex technical issues, mediating contentious issues, and managing crisis rhetoric.  Students develop critical thinking for understanding multiple points of view, developing scientific literacy, and identifying sources and forms of bias and misrepresentation.  Students will evaluate popular environmental discourse and analyze environmental rhetoric.

ENV 618 – Environmental Education Leadership (3 credits)

This course investigates the role of education in solving environmental problems and developing environmental literacy.  Students will explore models of environmental education, how it manifests across sectors (in nonprofit, academic, for-profit and government contexts), best practices in environmental education program planning, and community-based environmental education. Emphasis is placed on emerging roles in leadership and program sustainability.

ENV 621 – Environmental Governance (3 credits)

This course approaches environmental governance from a multi-level perspective, including community-based environmental management, and policy and governance structures formally represented in institutions as well as adaptive and emergent forms shaped in response to decentralized negotiations over decisions and access to resources.  In addition to this multilevel framework, the course will focus on the process of policy making, decision analysis, the problem of scaling, and the techniques of scenario planning.  It will present basic concepts and illustrate real-world concerns in case studies.

ENV 622 – Environmental Justice (3 credits)

This course examines environmental inequity, in particular how race and socioeconomic status are related to environmental problems faced by communities. We will investigate patterns of environmental inequity, injustice, and racism as well as grassroots and community-based efforts to deal with environmental threats.

ENV 623 – Environment, Culture, & Community (3 credits)

This course explores the interrelations and interdependencies of environment, culture, and community.  Beginning with the current state of the world and its sustainability crisis, we will explore global environmental issues and topics, focusing on cultural and community impacts.  Students will be exposed to a range of domestic, international, rural, and urban theaters of conflict and change, as well as the complex political, social, scientific, and methodological challenges of working at the intersection of environment, culture, and community.

ENV 627 – Environmental Policy

This course examines environmental politics and policymaking at various scales, including the relationship between society, politics, and the environment as well as the challenges and implications of decision-making, policy, and governance. Students will examine how environmental policy is developed and how laws are applied with the goal of better understanding the role of federal and state laws and regulations on the sustainable management of environmental services.

ENV 630 – Public Participation (3 credits)

This course introduces students to the critical role of public engagement with issues that have a bearing on communities directly affected by adverse environmental impacts, such as environmental health, food security, and resource allocation.  It will build upon approaches and topics studied in other offerings in this curriculum on social science methods, governance, and environmental justice.  We will examine power and stakeholders, learning to map the scope of interests and spheres of influence of stakeholders and developing the practical skill at managing a stakeholder process.  We will survey different types of public participation in the political process, including public comment, community organization, citizen science, and the co-production of knowledge.  This course emphasizes practical application of public engagement and participation techniques in the context of heterogeneous communities with different cultural worldviews and priorities.

ENV 640 – Risk & Society (3 credits)

This course introduces students to the field of environmental risk and its construction and representation as a complex of interweaving ecological, social, economic, statutory and political factors.  The course will consider the process of risk assessment and analysis, as well as risk communication and management, in contexts such as public administration and public health.

ENV 653 – Community-Based Conservation (3 credits)

This course addresses how communities become effective stewards of their environment, history, or culture.  Students achieve a dynamic understanding of theoretical and applied concepts of collective action in conservation grounded in the development of complicated ideas concerning our perception of nature and heritage.  Through case studies that demonstrate the complexities of managing common pool resources and protecting cultural identities, participants will have an opportunity to examine a conservation community in their home region.  This course will provide participants with opportunities get involved with or start a CBC project of their own.

PMGT 606 – Managing an Organization (3 credits)

This course explores the fundamentals of managing a small or medium-sized organization. Ethics and social responsibility, legal principles, building and leading a team, business/organizational planning and development, human resource and diversity issues, and international market implications will be covered.

PMGT 608 – Principles of Project Management (3 credits)

This course is intended as an overview, describing the fundamental principles, processes, knowledge areas, and tools and techniques of project management. Students will learn how to manage the "faster, better, cheaper" pressures that most organizations face. Topics include the project management life cycle, selecting projects, project planning, quality management, and controlling projects.

PMGT 616 – Financial Skills & Managerial Accounting (3 credits)

This course covers the creation and interpretation of financial statements, with a particular focus on building financial statements, cash flow, accounting controls, financial analysis, cost-benefit analysis, financial budgeting and applying accounting information for managerial decision-making. The course stresses using financial information within organizations for understanding and analyzing activities and operations. Students learn linkages between accounting information and management planning through cost analysis (including activity-based costing), operational and capital budgeting, and performance measurement. Students learn how to build financial models, analyze business plans and to justify management decisions to create financially sustainable organizations.

PMGT 617 – Principles of Marketing (3 credits)

The purpose of this course is to look at marketing as a broad concept, beyond the usual functions of selling and advertising. Students will explore the principles of marketing management and the tactics for achieving strategic marketing goals. Students will also investigate relevant social and ethical issues related to marketing. The course goals are for students to develop competency and apply the concepts and skills learned in order to produce a professional quality marketing plan. The plan should include an analysis of the customer (including the customer identity, segments, values, and behavior), a clear and compelling value proposition or unique selling proposition, incorporate all the elements of the marketing mix in appropriate ways, and utilize the tools of segmentation and SWOT analyses to guide strategic marketing decision making.

PMGT 626 –  Nonprofit Leadership & Management (3 credits)

This course provides the broad knowledge necessary to understand and successfully contribute to the nonprofit organization. Topics covered include: understanding the place of nonprofits in society; developing, guiding, and managing a board; program development and evaluation; volunteer development and management; fundraising and development; ePhilanthropy; and other selected topics.

PMGT 643 – Writing for Different Audiences (3 credits)

This course gives an overview of the elements of effective professional communications, including writing clear, concise copy; communicating ideas across a platform of mediums; and identifying and writing to specific audiences. This course will explore these communications elements as they apply to nonprofit and entrepreneurial organizations, arts organizations, and self-promotion.

PMGT 650 – Models of Social Entrepreneurship (3 credits)

This course explores different organizational models of how people are working to change the world in positive ways. Looking beyond the traditional categories of non-profit, for-profit, government and education, innovative models that are being developed to address the pressing social and environmental issues faced by communities are identified and analyzed. The topics include: earned income, social ventures, hybrid organizations, crowdsourcing, cooperatives, community engagement, grasstops partnerships, and co-working. Students evaluate existing models to determine their strengths and opportunities for improvement related to their context, resources, power relationships, and their value as solutions to specific problems.

PMGT 652 – Performance Management and Organizational Development (3 credits)

This course equips students with knowledge about all aspects of performance management, including: setting work expectations, leading work planning, conducting counseling sessions, developing employee needs assessment, and exploring policies and best management practices. Additional organizational development topics that will be addressed in the course include: organizational transformation, processes for diagnosis and intervention, and the skills needed to facilitate individual, small group, and organizational change.