Course Descriptions

ESM 501 Principles of Environmental Systems Analysis and Management I     3CR
This first course of a year-long in-depth investigation into our environment will focus on the scientific principles that underlay the concept of sustainable environmental systems. Learning to think about the environment with an emphasis on sustainability will lead us to pollution and waste prevention instead of only focusing on clean up and disposal. Future environmental scientists must focus on preservation of ecosystems rather than a few select species, environmental restoration, conservation of resources, and the stabilization of our world’s human population.

ESM 502 Principles of Environmental Science and Ecosystem Management II     3CR 
This second course of a yearlong in-depth investigation or our environment will focus on the sustainability of natural resources and environmental quality for the maintenance of human societies.  Since the industrial revolution, humans have been exploiting non-renewable resources at an alarming rate.  New technology is permitting the harnessing of renewable resources but changing world views is difficult when entire economies are reliant on the use of non-renewable resources.  Learning to think about the environment with an emphasis on sustainability will lead us to pollution and waste prevention instead of only focusing on clean up and disposal.  The future of the world’s plant and animal populations including humans is dependent upon the sustainable use of resources and a decrease in the subsequent pollution, especially in the face of climate change.

ESM 503 GIS for Environmental Analysis     3CR
This course focuses on the GIS principles, methods, and techniques that are particularly relevant to and useful for problem solving in environmental analysis and management. Specifically this course has four major components: an overview of selected GIS principles including data models, scale and spatial sampling, and spatial autocorrelation; a review of the major techniques or issues for environmental data acquisition and integration; an introduction to environmental analysis and modeling techniques; and a discussion of several applied areas of environmental modeling techniques as related to landscape ecology, hydrology, natural hazards, natural resources management, and environmental planning.

ESAM 504 Environmental Hydrology and Hydrogeology     4CR
Water is not only essential to all life on earth it also shapes the environment we live. This course acquaints students with the basic concepts of environmental hydrology especially emphasizing fundamental concepts and methods in the study of hydrology, hydrogeology and water resources. This course focuses application of the principles of hydrology to environmental characterization and problem solving. Indeed the management of water resources is one of, if not, the critical issue of the 21st century. The four hour laboratory associated with this course will consist of theoretical discussions, laboratory analyses, field trips, and a project.

ESM 505 Field Methods and Analysis     4CR
The analysis of an ecosystem requires an appreciation of ecological principles, and an understanding of the physical processes and biological components that influence a community. Students will learn and practice basic techniques in environmental biotic sampling and analysis in both terrestrial and aquatic environments. The course emphasizes sampling of vegetation, vertebrates and invertebrates, as well as management and analyses of data gathered in the field. Extensive field work will be conducted in the Housatonic River watershed and adjacent Long Island Sound. Due to the nature of New England’s seasons students enrolling in the course will be required to participate in intensive field work experiences during the late summer between year 1 and 2 of the program.

ESM 506 Environmental Sampling and Analysis     4CR
In order to best prepare students for jobs in the real world, this course will focus on the theory behind, the preparation of, and the analysis of environmental samples. Students will use learn how to operate state-of-the-art research equipment and to critically analyze data produced by these machines, including UV-Vis spectrospcopy, Gas Chromotography, Atomic Absorption, and Inductively-Coupled-Plasma Atomic Emission spectroscopy. Students will collect, store, prepare and analyze inorganic nutrients, metals, and organic materials. Finally students will develop an EPA QA/QC protocol for a theoretical project utilizing these machines.

ESM 507 Environmental Toxicology     4CR
Environmental toxicology is the study of pollutants ranging from their biochemical and molecular effects on organisms to ecosystem impacts. The course will cover a broad variety of toxins including major classes of pollutants (heavy metals, pesticides, endocrine disruptors), sites and mechanisms of cellular action, bioaccumulation, fate in the environment and impacts upon ecosystems. Existing frameworks used by scientists and regulators to determine how we govern environmental contaminants will be discussed.  In the co-requisite laboratory, students learn methods of toxicity testing and techniques to quantify toxicant effects.  A semester long project using a predominant toxicology model organism will be performed.

ESM 511 Soils & Land Management     3CR
Students will be examining changes in soil physical and chemical properties and behavior caused by short- and long-term stresses from anthropogenic activities and environmental forces. Soil as a resource will be studied with a particular emphasis on erosion and the universal soil loss equation, as well as how to best manage for future impacts on soil quality from anthropogenic stress. Discussion will revolve around different types of soil pending ecosystem classification. Meanwhile, the soil biological community will be examined with an emphasis on improving land management practices.

ESM 540 Restoration Ecology     3CR
Ecological restoration is an intentional activity that initiates or accelerates the recovery of an ecosystem with respect to its health, integrity and sustainability. Restoration ecology is the study of how to return an impaired or degraded ecosystem to a close approximation of its remaining natural potential, as defined by such indices as ecologic habitat, water quality, biodiversity, functionality, dynamic stability, etc. This course examines the scientific basis of restoration programs in the U.S. and worldwide through consideration of interdisciplinary theories and practices. Specifically we will focus on restoration needs and goals, restoration approaches for various ecosystems, restoration planning and implementation, and the uncertainty and sustainability of restoration designs. Students will be exposed to a variety of restoration concepts through lectures, seminars, and independent projects. Finally students will actively participate in ongoing restoration projects in the Housatonic River watershed.

ESM 550 Ecosystem Ecology     4CR
Students will explore the interactions of organisms and their physical environment as an integrated system by focusing on one particular ecosystem. The model system utilized in this course will be the Housatonic Watershed. The faculty and students of the Environmental Systems Analysis and Management program will become participating members of the Housatonic Watershed Project organized by the federal Environmental Protection Agency and run locally by numerous non-profit and state organizations in Massachusetts, New York, and Connecticut. The students will be immersed in a thorough examination of the use, abuse, and management of this watershed through the prism of ecosystem science.

ESM 563 Hazardous Waste Management     3CR
This course covers topics associated with the management of hazardous waste. The topic selection emphasizes: pollution prevention within industry; waste minimization; recovery, reuse, and recycling, treatment technologies; and site remediation. The basics of hazardous waste regulation are also addressed.

ESM 561 Environmental Chemistry     3CR
The course explores chemical aspects of the human environment and sources, reactions, transport, effects and fates of chemical species in water, soil and living environments and effects of technology thereon.

ESM 575 Environmental Policy     3CR
This course is designed to provide an intensive introduction to the study of environmental policy. Development of environmental policy in the United States and the increasing globalization of environmental politics are considered. It explores the role of key policy actors in environmental policy formation and implementation. In addition, the course provides an overview and assessment of key U.S. and international environmental policy issues such as air and water pollution, waste management, energy, and population growth. Emphasis is placed on analyzing domestic and international case studies in environmental justice. The relations among science, politics, and policy are taught via case histories that include endangered species, air pollution, water quality, protected area management, facility planning, and hazardous site restoration.

ESM 599 Special Topics in Environmental Systems Analysis and Management Short Course     1-3 CR
One to three credit courses on topics of current interest will be regularly scheduled. Topics will depend on faculty expertise and student interest. The courses will be taught in a seminar format.

ESM 690 Environmental Project     1-6 CR
A project in environmental analysis and/or management will be designed in consultation with a faculty advisor that addresses a real-world environmental question or issue. The projects will involve research, internships or a combination of the two. Projects should address a topic of current concern to industry, non-profit environmental organizations, or local, state, or federal government agencies. Team research projects that address related components of significant environmental issues are encouraged. Detailed professional project reports will be prepared and defended in a public presentation. Accumulation of at least 3 credits in ESAM 690 is required for completion of the ESAM program. Enrollment in ESAM 690 is possible as early as the first semester of graduate study although students will typically enroll for the required credits during their second year of study.