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Watershed Institute Majors + Minors

The natural choice

If you have an interest in science and a general concern for public health and the environment, a degree in environmental public health is a great option! Our hands-on learning approach will allow you to gain a great deal of experience and knowledge. It is one of only 30 National Environmental Health Association-accredited undergraduate programs in the country, and has an amazing placement rate, with all of our graduates finding relevant employment or graduate schooling upon graduating!

Two minors are options to enhance your study of environmental problems and solutions and are a great addition to any major: Environment, Society & Culture and Environmental Science. Check out the courses you can take within our environmental studies program.

Unique course offerings

There are some very unique and interesting courses that are offered through the Watershed Institute. Below is a list of some course options available to those minoring in environment, society, and culture as well as those minoring in environmental sciences. If you want to find out more about these courses, take a look at the course catalog.

Biology 180 "Conservation of the Environment" - Dr. Paula Kleintjes-Neff

In Biology 180, students will learn about issues related to consumption, conservation and management of natural resources. Decisions and actions related to conservation have significant consequences for the well-being of life on earth. By necessity, these decisions are made in the face of uncertainty and with imperfect information about the consequences of action. In this course, students will be introduced to the knowledge that exists on a variety of environmental issues and then learn to critically evaluate the threats to our environment and to formulate educated responses and actions for the earth’s sustainability. Each week we meet for two lectures and one discussion period. It is a reading and writing intensive course. The discussion is a chance for us to meet in small groups to discuss the weekly assigned readings, current news and lecture topics. It is a time for us to explore and develop a personal understanding of issues and questions at a level not easily attained in a larger lecture setting.

Biology 311/511 "General Entomology" - Dr. Paula Kleintjes-Neff

The objectives of this course are to gain an appreciation for the fascinating biology and incredible diversity of the insects; to gain an understanding of insect structures, function, ecology, behavior, and integrated pest management; to recognize and identify the insect Orders and the local, commonly found insect families; and to learn the skills, patience, fun of field biology and entomology.

Biology 320 "Studies of Tropical Environments" - Dr. Paula Kleintjes-Neff

This is a travel course, designed to allow students to experience and learn about a climate different from that of Wisconsin.  Past locations have included the Bahamas, Costa Rica, the Galapagos Islands, and Belize.

Biology 328 "Conservation Biology" - Dr. Paula Kleintjes-Neff

In BIOL 328 students will learn about the threats to biodiversity and the principles of conservation biology. Students will be encouraged to develop the scientific, ethical, and technical understanding of the means for protecting, maintaining and restoring the diversity of life on earth. Students will practice ‘life’ skills such as reading, writing, critical thinking, collaborating and communicating. These are necessary for, yet not limited, to careers in conservation biology, ecology, wildlife biology or natural resource management.

Biology 329/529 "Field Studies in Conservation Biology" - Dr. Paula Kleintjes-Neff

An interactive, hands-on class which includes map and compass training, restoration projects, frogging, garlic mustard removal, tree bagging for the county fair, visits to the International Crane Foundation and Aldo Leopold Shack, and bird banding.

Biology 491/English 305/Geography 375 "Environmental Civic Action" - Dr. Ruth Cronje, Dr. Paula Kleintjes-Neff, Dr. Don Mowry, Dr. Garry Running

This interdisciplinary course investigates how individuals can make a difference in their environment and community.  In a past year, students attended lectures and did readings, but the class was mainly focused upon developing the Pedal and Paddle Pollution Tour.  This involved canoeing, bicycling, and creating a film to educate others about pollutants in the Chippewa River, which flows through UW-Eau Claire's campus.

Economics 268 "Environmental Economics" - Dr. Eric M. Jamelske

This course applies the economic way of thinking to issues relating to the environment.We will briefly cover the basic tools of economic analysis and discuss recent environmental and economic trends. This will include consideration of opportunity cost and marginal analysis as well as the supply and demand and elasticity. In addition, we will define and discuss the concept of externalities as well as examine the role of corporations and government in the decision-making process. We will then use our newfound economic way of thinking to address/analyze a variety of current environmental issues.  Each step of the way, the professor strives to connect this course the real world issues and I will also try my best to highlight the interconnectedness of the economic way of thinking to the thought process of other disciplines in addressing environmental issues.

Geography 104 "The Physical Environment" - Dr. Douglas Faulkner, Dr. Garry Running, and Ms. Katie Weichelt

Nothing on Earth is evenly distributed – not ideas, wealth, resources, not anything. Phenomena that make up the physical environment are also unevenly distributed across Earth – warmth, fresh water, fertile soils, vegetation, and everything else. The uneven distribution of these phenomena has profound implications for humans and how humans interact with their environment. However, the distribution of these phenomena is not random – it can be explained. Describing and explaining spatial patterns of these physical phenomena—in a scientific manner—is what physical geographers do.  Upon completion of this course, students will see the Earth, the home of humankind, in a new way—through the lens of physical geography. You will also be able to describe and explain spatial patterns of observable phenomena resulting from the interconnections among Earth systems (atmosphere, lithosphere, biosphere, hydrosphere), such as weather and climate, plant communities, soils, natural hazards, and landforms. Students will also be able to share their insights with others.

Geography 178 "Conservation of the Environment" - Dr. Garry Running

In Geography 178 students learn together about issues related to human-environmental interaction, a major theme in geography as an academic discipline. Together students will explore environmental geography, biogeography (environmental biology), and how these and related disciplines converge with respect to conservation and management of natural resources. Decisions and actions related to conservation have significant consequences for the well-being of life on Earth. All human decisions, even deciding to do nothing, come with an environmental price tag. By necessity, our decisions and actions are more often than not made in the face of scientific uncertainty, and with imperfect information (a bewildering array of: ignorance, disinformation, baloney, half-truths, blatantly false or misleading statements coming from ideologically-based bias, political spin, or self-serving commercial entities; media hype, sensationalism, or indifference) about those price tags and consequences. In this course, you will be introduced to the scientific knowledge that exists about a variety of environmental issues and then learn to critically evaluate the threats to our environment and to formulate educated (read: scientific evidence-based) responses and actions for the Earth’s sustainability. This course is rigorous. This course is reading and writing intensive. We won’t spend our 15 weeks together hugging trees, chomping granola, or complaining that there aren’t enough bicycle paths. Each week we will meet for two lectures and one discussion period. Discussion periods provide us with a chance to meet in small groups so that we can delve more deeply and personally into assigned readings or activities, current news, and lecture topics. They provide us the time to explore and develop our personal understanding of environmental issues to a depth not easily attained in a larger lecture setting.

Geography 350 "Soils and the Environment" - Dr. Garry Running

Soils are unique in the physical environment.  They are the result of bio-geo-chemical processes.  Soil morphology, chemistry, and spatial distributions of soil types reflect and integrate all aspects of physiography and human land-use (geology, slope, climate, vegetation, fauna, time, land-use and agricultural practices).  A strong background in the physical sciences is helpful, especially some basic chemistry or geochemistry but it is not required.  A strong background in the Earth sciences, especially physical geography, geomorphology, and Earth surface processes is helpful but it is not required.  A good background in map reading, GIS, and aerial photographic interpretation is helpful but it is not required.  Those students with strong backgrounds in the ecological sciences and resource management will also be well-prepared to begin.  All that students really need to succeed in this course is:  the ability to work effectively with others, some time management skills, some computer literacy, some graphics capabilities, and an open and inquisitive mind.  This course is primarily a field-oriented course in Pedology.  Pedology is that branch of soil science that concentrates on soil genesis and field relationships.  The lecture and laboratory components are integrated.  The purpose of this course is to provide students with science-based knowledge of the fundamentals of human-environmental interaction, a grasp of how these interactions create problems and how the elements of social, technological, and personal choices combine to overcome them, and an opportunity to develop, practice, and effectively communicate their own environmental values.

Honors 301 "Civic Agency and Environmental Stewardship" Building Community Capacity to Steward Pollinator Biodiversity" - Dr. Ruth Cronje

This course is an opportunity to engage in a community project to promote biodiversity by actively building a neighbor-to-neighbor network to create and steward pollinator habitat. You'll partner with numerous individual citizens and community organizations to build our community's capacity to steward our environment.   Course objectives include: developing an understanding of civic engagement and civic agency for yourself and for your community; building specific community agency skills for yourself and in your community; understanding why environmental scientists value biodiversity; building your knowledge of pollinator species and their importance to humans and the environment; reflecting upon the relationship(s) among scientific evidence and collective and individual human action; practicing community action by actively enabling a community project to create and promote pollinator habitat.

Sociology 491 "Environmental Sociology" - Dr. Tarique Niazi

This course has been designed to gain an understanding of sociological theories and concepts that explain the causal relationship between the environment and society. It will present this relationship as an “Environmental-Sociological Complex,” in which the environment and society are mutually constituted. A set of carefully selected environmental problems will be employed as case studies to help understand the ways in which larger social and material forces drive environmental change. In doing so, the course will explore and evaluate the social causes and consequences of such problems, and society’s responses to them. Last but not least, competing perspectives on envisioning and building an ecologically sustainable society will be assessed.

Sociology 491 "Sociology of the Middle East" - Dr. Tarique Niazi

The American Sociological Association (ASA) has recently formed a Working Group on the Middle East. The rationale behind the formation of this group is that sociologists are underrepresented among Middle East experts and Middle East experts are underrepresented among sociologists. Yet the United States’s civil and political society has long been engaged with the Middle East, an engagement that has continued to deepen and widen to this day. The onset of this engagement was rooted in natural resources, when the United States and Saudi Arabia struck an energy deal in the early 1950s. Natural resources have since been the dominant factor in shaping the western worldview on the Middle East, particularly its political and social structure. Natural resources are, however, unevenly distributed across the Middle East, which reflects in the structure of its societies and their influence abroad. This course is, thus, a study into the state, society and the environment in the Middle East, and their interactive relationship in structuring their national and global outlook on how the environment is perceived and appropriated.

Women's Studies 375 "Eco Feminism, Women and Environmental Justice" - Ms. Laurel Kieffer

The course is explores the linkages between the oppression of the environment and oppression of women, human and non-human "others".  Diverse resources and learning methods will be included to achieve the following outcomes.  Students will gain a global understanding of the interconnections between humans, non-human animals and the environment.  We will also discuss understanding of the impact of human choices on perpetuating oppressions and insights on current eco-feminist and environmental justice activism, and explore options for personal involvement in local, regional or national efforts.

Student doing work in classroom

Environmental public health major

If you have an interest in science and a general concern for public health and the environment, a degree in environmental public health is a great option! Check out our hands-on approach.

Take a look at ENPH
Student working in lab

Environment, society, + culture minor

The areas of study available within the environment, society, and culture minor are broad and can be a great option for a minor addition to any major. Add a minor that makes an impact.

Discover what you can do
Student presenting research

Environmental sciences minor

Do you have an interest in the environment and sustainability? Add a minor in environmental sciences, the diversity of the coursework makes a great addition to any major.

I care about the environment
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