Sep 29, 2023  
2019-2020 Course Catalog 
2019-2020 Course Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

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ESCI 1025 - Environmental Science

Credits: 4
Hours/Week: Lecture 3 Lab 2
Course Description: This course covers a variety of environmental topics from an ecological perspective and emphasizes the nature of humanity’s relationship with Planet Earth’s physical and biological systems. Environmental problems are approached in both the framework of ecological principles and within the context of our human-constructed social relationships, economic systems, ethical systems, and political institutions as part of evaluating possible solutions. Hands-on activities provide students the opportunity to observe basic environmental science principles in action. The course includes weekly laboratory and/or fieldwork.
MnTC Goals
3 Natural Science, 10 People/Environment

Prerequisite(s): None
Corequisite(s): None
Recommendation: Course placement into MATH 0070  and ENGL 1021 

Major Content
  1. Introduction and basic concepts in environmental science
    1. Environmental problems, their causes, and sustainability
    2. Environmental history
  2. Science, systems, matter, and energy
    1. Scientific method
    2. Systems theory and behavior
    3. Law of conservation of matter
    4. Laws of thermodynamics
  3. The living world
    1. Ecosystem components, energy flow and matter cycling
    2. Evolution and biodiversity: origins, niches, and adaptation
  4. Population
    1. Community ecology, structure, species interaction, succession, and sustainability
    2. Population dynamics, carrying capacity, and conservation biology
  5. Land use
    1. Sustaining wild species
    2. Sustaining terrestrial biodiversity: the ecosystem approach
    3. Food resources
  6. Geology: processes, hazards, and soils
    1. Geologic processes
    2. Soil formation and soil profiles
    3. Characteristics of soil
    4. Soil erosion, desertification, and salinization
  7. Water use
    1. Properties of water
    2. Types of freshwater
    3. Water shortages
  8. Pollution
    1. Air pollution
    2. Water pollution
    3. Solid and hazardous waste
  9. Earth resources and energy resources and consumption
    1. Nonrenewable mineral resources and fossil fuel resources
    2. Renewable energy, both active and passive
  10. Global change
    1. Natural greenhouse effect
    2. Global climate change and possible solutions
  11. Ecological and human Health
    1. Risk, toxicology, and human health
    2. Bioaccumulation and bio magnification
  12. Sustainable society
    1. This topic and the principles of sustainability are integrated and worked throughout the above topical areas and units in the course
    2. Principles governing sustainability include: the law of conservation of matter, the laws of thermodynamics, the principles of population ecology, as well as principles of ecology especially with respect to understanding the difference between nonrenewable and renewable resources, the concept of irreversible biological loss, and the concept of intergenerational equity.

Learning Outcomes
At the end of this course students will be able to:

  1. apply the principles of biological ecosystems and the science of ecology to human interactions with the global biosphere and geosphere.
  2. apply the principles of ecology, the law of conservation of matter, thermodynamics to humanity’s relationship to the Earth in the areas such as human population, human land use, human water use, human use of energy resources and their consumption, and pollution.
  3. identify critical criteria of sustainability based upon the principles of ecology, law of conservation of matter, and the laws of thermodynamics.
  4. evaluate the environmental and resource impacts on Planet Earth and human society from the growth of human population and its ecological footprint in the following areas: land-use, water use, energy resources extraction, energy consumption, environmental pollution, within the context of global change.
  5. analyze and interpret information using a variety of methods from ecology and related disciplines to address human society’s environmental problems and our approach to them. 
  6. evaluate alternative solutions to environmental problems: land-use, water use, loss of wild species and their habitats, depletion of non-renewable mineral resources, air and water pollution, depletion of nonrenewable fossil fuel resources, decline of ocean fisheries, and global climate change.
  7. evaluate outcomes of alternative solutions and indicate choices that are viable pathways for a sustainable future human society. 

Competency 1 (1-6)
03. 01. Demonstrate understanding of scientific theories.
03. 02. Formulate and test hypotheses by performing laboratory, simulation, or field experiments in at least two of the natural science disciplines. One of these experimental components should develop, in greater depth, students’ laboratory experience in the collection of data, its statistical and graphical analysis, and an appreciation of its sources of error and uncertainty.
03. 03. Communicate their experimental findings, analyses, and interpretations both orally and in writing.
03. 04. Evaluate societal issues from a natural science perspective, ask questions about the evidence presented, and make informed judgments about science-related topics and policies.
Competency 2 (7-10)
10. 01. Explain the basic structure and function of various natural ecosystems and of human adaptive strategies within those systems.
10. 02. Discern patterns and interrelationships of bio-physical and socio-cultural systems.
10. 04. Evaluate critically environmental and natural resource issues in light of understandings about interrelationships, ecosystems, and institutions.
10. 05. Propose and assess alternative solutions to environmental problems.
10. 06. Articulate and defend the actions they would take on various environmental issues.

Courses and Registration

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