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Environmental Science and Policy Department

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Environmental Science and Policy Curricula

The program provides a strong foundation while also having much flexibility. Two concentrations - Science and Policy - allow for different emphasis. Within each concentration students may choose from a wide range of courses to meet their interests, goals, and requirements. Three environmental minors are also available. Environmental Science & Policy overlaps with several of the natural and social sciences. Environmental considerations are essential in understanding the biology, behavior, and health of humans and other animals. Our curriculum is beneficial for students interested in zoology, botany, social sciences, liberal arts, business, and international affairs. Students with interests in these and other fields can apply their concern and interest for the environment in either the Science or Policy concentrations. Indeed, this program is well suited to dual majors and minors, allowing students to strengthen their undergraduate education and career preparation. Such preparation is also enhanced by our internships and research requirements.

Bachelor of Science in Environmental Science, Assessment Emphasis

  • ENSC 101 Introduction to Environmental Issues (3 credits)
  • Examines natural systems, adverse impacts of human activities upon these systems, and how society deals with these impacts. Topics may include ecology; biodiversity; forests and deforestation; human population growth and control; food production and world hunger; energy resources; and water and air pollution. In addition to the science of these topics, related politics, economics, and ethics are discussed.
  • ENSC 125 Field and Lab Experience (1 credits) 
  • A diversity of experiences will complement and add to topics covered in ENSC 101 lecture. These will provide tangible examples of the scope of environmental science and policy, ranging from developing observation skills in the natural world, field and lab measurements and experimentation, and practical applications in utilities and other organizations.
  • ENSC 202 Environmental Politics and Policy (3 credits)
  • The nature, composition, and organization of parties and pressure groups; the role played by these two forces in the political process; history and programs of parties and pressure groups will be analyzed. Also the nature of contemporary voting behavior is examined. 
  • ENSC 210 Introduction to Geology (3 credits)
  • This course focuses on Earth’s geologic resources and how they influence man’s use of the physical world. Topics include plate tectonics; earthquakes; rock and mineral formation; weathering and erosion; groundwater and surface water; stratigraphy and energy resources; glaciation and geologic history. Students make observations and measurements and translate them into meaningful data from which inferences can be drawn. Through hands-on experience, students gain skills of map reading, identification of minerals and rocks, interpretation of geologic and topographic maps. 
  • ENSC 212 Introduction to Geology Laboratory (1 credits)
  • ENSC 230 Introduction to GIS (3 credits)
  • This course will provide an introduction to Geographic Information Systems. A Geographic Information System is a series of tools to create, edit, maintain, and analyze maps and data about features that occur over a specific geographic area. The course will detail the terminology, concepts, and applications that are commonly used with GIS. Hands-on training will be provided in the labs for input and edit functions, ad hoc query and map production function. We will investigate various data sources, data management requirements, geoprocessing operations, and cartographic representation. A required class project will incorporate all of the skills learned during the semester from data download to map presentation. 
  • ENSC 308 Introduction to Occupational Safety & Health (3 credits)
  • In 1970 the federal Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) was passed. Employers have been required since then to provide a safe and healthy workplace for their employees. Knowledge of these standards is important when applying for employment in science and business. This course will provide knowledge of those standards including hazard communication, laboratory safety, safety and health management, blood-borne pathogens, and personal protective equipment. Upon completion of this course, students will receive the OSHA 30-hour training certificate for General Industry.
  • ENSC 310 Environmental Chemistry (3 credits)
  • This course prepares students for careers in the rapidly growing environmental job market, and it is designed to provide students with an understanding of the reactions, transport, and effects of naturally occurring chemical systems. The course will include procedures of collection and analysis of soil, water and air environmental samples. The science of nanotechnology and related environmental concerns will be considered. The use of enzymes to enhance biochemical industrial processes used to obtain renewable energy resources from plant materials will be emphasized. The major anthropogenic pollutants and their effects upon the environment will also be studied. Safety procedures and regulations will be included. 
  • ENSC 309 Environmental Chemistry Laboratory (1 credits)
  • This course will provide detailed coverage of water, soil and air environments. It is designed to provide the student with an understanding of the reactions, transports and effects of naturally occurring chemical systems. The major modern anthropogenic pollutants and their effects upon the environment will also be studied. Students will become acquainted with facilities such as; the on-campus River Laboratory, the new Mobile Aquatic Laboratory, the Hudson River monitoring station (HRECOS), and analytical instrumentation including: ICP, portable GCMS, handheld XRF, and HPLC. Laboratories will include synthesis and characterization of nanoparticles. Students will be introduced to the tools and knowledge necessary for biofuels facility operations. Instrumental techniques used will include UV/Visible spectrophotometry, flame and furnace atomic absorption spectrophotometry, and gas chromatography. 
  • ENSC 360 Ecology (4 credits)
  • ENSC 380 Environmental Assessment (3 credits)
  •  The purpose of this course is to examine the NEPA- and NYS SEQRA-based approaches to environmental impact assessment. Students will learn how to design a statistically acceptable monitoring program; how to collect samples; how to prepare and preserve samples for analyses; and how to interpret environmental data in the assessment of impacts. 
  • ENSC 404 Environmental Toxicology (4 credits)
  • This course will introduce students to the methods involved in measuring toxic effects of chemical and/or physical agents on living organisms. Students will become familiar with toxicant detection in environmental samples; the effects of toxicants on test organisms; risk associated with different exposure levels; and the relationships between toxicant levels and the regulatory criteria for those toxicants. Basic metabolic, physiological, and pharmacological concepts will be used to explain the fate of toxicants in the body, with emphasis on transformation, carcinogenesis, and mutagenesis. Three-hour lecture, three-hour laboratory per week. 
  • ENSC 415 Environmental Science Seminar (1 credits)
  • This discussion-based course serves as a forum for students from the Science and Policy concentrations to discuss their perspectives with each other and with faculty. The instructor will choose a theme to guide readings and discussions. Students and the materials they choose will be the primary sources of information. Learning will occur largely through questioning, reasoning, synthesis, and discussion, rather than simply by absorbing information. 
  • ENSC 425 Environmental Law (3 credits)
  • An overview of current environmental law issues, including impact review, air and water quality, solid and hazardous waste, and toxic substances. Emphasis on federal and state statutory and regulatory requirements, and case-law interpretation. 
  • ENSC 426 Seminar in Environmental Investigation & Remediation (3 credits)
  • Contamination of environmental media (soil, water, soil gas, etc.) may result from a variety of human activities and represents a threat to the usability of property, the vitality of ecosystems, and the health of humans. This course will explore the complimentary topics of environmental investigations and contaminant responses (e.g., “remediation”). The course objectives are for students to become familiar with the spectrum of investigative techniques for each media, to appreciate the limitations of contaminant delineation, and to gain a basic understanding of a broad range of remedial actions (both their potential and their limitations). This course will utilize data from actual regulated sites, which provide greater details on various classroom discussion topics, offering students the opportunity to more fully comprehend the challenges of decision-making in an imperfect world. Students will be responsible to work both independently and in groups during the semester.
  • ENSC 440 Research I (3 credits) OR
  • Students conduct research in Environmental Science or Policy under the direction of a faculty member. Students make individual arrangements with a faculty member to plan and conduct the study. At the end of her/his work, a written report and a public seminar are presented by the student, which may include presentation at a scientific conference. 
  • ENSC 398 Internship I (3 credits)
  • The internship is designed to be a pre-professional work-related experience at an off-campus location. Generally taken in the junior or senior year, placements may be obtained within scientific, governmental, or advocacy organizations or with private consulting firms and environmental laboratories. The student intern will be supervised by an on-site professional and by the Environmental Science & Policy internship coordinator. Internships must be approved by the Program Director and the Office of Career Services prior to their commencement.
  • ENSC 477 Environmental Science & Human Values (Capping) (3 credits)
  • This is the capping course in Environmental Science & Policy. The course examines the moral implications of human attitudes regarding other species and the environment. This course explores the historical roots and current world views that have generated the present state of widespread environmental degradation. The interrelationship of ecology, economics, sociology, and ethics will also be studied. 

Bachelor of Science in Environmental Science, Science Emphasis

  • ENSC 101 Introduction to Environmental Issues (3 credits)
  • Examines natural systems, adverse impacts of human activities upon these systems, and how society deals with these impacts. Topics may include ecology; biodiversity; forests and deforestation; human population growth and control; food production and world hunger; energy resources; and water and air pollution. In addition to the science of these topics, related politics, economics, and ethics are discussed.
  • ENSC 202 Environmental Politics and Policy (3 credits)
  • The nature, composition, and organization of parties and pressure groups; the role played by these two forces in the political process; history and programs of parties and pressure groups will be analyzed. Also the nature of contemporary voting behavior is examined.
  • ENSC 210 Introduction to Geology (3 credits)
  • This course focuses on Earth's geologic resources and how they influence man's use of the physical world. Topics include plate tectonics; earthquakes; rock and mineral formation; weathering and erosion; groundwater and surface water; Course Descriptions 213 stratigraphy and energy resources; glaciation and geologic history. Students make observations and measurements and translate them into meaningful data from which inferences can be drawn. Through hands-on experience, students gain skills of map reading, identification of minerals and rocks, interpretation of geologic and topographic maps.
  • ENSC 212 Introduction to Geology Lab (1 credit)
  • Laboratory to accompany ENSC 210.
  • ENSC 230 Introduction to GIS (3 credits)
  • This course will provide an introduction to Geographic Information Systems. A Geographic Information System is a series of tools to create, edit, maintain, and analyze maps and data about features that occur over a specific geographic area. The course will detail the terminology, concepts, and applications that are commonly used with GIS. Hands-on training will be provided in the labs for input and edit functions, ad hoc query and analysis functions, and facilities-management functions.
  • ENSC 415 Environmental Science & Policy Seminar (1 credit)
  • This discussion-based course serves as a forum for students from the Science and Policy concentrations to discuss their perspectives with each other and with faculty. The instructor will choose a theme to guide readings and discussions. Students and the materials they choose will be the primary sources of information. Learning will occur largely through questioning, reasoning, synthesis, and discussion, rather than simply by absorbing information.
  • ENSC 360 Ecology: Principles & Practice (4 credits)
  • Dual listed as BIOL 360 This course involves the study of the interrelationships among organisms and with their environments. Topics include organism responses to physical and chemical conditions, population growth and regulation, intra- and interspecific competition, herbivory, predation, parasitism, mutualism, community structure, ecosystem productivity, nutrient cycling, and decomposition.
    Three-hour lecture per week, three-hour fieldwork/lab per week.
  • ENSC 380 Principles of Environmental Assessment (3 credits)
  • The purpose of this course is to examine the NEPA- and NYS SEQRA-based approaches to environmental impact assessment. Students will learn how to design a statistically acceptable monitoring program; how to collect samples; how to prepare and preserve samples for analyses; and how to interpret environmental data in the assessment of impacts.
  • ENSC 440-441 Research I and II (6 credits) OR
  • Students conduct research in Environmental Science or Policy under the direction of a faculty member. Students make individual arrangements with a faculty member to plan and conduct the study. At the end of her/his work, a written report and a public seminar are presented by the student, which may include presentation at a scientific conference.
    Three credits each.
  • ENSC 398-399 Internship (6 credits)
  • The internship is designed to be a pre-professional work-related experience at an off-campus location. Generally taken in the junior or senior year, placements may be obtained within scientific, governmental, or advocacy organizations or with private consulting firms and environmental laboratories. The student intern will be supervised by an on-site professional and by the Environmental Science & Policy internship coordinator. Internships must be approved by the Program Director and the Office of Career Services prior to their commencement.
    Three credits each.
  • ENSC 477 Environmental Science and Human Values (3 credits)
  • This is the capping course in Environmental Science & Policy. The course examines the moral implications of human attitudes regarding other species and the environment. This course explores the historical roots and current world views that have generated the present state of widespread environmental degradation. The interrelationship of ecology, economics, sociology, and ethics will also be studied.
  • For additional information including other course requirements, recommended program sequence, or pre-requisites, please refer to the catalog.

Bachelor of Science in Environmental Science, Policy Emphasis

  • ENSC 101 Introduction to Environmental Issues (3 credits)
  • Examines natural systems, adverse impacts of human activities upon these systems, and how society deals with these impacts. Topics may include ecology; biodiversity; forests and deforestation; human population growth and control; food production and world hunger; energy resources; and water and air pollution. In addition to the science of these topics, related politics, economics, and ethics are discussed.
  • ENSC 202 Environmental Politics and Policy (3 credits)
  • The nature, composition, and organization of parties and pressure groups; the role played by these two forces in the political process; history and programs of parties and pressure groups will be analyzed. Also the nature of contemporary voting behavior is examined.
  • ENSC 230 Introduction to GIS (3 credits)
  • This course will provide an introduction to Geographic Information Systems. A Geographic Information System is a series of tools to create, edit, maintain, and analyze maps and data about features that occur over a specific geographic area. The course will detail the terminology, concepts, and applications that are commonly used with GIS. Hands-on training will be provided in the labs for input and edit functions, ad hoc query and analysis functions, and facilities-management functions.
  • ENSC 415 Environmental Science & Policy Seminar (1 credit)
  • This discussion-based course serves as a forum for students from the Science and Policy concentrations to discuss their perspectives with each other and with faculty. The instructor will choose a theme to guide readings and discussions. Students and the materials they choose will be the primary sources of information. Learning will occur largely through questioning, reasoning, synthesis, and discussion, rather than simply by absorbing information.
  • ENSC 360 Ecology: Principles & Practice (4 credits)
  • Dual listed as BIOL 360
    This course involves the study of the interrelationships among organisms and with their environments. Topics include organism responses to physical and chemical conditions, population growth and regulation, intra- and interspecific competition, herbivory, predation, parasitism, mutualism, community structure, ecosystem productivity, nutrient cycling, and decomposition.
    Three-hour lecture per week, three-hour fieldwork/lab per week.
  • ENSC 305 Environmental Economics 3 cr
  • Dual listed as ECON 305
    A policy-oriented examination of the relationship between the economy and the natural environment. Topics include the environmental consequences of economic growth and development; the labor market impacts of environmental legislation; and the economic theories of "public goods" and "social costs."
  • ENSC 380 Principles of Environmental Assessment (3 credits)
  • The purpose of this course is to examine the NEPA- and NYS SEQRA-based approaches to environmental impact assessment. Students will learn how to design a statistically acceptable monitoring program; how to collect samples; how to prepare and preserve samples for analyses; and how to interpret environmental data in the assessment of impacts.
  • ENSC 420 Environmental Planning (3 credits)
  • Dual Listed as POSC 420
    This course will cover the constitutional principles, values, and socioeconomic impacts affecting planning; basic planning, land-use, and development practices such as environmental impact statements, master plans, citizen participation; and issues facing environmentally sound planning today.
  • ENSC 425 Environmental Law (3 credits)
  • An overview of current environmental law issues, including impact review, air and water quality, solid and hazardous waste, and toxic substances. Emphasis on federal and state statutory and regulatory requirements, and case-law interpretation.
  • ENSC 440-441 Research I and II (6 credits) OR
  • Students conduct research in Environmental Science or Policy under the direction of a faculty member. Students make individual arrangements with a faculty member to plan and conduct the study. At the end of her/his work, a written report and a public seminar are presented by the student, which may include presentation at a scientific conference.
    Three credits each.
  • ENSC 398-399 Internship (6 credits)
  • The internship is designed to be a pre-professional work-related experience at an off-campus location. Generally taken in the junior or senior year, placements may be obtained within scientific, governmental, or advocacy organizations or with private consulting firms and environmental laboratories. The student intern will be supervised by an on-site professional and by the Environmental Science & Policy internship coordinator. Internships must be approved by the Program Director and the Office of Career Services prior to their commencement.
    Three credits each.
  • ENSC 477 Environmental Science and Human Values (3 credits)
  • This is the capping course in Environmental Science & Policy. The course examines the moral implications of human attitudes regarding other species and the environment. This course explores the historical roots and current world views that have generated the present state of widespread environmental degradation. The interrelationship of ecology, economics, sociology, and ethics will also be studied.

Environmental Science Minor

  • BIOL 131 General Biology I (4 credits)
  • This course is designed to introduce science majors to the major generalizations in biology. Topics include the scientific method, the chemical and cellular basis of life, energy transformation, DNA structure and replication, protein synthesis, and cell division. The laboratory will emphasize hands-on exercises including such topics as data analysis, dissection, taxonomy and classification, and cell division.
    Three-hour lecture, three-hour laboratory per week.
  • BIOL 132 General Biology II (4 credits)
  • Designed to introduce science majors to fundamental concepts in biology. Topics include: transmission genetics, evolutionary theory, and selected ecological principles along with an examination of science as a process and the distinction between science and religion. The laboratory will emphasize experimental design, genetics, evolution and animal diversity.
    Three-hour lecture, three-hour laboratory per week.
  • CHEM 101-102 Introduction to Chemistry and Lab (4 credits) OR
  • CHEM 101 Introduction to Chemstry: A basic introduction to chemistry emphasizing the language of chemistry, its fundamental concepts, and development of problem-solving skills. This course provides appropriate background for students with insufficient preparation in high school chemistry who may wish to take General Chemistry I-II. Two lectures per week. Three credits.
    CHEM 102 Introduction to Chemistry Lab : One-credit course designed to inculcate accepted laboratory procedures with regard to safety, techniques, measurement, and reporting of results. One three hour laboratory per week.
  • CHEM 131-132 General Chemistry I-II (8 credits)
  • CHEM 131: An introduction to the fundamental theories of inorganic chemistry including the structure of atoms, electronic structure, bonding, reactions in aqueous media, gas behavior, intermolecular forces, and properties of solutions. The laboratory course demonstrates the lecture material and emphasizes laboratory technique, data treatment, and report writing.
    CHEM 132: An introduction to the principles of physical chemistry beginning with chemical thermodynamics and working through reaction rates, equilibrium, acid-base chemistry, electrochemistry, and nuclear chemistry. The lecture and laboratory components of this course are designed to complement each other. Lecture presents background theory while laboratory emphasizes application of theoretical concepts to hands-on discovery.

    Four credits each.
  • ENSC 101 Introduction to Environmental Issues (3 credits)
  • Examines natural systems, adverse impacts of human activities upon these systems, and how society deals with these impacts. Topics may include ecology; biodiversity; forests and deforestation; human population growth and control; food production and world hunger; energy resources; and water and air pollution. In addition to the science of these topics, related politics, economics, and ethics are discussed.
  • ENSC 360/BIOL 360 Ecology: Principles & Practice (4 credits)
  • Dual listed as BIOL 360
    This course involves the study of the interrelationships among organisms and with their environments. Topics include organism responses to physical and chemical conditions, population growth and regulation, intra- and interspecific competition, herbivory, predation, parasitism, mutualism, community structure, ecosystem productivity, nutrient cycling, and decomposition.
    Three-hour lecture per week, three-hour fieldwork/lab per week.
  • Elective Courses (at least 6 credits from the courses listed below):
  • ENSC 210: Intro to Geology (3 credits)
    ENSC 212: Intro to Geology Lab (1 credit)
    ENSC 230: Intro to Geographic Info Systems (3 credits)
    ENSC 309: Environmental Chemistry Lab (1 credit)
    ENSC 310: Environmental Chemistry (3 credits)
    ENSC 313: Environmental Microbiology (3 credits)
    ENSC 321: Natural History of the Hudson Valley (3 credits)
    ENSC/BIOL 327: Freshwater Ecology (3 credits)
    ENSC 380: Principles of Environmental Assessment (3 credits)
    ENSC 404: Environmental Toxicology (4 credits)
    BIOL 211: Plant Biology (4 credits)
    BIOL 420: Invertebrate Zoology (4 credits)

Environmental Policy Minor

  • ENSC 101 Introduction to Environmental Issues (3 credits)
  • Examines natural systems, adverse impacts of human activities upon these systems, and how society deals with these impacts. Topics may include ecology; biodiversity; forests and deforestation; human population growth and control; food production and world hunger; energy resources; and water and air pollution. In addition to the science of these topics, related politics, economics, and ethics are discussed.
  • ENSC 202 Environmental Politics and Policy (3 credits)
  • The nature, composition, and organization of parties and pressure groups; the role played by these two forces in the political process; history and programs of parties and pressure groups will be analyzed. Also the nature of contemporary voting behavior is examined.
  • ENSC 230 Introduction to GIS (3 credits)
  • This course will provide an introduction to Geographic Information Systems. A Geographic Information System is a series of tools to create, edit, maintain, and analyze maps and data about features that occur over a specific geographic area. The course will detail the terminology, concepts, and applications that are commonly used with GIS. Hands-on training will be provided in the labs for input and edit functions, ad hoc query and analysis functions, and facilities-management functions.
  • ENSC 305 Environmental Economics 3 cr
  • Dual listed as ECON 305
    A policy-oriented examination of the relationship between the economy and the natural environment. Topics include the environmental consequences of economic growth and development; the labor market impacts of environmental legislation; and the economic theories of "public goods" and "social costs."
  • ENSC 420 Environmental Planning (3 credits)
  • Dual Listed as POSC 420
    This course will cover the constitutional principles, values, and socioeconomic impacts affecting planning; basic planning, land-use, and development practices such as environmental impact statements, master plans, citizen participation; and issues facing environmentally sound planning today.
  • ENSC 425 Environmental Law (3 credits)
  • An overview of current environmental law issues, including impact review, air and water quality, solid and hazardous waste, and toxic substances. Emphasis on federal and state statutory and regulatory requirements, and case-law interpretation.
  • Electives (3 credits)
  • Options:
    a. Choose three elective credits related to the minor with approval of Chair of Environmental Science & Policy
    b. Complete a three-credit internship with approval of Internship Coordinator of Environmental Science & Policy

Environmental Studies Minor

  • ENSC 101 Introduction to Environmental Issues (3 credits)
  • Examines natural systems, adverse impacts of human activities upon these systems, and how society deals with these impacts. Topics may include ecology; biodiversity; forests and deforestation; human population growth and control; food production and world hunger; energy resources; and water and air pollution. In addition to the science of these topics, related politics, economics, and ethics are discussed.
  • Environmental Science Courses (Listed below) (6 credits)
  • ENSC 210: Intro to Geology (3 credits)
    ENSC 212: Intro to Geology Lab (1 credit)
    ENSC 313: Environmental Microbiology (3 credits)
    ENSC 321: Natural History of Hudson Valley (3 credits)
    ENSC/BIOL 327: Freshwater Ecology (3 credits)
    ENSC/CHEM 310: Env Chemistry (3 credits)
    ENSC/BIOL 360: Ecology: Principles and Practice (4 credits)
    ENSC 404: Environmental Toxicology (4 credits)
    BIOL 211: Plant Biology (4 credits)
  • Social Sciences and Humanities Courses (Listed below) (9 credits)
  • ENSC/POSC 202: Environmental Politics & Policy (3 credits)
    ENSC/ECON 305: Environmental Economics (3 credits)
    ENSC/POSC 420: Environmental Planning (3 credits)
    ENSC 425: Environmental Law (3 credits)
    ENSC 230: Intro to Geographic Info Systems (GIS) (3 credits)
    ECON 150: Economics of Social Issues (3 credits)
    ECON 340: Economic Development: Toward Global Equality (3 credits)
    POSC/GBST 103: Intro to Global Studies (3 credits)