New Environmental Studies Course At AU

Environmental Impact Assessment (ENVS 305)

Recycling. Environmental pollutants. Environmental effects. Fragile ecosystems. Do any of these phrases sound familiar? You may have wondered how scientists can determine that certain practices or actions — like building a highway over a marshland, for instance — can cause negative effects on our environment. Wonder no longer! As of June 2004, Athabasca University’s Environmental Impact Assessment (ENVS 305) unravels the mysteries behind impact assessments, leading you on a truly fascinating journey.

A three credit course offered through individualized study, ENVS 305 discusses how the effects of various systems can be assessed in relation to the amount of change produced in the surrounding ecosystem. Environmental Impact Assessment (ENVS 305) focuses especially on the environmental effects of large infrastructures, such as highways, roads, power plants, mines, landfills, airports — you name it!

After a brief introduction in unit one to the concepts, theories, and practices constituting environmental assessment, the course plunges into real-life issues with the potential to affect the delicate ecological balance of our ecosystem. You’ll be fascinated with the story of the Mackenzie Valley Pipeline, and the impact assessments for the Red Hill Creek Expressway.

Carefully interwoven among these delicate issues are nuggets of information related to environmental assessment. You’ll discover the role of not only the government and legislature in environmental issues, but also the public — yourself, in other words — as well. How are new technologies assessed prior to their appearing on the market for consumer use or incorporation into infrastructures? You will discover the facts and rules behind this complex facet of environmental impact assessment. ENVS 305 is packed with information you never knew existed!

Your evaluation for ENVS 305 is student friendly. In addition to the final exam (worth 40%), the remaining 60% of your mark is determined by a short essay and a more detailed research paper. The short essay is worth 20% and focuses on a particular topic you have studied so far.

The research paper, however, allows you to expand your horizons on a particular area of environmental impact assessment, using the concepts taught in the course in addition to information drawn from outside sources (such as scientific literature). Prior to beginning your research paper, you submit a short description of your research paper topic, depth, and additional information, for 5% of your overall course mark. This ensures that you can incorporate any suggestions or advice from your tutor into your final research paper. Your completed research paper is worth 35% of your mark for ENVS 305.

For more information, visit the course syllabus at: From this syllabus, you can visit ENVS 305’s Centre (Centre for Global and Social Analysis).