ENVS 200 (Introduction to Environmental Studies) is a three-credit social science course. It introduces students to the field of environmental studies and provides them with basic information about a variety of environmental issues, concepts, debates, events, and actors or thinkers. This survey course presents an overview of key concepts related to environmental analysis such as resilience, carrying capacity, and environmental justice, as well as a range of topics related to contemporary environmental issues such as water, biodiversity, and ecological design. In particular the course explores the principles of sustainable development and sustainability. Students are introduced to some of the complexity and debate regarding these concepts and are required to critically engage in applying the concepts. The course also introduces students to critical interdisciplinary analysis and provides opportunities to develop and refine such skills.
This course has no prerequisites and it has a Challenge for Credit option is that is of interest to you. Also, students should be aware that ENVS 200 cannot be taken for credit if credit has already been obtained for ENVS 252.
Introduction to Environmental Studies is made up of twelve units, four assignments (two assignments worth ten percent and two assignments weighing twenty-five percent), and a final exam, which is worth thirty percent. The topics that are covered in this course include water, biodiversity, forests, food, agriculture, ecological design, urban sustainability, energy, and climate change. The final exam for this course must be taken online with an Athabasca University approved exam invigilator at an approved invigilation center. For a list of invigilators who can accommodate online exams, visit the Exam Invigilation Network.
Dr. Lorelei Hanson joined Athabasca University in 2003 and has been the tutor, author, and coordinator of ENVS 200 since 2003. I gave her the opportunity to briefly introduce herself and she stated “I am an associate professor of environmental studies at Athabasca University and a fellow with the Energy Futures Lab, a social learning lab focused on identifying innovation pathways to disrupt and transition Alberta’s energy system. My research interests include energy transition, critical sustainability, food security, public dialogue on climate change and environmental history. I am the editor of recently published Public Deliberation on Climate Change: Lessons from Alberta Climate Dialogue, that evaluates the tensions, challenges, and opportunities that emerge when publics are convened to deliberate on wicked issues like climate change. My academic work can also be found in journals such as Environmental Politics, The International Journal of Interdisciplinary Environmental Studies and Local Environment: The International Journal of Justice and Sustainability. In my personal life I practice permaculture.”
Alongside ENVS 200, Dr. Hanson coordinates ENVS 243 (Environmental Change in a Global Context), ENVS 435 (Transformative Change in Building Sustainable Communities), ENVS 461 (The History and Politics of Ecology), and GLST 243 (Environmental Change in a Global Context).
Dr. Hanson provides a brief overview of the structure of the course, stating “This course will provide students a broad overview of a range of environmental issues and how one undertakes interdisciplinary analysis. Assignment one is Questions and Answers. Some of the questions require a paragraph or two but most only require one or two sentences to answer the question. Assignment two is adding to an Environmental Timeline which requires students to write seven hundred and fifty to twelve hundred and fifty words. Assignment three and assignment four (Labeled as 3A and 3B) is a comparison of two environmental organizations. Part A requires students to write three hundred and fifty words to five hundred words and Part B requires students to write twenty-seven hundred and fifty words to thirty-two hundred and fifty words. The final exam is comprehensive of course material and includes multiple choice and short answer questions.”
She provides her insight as to what advice she would give to students who are already enrolled or who are about to enroll in ENVS 200, she states “Students come to the course with different skills, knowledge, and experiences and this affects the amount of time they need to devote to this course. Follow the instructions, review the marking matrices, submit assignments in a timely and sequential manner, and use the feedback provided to improve and you should be successful in the course. It is not a difficult course if the students follow the instructions, submit assignments before the last few weeks, use the assignment feedback to improve, and are able to write clearly.”
Overall, she would recommend this course to “Anyone with an interest in environmental issues.”
Whether ENVS 200 is a degree or program requirement of yours or the topics that were discussed above are of interest to you, this course will have you learning interesting topics surrounding environmental studies!