Geography & Environmental Studies at Aquinas College

Environmental Studies Major (BS)

The major consists of the Environmental Studies Core courses (28 credits) and at least one of four (Ecology, Chemistry, Earth Sciences, or Sustainability and Policy) concentrations. Any remaining credit hours (i.e. less than 52) will be filled by elective courses. Any 200-level (or above) course listed within the major may be counted as an elective.

Major Requirements

Fifty-two (52) semester hours

Environmental Studies Core:

  • EL100 Introduction to Environmental Studies (3)
  • EL499 Environmental Studies Capstone Research Seminar (1)
  • GY101 Earth Environments (4)
  • EL301 Advanced Environmental Studies (3)
  • CS152 Spreadsheets (1)
  • MS151 Elementary Statistics (3) OR MS252 Statistics (3)
  • EL490 Advanced Techniques and Topics (4)
  • ES211 Microeconomic Principles (3)
  • At least two (2) courses from the following:
    • EH310* Special Topics in English
    • TY255 Catholic Social Teaching (3)
    • PH238 Environmental philosophy (3)
    • WS260 Women and the Environment (3)

* Indicates the course counts toward the major only when approved by the EL Chair

In addition to the core requirements (above), choose at least one (1) of the four (4) concentrations listed below:

Ecology Concentration

  • BY170 Introduction to Organisms (4)
  • BY171 Introduction to Cells (Formerly BY160 Principles of Biology) (4)
  • BY352 Ecology (3)
  • At least three (3) courses from the following:
    • BY231 Microbiology (4)
    • BY275 Aquatic Field Biology (3)
    • BY241 Ornithology (3)
    • GY360 Biogeography (3)
    • BY264 Plant Taxonomy (3)

Chemistry Concentration

  • CY111 General Chemistry (4)
  • CY212 Organic Chemistry (4)
  • CY112 General Chemistry (4)
  • CY215 Quantitative Analysis (4)
  • CY211 Organic Chemistry (4)
  • CY346 Instrumental Methods of Analysis (4)

Earth Science Concentration

  • GY320 Cartography: Map Making and Interpretation (4)
  • GY340 Remote Sensing (4)
  • GY385 Geographic Information Systems (4)
  • At least three (3) courses from the following:
    • GY280 Geospatial Analysis (3)
    • GY350 Climatology/Meteorology (4)
    • GY352 Geomorphology (3)
    • GY360 Biogeography (3)
    • GY370 Geography of Water Resources (3)

Sustainability and Policy Concentration

  • BY123 Geography of Water Resources (3) OR CY101 Environmental Chemistry (3)
  • EL346 Environmental Policy and Politics: Issues & Approaches
  • ES300 Environmental Economics and Policy (3)
  • At least four (4) courses from the following:
    • CL209 Sustainable Cities and Environmental Justice (3)
    • ES212 Macroeconomic Principles (3)
    • GY212 Urban Geography (4)
    • GY370 Geography of Water Resources (3)
    • PS340 Public Administration (3)
    • PS345 Public Policy (3)
    • SB100 Industrial Ecology (3)
    • SB200 Sustainable Energy Systems (3)
    • SB202 Environmental Regulatory Compliance (3)
    • SB315 Building Social Capital (3)

Courses

  • EL100 Introduction to Environmental Studies (3) NN

    Introduction to principles of environmental relations and processes; survey of environmental literature.

  • EL301 Advanced Environmental Studies (3)

    In depth examination of toxins and waste, natural systems and services, biodiversity, energy issues, climate change, and environmental policy Prerequisite: EL100 or BY123. This course is not accepted for Social Science or Natural World General Education credit.

  • EL490 Advanced Techniques and Topics (4)

    Theory and application of specific techniques in research; collection and analysis of data; specific topics vary with instructors. Prerequisites: GY101 and GY120 or SY103. This course is not accepted for Social Science or Natural World General Education credit.

  • EL499 Environmental Studies Capstone Research Seminar (1), SC

    This is a research seminar where students implement the skills obtained during their study of Geography at Aquinas College. This course involved the implementation of research methods and techniques appropriate to each student’s self-defined project. Introduction and application of skills necessary for successful written and oral presentation of geographical environmental research are included. The course is focused upon a sizeable student-defined research project that culminates in the presentation of their work and a written thesis. Prerequisite: GY/EL490. This course is not accepted for Social Science or Natural World General Education credit.

  • CS152 Spreadsheets (1) T

    This hands-on lab course covers basic spreadsheet functions such as simple formulas, formatting, and print layout using Microsoft Excel. Course projects introduce skills using a variety of formulas and basic functions, charts, and absolute addressing. This course would be beneficial to any students with a desire to analyze numerical data, manage finances, perform simple statistics, or generate charts and graphs.

  • ES211 Microeconomic Principles (3) BE

    Introduction to the economic problem and the study of economics; basics of supply and demand; introduction to concepts and models used to understand the economic behavior of households and firms, economic outcomes under various market structures, market failures, and international trade.

  • GY101 Earth Environments (4) NL

    Natural elements of environment and effects on humans: seasons, radiation, wind, moisture, climate, as well as landforms resulting from running water, ice, gravity, marine activities, and tectonic processes. Three (3) hours lecture, two (2) hours lab (GY101L).

  • MS151 Elementary Statistics (3) QR

    Designed primarily for students who have had no more than two years of high-school mathematics or its equivalent. Includes the fundamental concepts of descriptive and inferential statistics. Prerequisite: MS107. This course is not accepted for the General Education Mathematics requirement.

  • MS252 Statistics (3)

    Designed for students who have had at least three (3) years of high-school mathematics or its equivalent. Topics to be covered include frequency distributions, variability, probability, sampling, estimation, testing, hypotheses, analysis of variance, regression and correlation analysis, and nonparametric tests. (Course counts as three (3) semester hours toward a minor, but only one (1) semester hour toward a major.) Prerequisite: MS114.This course is not accepted for the General Education Mathematics requirement.

  • EH310 Special Topics in English

    Intensive study determined by instructor. Credits may be earned under different specific titles.

  • TY255 Catholic Social Teaching (3) TF

    An introduction to the official social teachings of the Catholic Church and the lived experience of the Judeo-Christian tradition in the United States since the end of the nineteenth century. Attention is given to the theological vision, the anthropology, and the principles used by the Church in its moral reflection on the various social problems of our day including rights and duties of workers and employers, racism, sexism, attacks on the dignity of human life and the family, political tyranny, economic injustice in the Third and Fourth worlds, and war.

  • PH238 Environmental Philosophy (3)

    An examination of the various responses to the call to go beyond conservationalism and reform environmentalism of the 60’s and beyond environmental ethics. Topics include: deep ecology, eco-feminism, social ecology and radical environmentalism.

  • WS260 Women and the Environment (3) PSC

    This course explores representations and theories of ecofeminism that connect nature and women, as well as the work of pioneering and contemporary "environmental advocates," such as Rachel Carson, Wangari Maathai, Vandana Shiva, and West Michigan women who have led the modern environmental movement. Through a range of readings, written responses, discussion, and a final community engagement project, students apply course models to shape an environmental consciousness for themselves.

  • BY352 Ecology (3)

    This course examines interrelationships between individuals and their abiotic environment as well as population-and community-level interactions. General principles will be applied to a range of organisms, including plants, animals, microorganisms, and humans. Labs will vary in structure and will emphasize the collection and evaluation of numerical data to test hypotheses. Two (2) hours lecture and three (3) hours laboratory. Prerequisites: minimum grad of C in BY170, BY171.

  • BY161 Botany (3)

    Introduction to plant biology, including plant morphology, physiology and diversity. Two (2) hours lecture, three (3) hours lab. Prerequisite: minimum grade of C in BY160. Offered every fall. This course is not accepted for the Natural World Biological Science requirement.

  • BY162 Zoology (3)

    Introduction to animal biology, including morphology, physiology and diversity. Two (2) hours lecture, three (3) hours lab. Prerequisite: minimum grade of C in BY160. Offered every spring. This course is not accepted for the Natural World Biological Science requirement.

  • BY231 Microbiology (4)

    Morphology, taxonomy, and physiology of bacteria and other microorganisms; microbial genetics, environmental and industrial significance of microorganisms, and infectious diseases will be covered. Three (3) hours lecture, four (4) hours lab. Prerequisites: completion of the introductory biology sequence with minimum grades of C. Offered every spring. This course is not accepted for the Natural World Biological Science requirement.

  • BY275 Aquatic Field Biology (3)

    The study of aquatic systems and organisms, their functions, origins and interactions. Field oriented labs with training in limnological equipment and analysis. Three (3) hours lecture, three (3) hours lab. Prerequisites: completion of the introductory biology sequence with minimum grades of C. Offered even-numbered falls. This course is not accepted for the Natural World Biological Science requirement.

  • BY241 Ornithology (3)

    An introduction to the study of birds, their classification, anatomy, physiology, behavior, and natural history. Five hours per week, divided between lecture, lab and field excursions. Prerequisites: completion of the introductory biology sequence with minimum grades of C. Offered even-numbered springs. This course is not accepted for the Natural World Biological Science requirement.

  • GY360 Biogeography (3)

    Biogeography is the study of species and how they are arranged upon the landscape. It explores both the distribution of plants and animals on the earth as well as the ecological processes that underlay those arrangements. This course is not accepted for Social Science or Natural World General Education credit.

  • BY264 Plant Taxonomy (3)

    A study of the concepts and principles of classification, study of the local flora, and training in the terminology and identification of the vascular plants. Two (2) hours lecture, three (3) hours lab. Prerequisites: completion of the introductory biology sequence with minimum grades of C. Offered odd-numbered springs.This course is not accepted for the Natural World Biological Science requirement.

  • CY111 General Chemistry (4) NL

    A first college course in chemistry designed primarily for science majors. Topics include atomic structure, chemical bonding, molecular structure, properties of gases, solids, and liquids, stoichiometry, and thermochemistry. Three (3) hours of lecture and one 3-hour laboratory period per week. Prerequisites: CY100 or high school chemistry; math placement score of 18 or higher, co-registration in MS114, or completion of MS114 with a C or better. High school physics strongly recommended.

  • CY112 General Chemistry (4)

    A continuation of CY111. Topics include coordination chemistry, descriptive inorganic and organic chemistry, electrochemistry, equilibria, kinetics, and thermodynamics. Three (3) hours of lecture and one three-hour laboratory period per week. Prerequisites: CY111 and CS152 with grades of C- or better. Co-enrollment in CY112 and CS152 is allowed with approval of the chemistry department chairperson. This course is not accepted for the Natural World Physical Science requirement.

  • CY211 Organic Chemistry (4)

    This is the first semester of a year-long course in organic chemistry for science majors. Topics include bonding, reaction mechanisms, structure, stereochemistry, and synthesis and reactions of aliphatic hydrocarbons and their derivatives. The correlation of molecular structure to physical properties and instrumentation is introduced. Three (3) hours of lecture and one three-hour laboratory period per week. Prerequisite: CY112, with a grade of C- or better, or its equivalent. This course is not accepted for the Natural World Physical Science requirement.

  • CY212 Organic Chemistry (4)

    Continuation of CY211. Topics include carbonyl compounds and reactions, aromatic hydrocarbons, the application of instrumental methods (e.g. UV-vis, IR, NMR, MS) in the identification of the molecular structure, heterocyclic compounds. Multistep synthesis will be introduced. Three (3) hours of lecture and one three-hour laboratory period per week. Prerequisite: CY211, with a grade of C– or better, or its equivalent. This course is not accepted for the Natural World Physical Science requirement.

  • CY215 Quantitative Analysis (4) QR

    A first course in chemical analysis. Topics include gravimetric and volumetric methods, statistical applications, ionic equilibria, chromatography, and spectroscopy. Two (2) hours of lecture and two three-hour laboratory periods per week. Prerequisite: CY112 (or equivalent) with a grade of C– or better. This course is not accepted for the Natural World Physical Science requirement.

  • CY346 Instrumental Methods of Analysis (4) WI

    An introduction to instrumental methods both theoretical and practical. Topics include spectroscopic methods (UV/Visible, IR, Raman, AA, AE, NMR), electrochemical methods (potentiometry and voltammetry), chromatographic methods (GC and HPLC), radiomethods, and thermal methods. Two (2) hours of lecture and two three-hour laboratory periods per week. Prerequisite: CY215 with a grade of C- or better. This course is not accepted for the Natural World Physical Science requirement.

  • GY320 Cartography: Map Making and Interpretation (4)

    Cartographic design with emphasis on developing ability to communicate through maps and graphs; some computer graphics. Three (3) hours lecture, two (2) hours lab (GY320L). This course is not accepted for Social Science or Natural World General Education credit.

  • GY340 Remote Sensing (4)

    Fundamental skills in visual image interpretation, photogrammetry, and computer processing of digital aerial and satellite imagery. Three (3) hours lecture, two (2) hours lab (GY340L). Prerequisite: GY101 or GY120. This course is not accepted for Social Science or Natural World General Education credit.

  • GY385 Geographic Information Systems - GIS (4)

    Geographic Information System fundamentals and theory are presented in a lecture format. Lab work focuses on applying GIS strategies and other geographic tools, such as aerial photo interpretation, spatial modeling, and spatial analysis to examine a variety of physical geography and human geography problems. Three (3) hours lecture, two (2) hours lab (GY385L). Prerequisite: GY320 and CS152 .This course is not accepted for Social Science or Natural World General Education credit.

  • GY280 Geospatial Analysis (3)

    Fundamental skills in a variety of geospatial data collection and analysis technologies, including GPS and web-based mapping and GIS analysis, to investigate geographic patterns and questions. Two (2) hours lecture and two (2) hours lab (GY280L).

  • GY350 Climatology/Meteorology (4)

    Weather elements and introduction to world climatic characteristics and locations; applied climatology. Prerequisite: GY101 or instructor approval. This course is not accepted for Social Science or Natural World General Education credit.

  • GY352 Geomorphology (3)

    The study of landform evolution through an analysis of natural and anthropogenic processes. Included in the analysis are glacial, fluvial, Aeolian, tectonic, and volcanic activities. Prerequisite: GY101. This course is not accepted for Social Science or Natural World General Education credit.

  • GY370 Geography of Water Resources (3)

    The Geography of Water Resources is a course that looks at the nature and distribution of the water resources that our society depends upon. A sizeable portion of the course will detail the characteristics of the different sources of water as well as the myriad environmental and legal problems that arise from our usage of this resource. Prerequisite: GY101 or instructor approval. This course is not accepted for Social Science or Natural World General Education credit.

  • BY123 Environmental Biology (3) NL

    Introduction to aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems, with emphasis on human influences. Field experience based labs. Two (2) hours lecture, three (3) hours lab. Not applicable toward the major. Not applicable toward the minor for students having successfully completed BY275 or BY352. Offered every semester.

  • CY101 Environmental Chemistry (3) NL

    Application of chemical concepts to eco-systems; implications of chemical technology to the social and physical environment. Prerequisites: High school chemistry recommended.

  • SB346/EL346/PS346 Environmental Policy and Politics: Issues & Approaches

    Course Description: Introduction to environmental policy as a focus of public policy. The forces and frameworks shaping environmental policy as well as the influence of various actors will be examined through analysis of key environmental issues. Prerequisites: PS 101 or EL100; or instructor permission

  • SB/ES300 Environmental Economics and Policy (3)

    Microeconomic theory and models of environmental economics are examined, such as common property resources, externalities, environmental accounting, contingent valuation, and maximum sustainable yield, along with the complex economic and social impacts of environmental policy. Prerequisite: EL100 and ES211

  • SY209/CL209 Sustainable Cities and Environmental Justice (3)

    In this course, students investigate sustainable cities and environmental justice from the perspectives of social science scholars, focusing on the meaning of the global environmental crisis for particular urban areas. Throughout the course, students will identify, describe, and evaluate multiple theories and findings that attempt to explain and uncover how cities strive to be sustainable but fall far short of the demands for environmental justice. This course will enable students to attribute multiple social science theories and findings accurately, to take a position based on these theories and findings, to raise and answer counterpoints to these theories and findings, to pose solutions to environmental-based urban problems, and to use sustainability and environmental justice as frameworks for problem-solving.

  • ES212 Macroeconomic Principles (3) BE

    Introduction to the economic problem and the study of economics; basics of supply and demand; introduction to concepts and models used to understand the business cycle (fluctuations in national income and employment) and inflation; basics of international finance.

  • GY212 Urban Geography (4)

    Urban environment and landscape from a human perspective: the city as an economic environment, as a cultural place, as a political entity, policies and planning.

  • BS340/PS340 Public Administration (3)

    Theory and practical skills involved in working with public agencies and implementing public programs.

  • SB100 Industrial Ecology (3)

    This course examines the advantages of nature-based industrial systems for humankind and the natural community. Intelligent approaches to sustainable energy and material systems are outlined and discussed. A wide variety of organizations that have begun a transition toward sustainable business practices are examined. Prerequisites: EL301 and BS201.

  • SB200 Sustainable Energy Systems (3)

    This course examines production and consumption of various forms of sustainable energy appropriate for business. Subtopics include global and regional pollution issues, climate change, carbon sequestering, and energy efficiency. Renewable energy sources examined include solar, wind, fuel cells, hydrogen combustion, tidal, and ocean thermal. Prerequisite: EL301 or consent of instructor.

  • SB202 Environmental Regulatory Compliance (3)

    Regulatory compliance strategies for business on local, state, and federal levels are outlined. Strategies for bringing small, medium, and large businesses in compliance with air, water, and solid-waste pollution regulations are discussed. Prerequisite: EL100

  • SB315 Building Social Capital (3)

    This course examines the role of social capital in building sustainable organizations and communities. The key elements and various forms of social capital will be explored by looking at the different ways that communities develop and how the human relationship with ecological systems can be sustained and enhanced. Ways to measure social capital will also be addressed in order to strengthen the understanding of this component of sustainable business and foster its application in the workplace. Prerequisite: SB100 or consent of instructor. 

  • HY240 Environmental History

    An introductory historical survey of the interaction of humans with the environment focusing primarily on the post-Columbian period. The class will engage the influence of the natural environment on history (including climate, plants, animals, and microorganisms) as well as the impact of humans on the natural world. Topics will include pre- and post-Columbian ecological impacts, increasing environmental challenges of industrial and agricultural modernization, and the origins of the contemporary environmental crisis. (Note: Some semesters the course will focus on US environmental history while others will offer a global approach. Credits may be earned under different titles.)